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How to Negotiate with Publishers — Copyright for Authors

What is Copyright?

  • Copyright is an exclusive set of rights granted to the original author(s) of creative works
  • Copyright is automatic for tangible creative work
  • Facts or intangible ideas cannot be copyrighted, such as like experimental data. However a creative arrangement of facts can be copyrighted, such as experimental data arranged in tables and graphs.
  • Copyright is included in the Constitution at Article I Section 8 | Clause 8 – Patent and Copyright Clause of the Constitution. [The Congress shall have power] “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
  • Works created by the U.S. Federal government are not copyrighted

For more information go to the US Copyright Office FAQ or the UConn Library Copyright page.

What are the rIghts in copyright?

Copyright is a bundle of rights:

  • The right to reproduce the work
  • The right to distribute the work
  • The right to prepare a derivative (a different version) of the work
  • The right to publicly perform the work 
  • The right to publicly display the work

What do you lose when you give up copyright?

You may need permission to 

  •  Put the work in a study guide or it on place on e-reserve
  •  Use as a basis for future writing
  •  Post the full text on your website or in a repository
  •  Re-use graphs or figures in future work
  •  Give copies to friends and colleagues
  •  Create a compilation of your works
  •  Expand your work into a book or book chapter
  •  Retain patent and trademark rights of processes or procedures in the work

Any use you DO have is determined by the new copyright holder or under the Fair Use Exemption.

Why does copyright matter to authors?

  • Your manuscript is your intellectual property, created in hours, days, or longer from your own efforts
  • Scholarly journal publishers regularly ask for permanent ownership when you transfer your rights, which means you give up all your copyrights to them and any right to use them as you wish in the future
  • The entire bundle of rights is not needed to publish and distribute your work
  • You can license access to your work for publication without giving away your copyrights
  • You can assign others the right to use your work in specific ways

Why do we give up copyright?

  • Tradition – academics have given up their copyright for decades or longer
  •  The author doesn’t want to deal with another task or problem
  •  Publishers seem to expect it
  •  The author fears losing the contract if modification is attempted, but that really never happens
  •  The author doesn’t like conflict, but conflict is not necessary