Know your author rights

When you create a work, Canadian law automatically grants the author(s) full ‘copyright’ over the work. In entering a traditional relationship with a commercial publisher to format and distribute the work, authors have often forfeited a few, many or all of their rights by transferring their rights in a ‘Copyright Transfer Agreement’ (CTA) or ‘Publishing Agreement’ to the publisher.

To meet funder open access mandates, or just to provide more flexibility to you as an author in any future intentions you have for your work, you want to read and understand publisher policies on open access and when entering a CTA, read it carefully to ensure meets your needs.

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Creative Commons & other open licenses

Author assistance for self-archiving, publishing versions and permissions

Publisher and/or funder mandates

Most funders, including the Canadian funder Tri-Agency (CIHR/NSERC/SSHRC), demand deposit in an open repository. This obligation may be qualified by a specified time period. You may or may not maintain these rights to self-publish and/or deposit depending on the agreement you sign.

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Navigating funder and publisher policy and compliance

Retain your rights

In your dissemination plan, you have assessed which journal with its publishing options (if there is more than one available) that most meets your needs. As an author, you always have the option to negotiate. See the Resources sections for negotiation tools to assist you. The UML Author Rights Guide provides sample addendums to ensure rights for funder compliance, including from the Tri-Agency.

Terms to Know:

  • Manuscript Versions throughout Publishing Lifecycle – see Author assistance for self-archiving, publishing versions and permissions

  • Assigning is the transfer of some or all of your rights to another party (e.g., a publisher). This assignment can last for the entire term of the copyright or for a specified time period; ‘assignment’ is synonymous with ‘copyright transfer agreement.' For considerations on how to terminate or prevent transfer, see the Termination of Transfer tool.
  • Licensing gives permission to another party to use your work under certain conditions while you retain ownership of your copyright and related rights. This can also work in the reverse; in many publishing agreements, you will transfer copyright to the publisher, but the publisher will license certain rights back to you.

How we can help you

In consultation, the Research Services librarian can assist you to navigate the complexities of author rights and publisher agreements including:

  • Review publisher agreements
  • Interpret publisher versions and reuse rights
  • Understand implications of Creative Commons and other open licenses
  • Refer to Copyright Office for more complex rights questions on a case by case basis

We also provide workshops and presentations on author rights and related topics. See Libraries’ workshop schedule or contact the Research Services Librarian for past and present education sessions.