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Digital Commons @ West Chester University: Author's Rights Retention Kit

A guide for using Digital Commons @ West Chester University from the West Chester University Libraries.

Attention Authors!

The publication process fails to serve the needs of an inattentive author.

In order to manage their copyright assets throughout the process it is vital that authors read and understand the agreements that they sign. Authors should think about both current needs and future uses of their works and be certain that they retain rights sufficient to accommodate those needs.

- From Copyright and authors' rights: A Briefing paper

Retain the Rights You Need

Publishers require only the author’s permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright.

Use Sherpa/Romeo to quickly find publishers' policies when deciding where to publish and what rights you'll need to negotiate. 

Use the How Open Is It? guide to make informed decisions about where to publish based on publishers' policies.

Use the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine to generate a customized addendum to your publisher's contract, reserving the rights you need.

Toll Access publishers’ contracts restrict an author's use of published work in teaching and research. Contracts may prohibit placing the final version publisher's pdf

Some publishers anticipate an author's legitimate need to distribute and repurpose his/her work and no longer require exclusive rights to publication.

About embargoes: Some publishers balance their interest in recouping publishing costs with the author’s desire to disseminate their ideas broadly, placing an embargo, usually 6-12 months, on the author's ability to place the publisher's pdf in a digital archive.



What to Look for in Publisher Copyright Agreement Forms:

• make the work accessible in Digital Commons @ West Chester University or another digital repository
• use part of the work as a basis for a future publication
• send copies of the work to colleagues
• share copies of the work with students
• comply with the NIH Public Access Policy or other funding agency policies
• present the work at conference or meeting and give copies of the work to attendees
• use a different or extended version of the work for a future publication
• make copies of the work for personal use and educational use
• use graphs, charts, and statistical data for a future publication
• use the work for educational use such as lecture notes or study guides
• comply with public access mandates
• deposit supplemental data from the work in an institutional or subject repository
• place a copy of the work on electronic reserves or use for student course-packs
• include the work in future derivative works
• make an oral presentation of the work
• include the work in a dissertation or thesis
• use the work in a compilation of works or collected works
• expand the work into a book form or book chapter
• retain patent and trademark rights of processes or procedures contained in the work

-Adapted from this list


This guide was originally created by Ann Viera & Peter Fernandez at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Author Rights Video by Diego Argaez/SPARC

1. Scrutinize the Copyright Transfer Agreement

2. Negotiate with the Publisher: transferring copyright doesn't have to be all or nothing

3. Retain the Rights You Need: Value Your Intellectual Property

Why Retain Your Rights?

Open or Closed: Author's Choice


How to take full advantage of digital technologies when publishing

"Experts on copyright law and scholarly publishing discuss how scholars and researchers can take full advantage of opportunities afforded by digital technology in today's legal environment."

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