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Detailed guidelines for authors, instructors, and students.

How to Retain Your Rights

  • Often publishers create significant barriers for authors who want to reuse their work, or allow others to use it. Negotiating changes to these standard agreements can help authors avoid unfortunate barriers to reuse and sharing.
  • Some research funders require that work created with their funds be made available openly on the web (example: the NIH requires grant receivers to deposit articles into PubMed Central, see Carpenter Library Research Guide on NIH Public Access Compliance). 
  • Before you decide on a publisher, check Sherpa/Romeo for publishers policies.
  • Negotiate with the publishers to retain explicit ownership of your content or transfer, via an author addendum, to the publisher only those rights needed for publication.


Science Commons Author Addendum


Register Your Work

Copyright registration is not required in order to enjoy protection for your work. However, it is still a good idea to register your copyright in a work. It is an easy process that helps ensure the U.S. Copyright Office has a record of your original work and your claim to copyright ownership. Registration is also the required first step if you decide to sue someone for infringement. Copyrights can be registered online through the Copyright Office Registration Portal.

Author's Rights

Know your rights as an author. As the author of a work, you are the exclusive copyright holder unless or until you transfer your rights.

Copyright grants you the exclusive rights to...

  • To reproduce the work in copies (e.g., through photocopying)
  • To distribute copies of the work
  • To prepare transitional or other derivative works
  • To perform or display the work publicly
  • To authorize others to exercise any of these rights
  • To reuse your work in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities.

To post your work on the web page (sometimes referred to as “self-archiving”), in a discipline archive (such as PubMed Central, or arXiv, or in an institutional repository (Profiles is Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist's for faculty only).

Know your rights under Fair Use, the TEACH Act, "public domain," and permissions to use copyrighted work. Copyright protection exists from the time the work is created in a fixed, tangible form of expression. However, registering a work for copyright affords the owner additional legal rights. You can register a work through the Copyright Clearance Center or directly with the U.S. Copyright Office.

The author of the original works owns the copyright unless the work was for hire and then the employer owns the copyright.

What you could lose if you sign away your rights?

The right to:

  • Use your work in a course pack
  • Place copies on print or electronic reserves
  • Mount a copy on your web site
  • Deposit a copy in your institutional repository
  • Distribute a copy to colleagues

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