A Copyright Story

In celebration of April 23rd, the 14th World Book and Copyright Day, proclaimed by UNESCO I wanted to share a copyright success story.

I was accepted for publication earlier this month in a journal owned by T&F. The "Transfer of Copyright Agreement" they sent was not great. It significantly limited my rights, namely it withheld:

  • the non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, distribute, and make derivative works of the article in all areas of my profession (not just teaching)
  • the ability to legally contribute this work, or some preprint form of it, to my university's institutional repository after an embargo period of 6-months (or other negotiable time period).

My first step was to send them the UMN's author addendum (pdf). This is a document approved by the CIC and provided by each of the big 10 universities that reclaims some of the copyrights I mention above. Read more at the library's scholarly communications page.

Rather than accepting the addendum, as other publishers have reportedly done, they sent me a second, secret copyright agreement that they "don't like to give out."

The appropriately named "Author or Company Owned Copyright Transfer" is an agreement that allows the publisher to use my work for the journal in this instance only and specifically states that the

Copyright of the manuscript remains in the author’s name and the author reserves all other rights.

So, bottom line, it was worth the trouble and it didn't hurt to ask (in this case). Any other successful copyright stories? Horrors?

For more info on the April 23rd, 2009 World Book and Copyright Day visit the website http://www.unesco.org/culture/bookday