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Protect your copyright

As an author it is important to protect your copyright and consider carefully just how much of your copyright you are willing to surrender to others, such as a commercial publisher, for example.

If, in a negotiation with a publisher, you are presented with a contract that transfers all rights to the publisher (an exclusive agreement), this may restrict your own rights to publish and disseminate the results of your research.

You may therefore wish to correct such agreements, so that they are acceptable to you. 

Examples of model contracts:

  • The Committee for the Protection of Scientific Work (UVBA) under The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations has, together with The Danish Authors' Society and The Danish Publishers Association, produced a model agreement for scientific and popular scientific use:
    Licence to publish (in Danish)
    The agreement covers both printed and electronic publishing, and the contract only transfers certain specific rights to the publisher. The author retains the other rights and may only exercise those rights the publisher has not taken over. One should be aware of the loyalty concept, the implication of which is that one must not publish a work in a form that competes with the publisher's ability to market the work according to the agreement.
  • Knowledge Exchange Licence to Publish. 
    The model contract ensures that copyright remains with the author. Only certain rights are transferred to the publisher. The contract is valid as soon as the publisher has indicated that they want to publish the work. Once the article is published, the author can make the work publicly available in the publisher's version, for example, by publishing via the AU's research portal PURE. If the publisher requires it, the public release can be delayed by a maximum of six months.

Author addenda to publishing contracts

An author addendum to a publishing contract is a document that can be attached to a publishing contract with a view to assuring the author some specific rights.

A negotiation and a contract is a meeting between two different worlds who must come to an agreement on some common conditions. In other words, both parties must agree on the terms. Although it can be time consuming to enter into negotiations with a publisher on the retention of some of your copyrights, it may actually yield good results.

It is important to ensure that a contract is binding and also includes the addendum. In particular, one should note the following:

  • Already during negotiations with the publishers, draw their attention to the fact that you intend to send an addendum regarding the retention of certain rights.
  • In connection with the publisher's signature it must be stated that the contract is subject to an addendum.

The publisher must also sign the addendum.

There are many possibilities for addenda. Sciencecommons.org has made a contract generator with four examples of different author addenda which researchers can use to, for example, retain their right to continue to use the article. The author addendum can be generated in PDF format and attached to a publishing contract. Generate your own author addendum.