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Copyright & Fair Use: Author Rights

The purpose of this guide is to provide faculty, staff, and students at CCAC with an understanding of copyright law and fair use.

Author Rights Information

The Copyright Holder Controls the Work

Many publishers’ contracts restrict authors' subsequent usage of their published work in their teaching and research. For example, contracts often impede placing the published work

  • on course websites
  • in a course-pack
  • in scholarly presentations
  • on the author’s personal web page
  • and in scholarly e-print repositories 

In fact, after ceding copyright to the publisher, the author generally has little say in how the work is later used. The result, all too often, is that contracts restrict the dissemination of one’s scholarship and lessen one’s impact as an author.

Accordingly, authors should take care to assign the rights to their work in a manner that permits them and their colleagues to use the work freely, both in their teaching and research. Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Publishers require only the author’s permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. So, a “compromise” is often desirable, for example by authors adding an appropriate "scholarship dissemination-friendly" addendum to their contracts. (See below.)

"Scholarship Dissemination-Friendly" Addendum

Below is an example of relevant addendum language:

Author’s Retention of Rights. Notwithstanding any terms in the Publication Agreement to the contrary, AUTHOR and PUBLISHER agree that in addition to any rights under copyright retained by Author in the Publication Agreement, Author retains: (i) the rights to reproduce, to distribute, to publicly perform, and to publicly display the Article in any medium for noncommercial purposes; (ii) the right to prepare derivative works from the Article; and (iii) the right to authorize others to make any non-commercial use of the Article so long as Author receives credit as author and the journal in which the Article has been published is cited as the source of first publication of the Article. For example, Author may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open-access digital repositories.

Or, generate an addendum that can be attached to a publisher's contract:

Science Commons/SPARC Author Rights Addendum


  • One may use the Sherpa/RoMEO website to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.

  • Though it doesn’t include all publishers, the number listed is fairly large.

  • The entry for each publisher also lists conditions or restrictions imposed by the publisher which govern archiving rights or activities.
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