Copyright for Scholars and Creators

At the time you create a work of scholarship or creativity, you simultaneously become its copyright holder. In general, authors/creators at IPFW own the rights to their works of scholarship and creativity unless they have given those rights in writing to another party or have produced the work under a grant that required some other distribution rights. Unless you have transferred the copyright to another person or organization, you remain the copyright holder and may elect to distribute your work through Opus: Research & Creativity at IPFW.

In the course of formally publishing journal articles and other works of scholarship and creativity, most publishers/producers require authors/creators to sign a copyright agreement or assignment of copyright. Until recently many of these agreements transferred the “exclusive rights” of the scholar/creator to the publisher. This means that you, as author/creator, retain NO rights to distribute, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, or use your work in future publications without the permission of the publisher/producer.

Recent efforts by research universities to regain rights to disseminate and archive the work of their faculty have resulted in a change in publisher’s contracts. More publishers are now granting authors/creators some rights to their work, especially the right to deposit a digital copy in the faculty member’s university institutional repository, e.g., Opus. Before signing the publisher’s contract, read it and use the library’s checklist to identify the rights that the publisher grants you for the use of your published work.

If you have already signed away “exclusive rights” to your scholarly/creative work, many publishers have changed their restrictions on posting published works to an institutional repository and are granting these rights retrospectively. These agreements vary from publisher to publisher. In general, the publisher may allow: 1) a preprint version (before peer-review or editing); 2) a post-print version of the work (after peer-review and editing); 3) a post-print version of the work that the you have updated to mirror the published version; or 4) the journal’s published version. The SHERPA/RoMEO site provides easy access to the general publication terms of many publishers. If the publisher is not listed in the SHERPA/RoMEO Web site or the publisher does not grant authors the right to archive their work in a digital repository, IPFW library will contact the publisher and request permission on your behalf to archive your work.

For current and future publications, it is now possible to modify the publisher’s copyright agreement with an “addendum” that defines rights reserved to the author/creator. Purdue University and Indiana University have approved and encourages authors/creators to attach to all negotiations with publishers the Addendum to Publication Agreements for CIC Authors ( The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, CIC (the academic consortium representing the Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago*) has drafted this legal contract for use with all academic publishing agreements. The addendum negotiates the right of the author/creator to provide access to a digital copy of his or her work through Opus: Research & Creativity at IPFW six months after the initial publication date. Some publishers may resist allowing an addendum to their standard copyright agreement, but you have the support of major research universities, including IU and Purdue which are encouraging “contract language that ensures that academic authors retain certain rights that facilitate archiving, instructional use, and sharing with colleagues to advance discourse and discovery.”

It is also incumbent upon faculty to select publishers that encourage widespread dissemination and impact of scholarship and creativity. Author’s should consider publishing strategies that optimize short- and long-term access to their work, taking into account such factors as affordability, efficient means for distribution, a secure third-party archiving strategy, and flexible management rights.

If you need help with questions about managing your intellectual property and reserving the rights to provide open access to your publications, please see IPFW Guide to Copyright ( or contact the Dean of the Helmke Library (). In addition, the Purdue University Copyright Officer, Donna Ferullo, JD, () is available to assist with copyright issues.

* Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Iowa, The Ohio State University, Northwestern University, University of Minnesota, Indiana University, Michigan State University, and The Pennsylvania State University