As the author of an original work, you hold the copyright unless and until you decide to transfer that copyright to another entity through a written publication agreement. When a publisher presents you with a publication agreement, be sure to read it carefully, and don’t be afraid to ask them to remove any terms you find unsatisfactory, or add terms that better suit your needs.
When reviewing your publication agreement, there are several types of clauses to look out for:
Governing law and jurisdiction. Pay attention to any clauses that dictate which state’s law applies to the agreement, and where any lawsuits would take place.
Indemnification, warranties, and arbitration clauses. These types of clauses can create liability for you as the author, and limit your options in the event of a conflict.
Confidentiality clauses. These clauses would require you not to disclose some or all of the terms of the agreement.
Reuse and reproducibility. These are clauses governing what you (and others) can do with your work in the future. Does the agreement make your work openly available? Allow you to archive a copy in an institutional or disciplinary repository? Attach a Creative Commons license to your work? All of these options can increase readership and citation counts for your work.
A helpful tool in negotiating your author agreement is an author addendum, which can be used to modify the agreement and help you retain more of your rights in your work.
- One of the best author addenda is the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) Author Addendum.
If you would like help reviewing your author agreement, please contact the Copyright & Licensing Librarian, Kate Dickson, at firstname.lastname@example.org