With only a few exceptions (see Carleton’s copyright policy) you own the rights to your copyrightable work until you sign a contract that states otherwise. For scholars, this typically comes up when a publisher accepts a work for publication and sends the scholar an author agreement.

If you want to be able to share or reuse your work in the future (including posting copies online), you have a two options:

  1. Look for an Open Access publisher in your field (talk to your librarian if you would like help identifying a publisher)
  2. Negotiate with your publisher to retain some or all of your copyrights

Author Agreements and You (and the Carleton Digital Commons)

If you want to retain rights to your work, especially to be able to submit your work to the Carleton Digital Commons (our forthcoming institutional repository), here are several helpful resources

If you want to keep it as simple as possible, write to your publisher and ask if you can have an author agreement that specifies that the publisher is granted “non-exclusive rights,” leaving you the exclusive rights. A typical sentence in such an author agreement might be “The Author grants to [the publisher] a royalty-free, non-exclusive right to publish and distribute the articles in all forms of media.” Usually these agreements will stipulate ways that you should credit the publisher for first publication in any future sharing or modification.

Here is an example of an agreement where the above request was successful:

The University of Minnesota reassures researchers that they are “aware of no instance in which a publisher has refused to publish an article where the author initially sought to retain some non-exclusive rights to the article” (from their Managing Your Rights information page).