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Copyright & You

Info for Authors

You have just published a paper in a scholarly journal.  Can you share your work via email?  Can you add the publication to your website or to an Institutional repository?  Can you reuse this article in a subsequent work?  Maybe and maybe not.

 As an author you have the following rights:

  • Right to produce, reproduce, perform, publish
  • Right to adapt, translate and telecommunicate work

and the right to control the circumstances in which others may do the above.

IIn addition to the rights above  you have moral rights to your work.  Moral rights cannot be signed away.  You always retain the moral rights to your work.  These rights include the: 

  •  right of attribution (your work must always be attributed to you)
  • right of association (your work cannot be used in association with anything that would be detrimental to your work or your reputation)

However, when you sign your publisher's  copyright transfer agreement, the terms of the agreement might mean some or all of these rights are transferred to the publisher.

Examples of  author rights allowed under publication agreements from well known publishers:



What Can I Do To Protect My Rights?

Publisher copyright transfer agreements often limit the ability of authors to share their work.  However, publishers will often agree (and this is becoming increasingly common) to an author's request to retain certain rights such as posting content to a website or institutional repository.  

After your article is accepted for publication, but before you sign the contract, verify whether or not the publisher's contract grants you non-commercial copyright for your work. Such permission may be:

  • included in your contract;
  • posted on the publisher's website;
  • listed at Sherpa/RoMEO, a site that compiles information about various publishers' policies.

To retain some degree of of copyright to their work, it is recommended that authors:.   

Review the copyright transfer agreement prior to signing

Consider negotiating changes to the standard publication agreement to retain some rights.  An author's copyright addendum provides for an author's "retention of rights" in negotiating with a publisher. At the very least try to retain rights to publish their work electronically when they publish  papers. The following links contain  information on amending a publication agreement  through submitting an addendum:

Help In Retaining Rights

Project RoMeo offers excellent guidelines for scholars interested in self-archiving.  Their website provides valuable information on negotiating content agreements with publishers, with a guide to how publishers commonly licence content from scholars

The Creative Commons group offers important information on content licensing for authors

The EPrints project publishes extensive information and guidance on self-archiving and open archives, as well as a glossary of terms in this area and links to the most important sites for research

Trinity University's Open Access guide for Faculty provides information for faculty on how to retain non-commercial copyright for scholarly publications and how to submit copies of their publications to Trinity's digital repository.

Click here for a section on retaining your rights that is particularly helpful.

Another very important way to avoid losing your rights as an author is to consider Open Access Publishing.

Open Access is a movement towards free, open and accessible research results, processes and educational resources.

How can I make my work Open Access?

  1. Publish in an Open Access Journal.  To see a list of open access journals click here for the Directory of Open Access (DOAJ)
  2. Publish in a subscription based journal and deposit your article in an Open Access repository.  Open Access Repositories can be subject based or institution based.  SHERPA-ROMEO lists many publishers' copyright and deposit policies:      Note; if the publisher does not formally support article manuscript archiving you can use an author addendum to modify the copyright transfer agreement with your publisher.  See the SPARC Canadian Author addendum available on the CARL website:
  3. Publish in a subscription-based journal and choose an Open Access option.  There are a growing number of subscription-based journals that offer an option to pay for your article to be made open access.

 Research granting agencies around the world including Canadian Insitutes of Health Research, the Wellcome Trust in the UK and the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. require grant recipients to make articles openly accessible by publishing their research in open access journals or by depositing their accepted article manuscripts into open digital repositories.

For example, see the CIHR's Policy on Access to Research Outputs:

Publishing in an open access journal is an eligible expense for many funding applications.  Some universitieshave created authors funds to help faculty pay the publication costs for open access publishing.

A number of universities are adopting open access policies that encourage and even require faculty to deposit their research articles into the institutions' respective repositories.

Open Access Links

The following are some informative links related to Open Access:

Click here for an Open Education Resources Primer put together by the KPU Library.

Click here for the SPARC website.

Click here for an informative brochure and guide: How OpenIsIt? collaboratively created by SPARC, PLOS and OASPA

Click here for a link to the student driven "RightToResearch" coalition that promotes Open Access.

What is a Creative Commons Licence? Creative Commons licenses are web-based agreements whereby you can release some of the rights you are automatically assigned by copyright. You can specify conditions under which others can copy, distribute, and modify your work provided they give you credit. When you submit your wprl, you have the option to apply a Creative Commons license that will:

  • Allow or bar commercial uses of your work
  • Allow or bar modifications of your work

A Creative Commons license is entirely optional.

For more information check out the Creative Commons site

and  the Creative Commons page on the Library Guide: Open Education Resources Primer



Posting on Open Sites such as or ResearchGate

Posting a published article, (especially the publisher pdf version) to ResearchGate or could be a violation of copyright if the author/creator has transferred the copyright to the publisher and the publisher has not given permission for this type of activity.

Many publishers allow the posting of a postprint version but are less likely to allow the publisher PDF.

Publisher conditions can be determined by searching SHERPA/RoMEO.

Click here for an interesting FAQ on copyright and posting to ResearchGate (not specifically Canadian Law) but the cautions are still applicable.

Some more cautionary info on posting your research to ResearchGate:


Posting to

A cautionary note:

Check out what Elsevier is doing:

How One Publisher is Stopping....

Please consider adding your work to KORA (the KPU Institutional Repository).

Click here to learn more about KORA and the benefits to you of adding your works.