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JSU Digital Commons | Guide for Faculty: Copyright & Permission FAQs

This guide provides detailed information for faculty on how to upload their scholarship to the repository, manage their accounts, and search JSU Digital Commons.

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Who owns copyright?

Under current U.S. law, a creator owns copyright automatically in his/her original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Translation: when you put it to keyboard and hit save, you own it. Exception: Works made for hire. Rights may be transferred or licensed in whole or in part. So in general, when you write your manuscript, you own the copyright. When you have your paper or book accepted for publication, journal and book publishers require that you sign over some or all of your rights to them.  

What if my work is unpublished?

Then you're probably home free. One thing you should consider are the rights of any collaborators or co-authors. 

Do I have the legal right to deposit my previously-published work with JSU Digital Commons?

The short answer: probably, in the majority of cases. But what version of your work you can deposit will depend on the agreement you signed with the publisher. See the Manuscript Versions box at right for definitions on the different versions of your work. The version you usually cannot deposit is the publisher's PDF (the version found on publishers' websites and in subscription databases).

Whose responsibility is it to seek permission?

Yours, as the author. The Library is happy to help you find information to make sure you have the requisite permissions -- if you need help, reach out to us. But we are not copyright lawyers, and we cannot offer legal advice.

What rights am I giving JSU Digital Commons anyway?

Non-exclusive rights for worldwide reproduction and distribution (ie, to preserve and make your work publicly accessible via the Internet). See the JSU Digital Commons Submission Agreement to view the exact wording you'll agree to.

What if my work needs to be removed from JSU Digital Commons due to permissions or other issues?

In the unlikely event that a work needs to be removed from JSU Digital Commons, please contact the Digital Assets & Special Collections Librarian. More information about withdrawal from JSU Digital Commons can be found in the Library's Institutional Repository Policy.

Reference: Meindertsma, Jessica, "Copyright Considerations for Institutional Repositories" (2014). Ohio IR Day. 3.

Copyright & Permissions: Digging Deeper

How do I find my journal publisher's rules about depositing?
  • Check SHERPA/RoMEO publisher permission database
  • Check publishing agreement
  • Check publisher’s policy on their website
  • If a work for hire, check your institution's policy on works made for hire

Most commercial publishers will not allow the final, published PDF files to be deposited in an institutional repository for public access. This is the case with the American Chemical Society, American Psychological Association, Elsevier, Institute of Physics, Oxford, Routledge, Sage, Springer, Taylor & Francis, and Wiley, to name a few. These publishers do allow the final revised manuscript (including changes made after peer review) to be deposited.

There are other publishers who will permit the deposit of finished versions (eg, American Mathematical Association, American Physical Society, Chicago University Press, Rockefeller University Press).

Is there any way I can negotiate my author rights with a journal before my work is published?

You can try, though whether or not a publisher is willing to cede some of the rights authors typically grant in publisher agreements varies greatly from journal to journal. The easiest way to attempt to retain the rights you wish (particularly for archiving and open access purposes) is through an addendum to the publisher's agreement. Since very few of us are copyright lawyers, it's helpful that boilerplate for the typical rights issues authors encounter is already available through a quick Internet search. One particularly helpful tool is the Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine. It defines several different copyright scenarios and then allows you to generate the appropriate addendum after entering author, journal, title, and publisher information. 

You may also make the attempt to retain full copyright of your work, and grant the publisher only the rights necessary for it to publish your work. It should be noted that very few publishers will make this type of agreement, though it never hurts to ask. See the University of California's "Managing Copyright and Negotiating Publishing Agreements" for a detailed overview and options or Arizona State's "A Very Short Guide to Copyright Negotiation."

What does open access mean? What's all this green/blue/yellow/white/gold nonsense?

Open access can be defined as the dissemination of scholarly works that are "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions." If you create an open access institutional repository, like JSU Digital Commons, the idea is for most, if not all, of the works contained therein to adhere to these principles. Many in the scholarly communication community color code publishers with regard to the permissions typical in their author agreements:

  • Green - you can archive both the pre-print and post-print version (see Manuscript Versions Defined box at right for definitions of these versions)
  • Blue - you can archive the post-print
  • Yellow - you can archive the pre-print
  • White - you cannot archive the pre-print or the post-print (essentially, you cannot archive at all)
  • Gold - gold access means that you published with an open access journal, so your article is freely available from the moment of publication; alternately, gold access has now come to be applied to journals that offer a hybrid model. These journals are generally paywalled, but offer the possibility for authors to open individual articles by paying an extra fee. There is also delayed gold open access, when articles become free for readers on the publisher’s website after a time of embargo (usually 12 months) after initial publication.
What's a Creative Commons license?

If you retain the copyright of your work (whether through negotiation with the publisher or for unpublished work), you can grant a variety of rights to anyone you want (not just publishers) while stipulating exactly what people can and can't do with your work. You can do this through the use of a Creative Commons license. This is especially valuable in the area of creative work. The process:

A Creative Commons licensor answers a few simple questions on the path to choosing a license — first, do I want to allow commercial use or not, and then second, do I want to allow derivative works or not? If a licensor decides to allow derivative works, he/she may also choose to require that anyone who uses the work — we call them licensees — to make that new work available under the same license terms. We call this idea “ShareAlike” and it is one of the mechanisms that (if chosen) helps the digital commons grow over time. ShareAlike is inspired by the GNU General Public License, used by many free and open source software projects.

Our licenses do not affect freedoms that the law grants to users of creative works otherwise protected by copyright, such as exceptions and limitations to copyright law like fair dealing. Creative Commons licenses require licensees to get permission to do any of the things with a work that the law reserves exclusively to a licensor and that the license does not expressly allow. Licensees must credit the licensor, keep copyright notices intact on all copies of the work, and link to the license from copies of the work. Licensees cannot use technological measures to restrict access to the work by others. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/)

Find out more at the Creative Commons website.

What do I need to know about embargoes?

In addition to specifying which versions of a manuscript an author can share in repositories and other venues (see the Manuscript Versions Defined box on this page), publisher agreements will also sometimes include an embargo. In essence, the academic journal allows the author to make the work available in an open repository, but must first wait a specified time after the publication of article in the journal. Typical embargo periods are three months, six months, or a year.


Useful Links

Manuscript Versions Defined

A manuscript goes through multiple versions on the way to publication. In publisher license and author agreements, the following terminology is usually used when discussing rights, so it's important to understand what it means:

Pre-print – A pre-print is the original version of the manuscript as it is submitted to a journal. While the authors may have sought help from their colleagues (eg, improving manuscript clarity and correcting grammar), the pre-print has not been through the journal's process of peer review. It is often a Word or PDF document with minimal formatting.

Post-print – A post-print is a document that has been through the peer review process and incorporated reviewer comments. It is the final version of the paper before it is published by the journal. It may be missing a final copyedit and may not yet be formatted to look like the journal. Sometimes, the term “pre-print” is used interchangeably with “post-print,” but when it comes to permissions issues, it is important to clarify which version of a manuscript is being discussed.

Publisher's Version/Publisher's PDF -- This is the version of record that is published on the publisher's website. It will be professionally typeset by the publisher. Library databases link to this version of the paper.

The majority of journals will allow a pre-print or post-print to be archived in an institutional repository like JSU Digital Commons. But each journal is different, and you must check the journal's policy. SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher policies that's a great place to start. If you can't find what you need there, your copyright transfer agreement (signed at the time of submission acceptance) and/or the publisher's website are other sources.

Reference: ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Authors' Rights