Please note: this document can only provide guidelines and should not be relied on for legal advice.
For further information please contact Alan Slevin, Institutional Repository Co-ordinator e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org ext. 4468.
Who owns the copyright of my article?
Articles that have already been published: in most cases you will have signed an agreement transferring copyright to the publisher.
Articles not yet submitted to a journal: currently you as the author retain copyright (the University does not assert copyright in respect of research related materials).
What rights might I be signing away to publishers?
This will vary depending on the agreement, but as a guide traditional copyright agreements may not permit authors to:
Am I required to sign copyright agreements as they stand? Can I make changes to an agreement or offer an alternative agreement?
Most publishers will be willing to discuss copyright agreements with authors. Obviously they may simply refuse to publish an article if an author is unwilling to sign a copyright agreement as it stands. However, publishers may be willing to accept a license that you have amended. They may also be willing to accept an alternative agreement.
A number of publishers are now starting to offer "License to publish" agreements as an alternative to "Copyright Transfer" agreements, and often these are more liberal and may permit authors to deposit their papers in institutional repositories.
A number of publishers now offer an open access publishing option, usually on the basis that an article will be made freely available at point of use on payment of an open access publishing fee. Articles go through exactly the same peer review process. Funding bodies such as the Wellcome Trust encourage authors to factor such costs into grant applications.
Is a "license to publish" any different from a traditional copyright agreement?
In many respects such agreements are no different. However, they may give authors a number of rights which were not permitted under previous copyright transfer agreements.
How can I find out which publishers have "open" copyright agreements?
Many publishers make their copyright agreements available on their web sites. Most agreements make it clear what rights authors are permitted to retain. If this is not the case it is best to contact the publisher directly. You can also consult the list of publishers' copyright policies and policies on self-archiving maintained by the SHERPA Project. Note that this list is not comprehensive, and it may not include information on the publisher you are interested in. However, it provides a useful way of seeing at a glance which publishers have open copyright agreements.
Authors also have the option of publishing their work in open access journals. Such journals are freely available without subscription. They operate the same peer review method as traditional subscription journals. Many open access journals operate a cost recovery method by charging a publication fee. This is sometimes referred to as the 'author pays' model; however, it is expected that as with the open access options offered by some traditional subscription publishers such a fee will be factored into grant applications.
The Lund Directory of Open Access Journals lists "free, full text, quality controlled scientific and scholarly journals by title and by subject".
Directory of Publishers Copyright Policies [RoMEO/SHERPA]
The Lund Directory of Open Access Journals [Lund University, Sweden]
Do publishers need copyright agreements to publish?
The JISC funded RoMEO Project carried out a series of studies on IPR issues. The fourth in a series of studies "An Analysis of Journal Publishers Copyright Agreements" found that publishers gave a variety of reasons for asking authors to assign copyright.
However, as can be seen from the fact that open access publishers do not require authors to assign copyright it is possible for articles to be published without copyright being assigned.
RoMEO Final Report and Studies Series An Analysis of Journal Publishers Copyright Agreements [RoMEO Studies 4]
Pre-prints/self-archiving: will publishers still be willing to publish my article if I have made a pre-print available in a subject or institutional repository?
This varies depending on the publisher. Many publishers make it a condition of publication that they will not consider any articles which have already been made publicly available. Some publishers specify that making a work available in a repository constitutes "prior publication". If in doubt check with the publisher directly.
If a publisher has changed its policy since my article was published does the new policy apply retrospectively?
Some publishers have changed their policies and extended the new rights to all authors regardless of when their papers were published. If it is unclear if new rights are to be applied retrospectively it may be necessary to contact the publisher to check if this is the case.
If you are keen to avoid assigning your rights away as an author you may wish to consider the following options suggested by the RoMEO Project:
How can I modify the licenses available I use?
A number of organisations have been working on developing model licenses. The Surf/JISC copyright toolbox is developed to assist authors and publishers to achieve a balance between granting maximum access to a journal article and financial compensation for the publication by the publisher of this article. Also, SPARC's Author Rights brochure identifies the rights faculty have as copyright holders and encourages you to retain the rights you need to ensure the broadest practical access to your articles.
Where can I find out more?
Further information about the copyright issues relating to this repository:
University of Strathclyde Copyright Licences
There is information on the copyright licences the University of Strathclyde holds:
JISC Introduction to Copyright
A good introduction to copyright (and other IPR) is produced by JISC: