Though authors of scholarly articles may not realize it, some traditional journals may require that you transfer your copyright to the publisher upon publication. Signing away your copyright often prevents authors from making freely available copies of their own work. See below for important information about exercising your author rights.
The Scholarly Communications and Copyright Office staff are available for individual consultations on retaining authors rights and gaining a better understanding of publisher copyright policies. Contact email@example.com to connect with staff.
Author rights apply to your original works of authorship
- You hold the copyright to your work as soon as you put it onto paper, type it onto your computer screen, or fix it in some other media (registration is not required)
- You hold the copyright for your lifetime plus 50 years
- Your copyright is inheritable, or you can sign it over to another person or body
Author rights allow you to:
- Reproduce your work (publish, make copies, reformat, etc.)
- Create derivative works (edit or build upon an existing piece of scholarship)
- Distribute the work (publish, republish, give away, sell, etc.)
- Perform, display, or broadcast your work in public
Author rights are inheritable, separable, and assignable
- Rights held from creation through the author’s life plus 50 years
- Copyright in a work may be assigned or licensed to others. All assignments and licences of copyright must be in writing to be valid. The mere transfer of physical possession of a work does not thereby include an assignment of copyright in the work
- Subsequent rights holders may assign rights in whatever way they choose
How to retain your rights
- When publishing new articles, attach an addendum to publisher agreements so that you can keep the rights to use and distribute your own works
- Recommended resources: SPARC Canadian Author Addendum, CARL Guide to Using the Author Addendum, and the CARL Guide to Author Rights.
Protected under Canadian copyright law, moral rights remain with the author of a work, even when the copyright in the work has been sold or assigned.
Moral rights include:
- The author's right to be associated with the work as its author by name or under a pseudonym and the right to remain anonymous
- The author's right to the integrity of the work (that is, the author's right to stop the work from being distorted, mutilated or modified, to the prejudice of the author's honour or reputation, or from being used in association with a product, service, cause or institution)
- Read more about Moral Rights in section 14.1 of the Copyright Act
Make sure you have the rights to re-use and re-distribute your own work in classes without copyright infringement.
Use the SHERPA/RoMEO website to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher’s copyright agreement. If your publisher does not have SHERPA/RoMEO green or gold status or if you'd like to use the published version of your article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.