What Authors Can Do
A copyright is actually a bundle of rights. Traditionally
all of them have been transferred to the publisher as a requirement
for publication, but it doesn't have to be this way. There are a number
of other options available to you.
Option 1: You retain all rights and
The ideal solution from the
author's perspective would be to retain the copyright and all associated
rights in their work while licensing to publishers only the rights
the publisher needs to conduct its business. You get to determine
who can use your scholarship.
You can, for example, grant
the publisher an exclusive license for the first formal publication
of the work (in print, digital ,or some other form). In addition,
you might want to grant the publisher non-exclusive rights to authorize
(or accomplish themselves) the following:
Subsequent republication of the work
• Reformatting of the publication (from print to microfilm or
digital formats, for example)
• Distribution via document delivery services or in course packs
The key issue with Option 1 is determining what are
the minimum bundle of rights that the publisher needs in order to
protect its investment in the publication. This will vary from publisher
to publisher. We have some sample
language that can help.
Option 2: You transfer your copyright,
but retain some specified rights.
You can assign your copyright to the publisher, but
at the same time reserve some specific rights for yourself. Rights
you might want to receive from the publisher include:
• The right to make reproductions for use in
teaching, scholarship, and research
• The right to borrow portions of the work for use in other
• The right to make derivative works
• The right to alter the work, add to the work, or update the
content of the work
• The right to be identified as the author of the work
• The right to be informed of any uses, reproductions, or distributions
of the work
• The right to perform or display the work
• The right to include all or part of this material in the
your thesis or dissertation
• The right to make oral presentation of the material in any
• The right to authorize making materials available to underdeveloped
nations for humanitarian purposes
• The right to archive and preserve the work as part of either
a personal or institutional initiative, e.g. On your web site or
in an institutional repository.
• The copyright in every draft and pre-print version of the
The weakness of Option 2 is that it is often difficult
to anticipate in advance everything that an author may wish to do
with a work, especially over time and with changes in information
The Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine can generate an addendum that can be attached to a publishing contract. The addendum reserves to the author the rights that are of greatest importance.
Option 3: You can transfer all copyrights
to the publisher.
Option 3 is the traditional solution, but is the least
desirable from the author's perspective.