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Copyright protects expressions of ideas that are original and fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This protection goes into effect at the moment of creation. So the moment you put your pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard, you become a copyright owner.
Common copyrightable expressions include literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes, choreographic works, pictorial works, graphic works, sculptural works, motion pictures, audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.
Copyright Protects Exclusive Rights:
Under Section 106 of Title 17 of US Copyright Law, the author of work has exclusive rights under copyright:
- To reproduce the copyrighted work
- To make derivative works based on the copyrighted work
- To distribute copies of the work
- To publicly display or perform the work
Your Rights and Publishing
When you publish a book or article, you will be asked to sign an author’s agreement or publication agreement. Read this carefully. Publishers often include a full transfer of copyright in their publication agreements. If this is the case, do not fear! Publication agreements are negotiable. You can attach an Author Addendum to modify the terms of the agreement and protect you rights. Want to know more about how to negotiate your publication agreement? Contact the IP Rights Office for more information. (Link to Project Romeo)
You may also consider “unbundling” your rights by transfering some rights while licensing or retaining others. Some examples of rights you can negotiate to retain include:
- right to make copies of all or part of the article for teh authors use in classroom teaching
- royalty-free right to use, after publication, all or part of the article in any book of which he or she is the author or editor
- right to use figures and tables from the article, and up to 250 words of text, for any purpose.
Many publishers are becoming more friendly towards author’s rights, in part, do to funder mandates for open access such as the NIH Funding Policy. For example, Nature Publishing Group (NPG) asks its authors to grant NPG an exclusive license to publish, in return for which they can reuse their papers in their future printed work without first requiring permission from the publisher. Additionally, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) attaches a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY) to all the articles it publishes. In doing so, the author of the work retains copyright control of his or her content while allowing users of PLoS to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the content without the author’s permission as long as the the original author is named and cited appropriately.
Creative Commons – An Open Access Alternative