Copyright for Researchers

This section aims to sum up Copyright for researchers. The goal for you is to keep your copyright.

When your article has been accepted for publication you should take into consideration the following:

  • Consider what rights you want to grant to your publisher
  • Study the proposed publisher agreements carefully

Check the SHERPA/RoMEO database for publisher copyright  conditions

  • Is deposit of pre-prints accepted?
  • Is deposit of post-prints accepted?
  • Embargo periods?

At least retain your rights to:

  • Parallel publish in an open archive, a university and/or a subject-based archive
  • Use your article in your teaching and research and in a future doctoral thesis

Finally, use SPARC Author Addendum to retain your Copyright.

Copyright law has traditionally aimed at creating a reasonable balance between the creator’s need for protection and the user’s need for access. The legal protection of the author is therefore balanced by exceptions and limitations for the common good but lately the publishing houses have been requiring a transfer of copyright to the publisher. The author’s intellectual property is thus transformed into the publisher’s material asset which leads to that publishers gaining and authors losing control of access and of use. This transfer of copyright leads to the monopolization of scientific information. The publishers (content owner) can control who, what, where and when you are allowed to read and simultaneously they set the price. This tipping of the scale led to the Open Access Initiative and the Berlin Declaration which has been signed by several Swedish universities and research institutions.

A person, who is the creator, has the copyright for that expression and the copyright regulates the use of a particular expression of an idea or information. You get copyright automatically, it does not have to be registered but it must be somewhat unique with a certain independence and originality. Copyright protection does not include ideas, factual circumstances, pieces of information or facts, but includes photos, drawings and maps inserted in a text.  

An author has two types of rights identified in Swedish law: economic and moral.

Economic rights:

  • Your right to make copies in any format
  • Your right to make the work accessible to the public  
  • Others cannot use your work without your permission

Moral rights:

  • Your right to be correctly attributed as the author
  • Your right to refuse any use that would harm your reputation  
  • The right to the integrity of your work

Copyright exceptions: Others may without permission copy your article for their personal use, refer to it, and quote from it

You have a choice to make: You either fully or partly assign your economic rights to others through a license. To assign means that you as the author signs away exclusive economic rights to the publisher, who then becomes the sole rights owner. To license means that the author licenses the publisher the right to use the whole work or parts of the work in a specified way, e.g. to publish it in a journal. It means that you retain your ownership and only contractually specified rights are granted to the publisher. A license is usually time-limited and after that period the rights return to the author. A granted license can be non-exclusive. In that case the author can grant the same rights to others. The moral rights cannot be assigned or licensed. They can only be disclaimed and that should only happen in exceptional cases.

When you write an agreement with a publisher make sure that the agreement specifies what is agreed upon. An agreement should always clearly define what is transferred or granted to whom and for what time period. Make sure to keep your parallel publishing rights in open archives and rights to use the article in teaching, research and a future doctoral thesis. Use the SPARC Author Addendum to keep your rights.