The author of a research or creative work is the copyright owner of the work until these rights have been assigned to a publisher. A standard procedure when signing an agreement with the publisher about publication and dissemination of your research or creative work is to assign some or even, in certain cases, all of the rights to a work for a period of time. There can, however, be substantial differences between the agreements that different publishers ask authors to sign. The rights retained depend on the particular version of the work, and whether it is the final, edited version (publisher's copy) or the version that was originally submitted by the author for publication (pre-print).
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have created an addendum that can be used by scholars and researchers during the process of negotiating their rights with the publisher. The addendum, among other things, stipulates that the author retains the right "to make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open-access digital repositories." It is up to the publisher whether they will accept the SPARC addendum. If the publisher's terms ask you to give away from rights to your work than you are comfortable with, you may want to negotiate and to ask them to give you back some of these rights. Elsevier, for example, has a less restrictive "license to publish" that can, on request, be provided in lieu of its standard copyright agreement.
If you do not remember the conditions under which you assigned the rights to your work to a publisher in the past, visit SHERPA/RoMEO to view default policies by publisher or journal name.
More information on how the DePaul University Library can assist with the copyright, author's right, and scholarly publishing in general, please visit the Scholarly Publishing pages on our web site.
Which works are in public domain?
In the U.S., the works that were published before 1923 are in the public domain. However, depending on the nature of the work and the original place of its publication the copyright may still be valid. A more detailed information about establishing weather a particular work is in copyright can be found on the Cornell Library web site.
Sharing the works in public domain is allowed. Although the original author does not necessarily needs to be attributed a common recommendation is that the creator of the work receives a proper attribution.
Have you ever wondered how and if you can share the work that you found on the internet?
How Can I Share it? web site allows the scholars and researchers to establish how they can share the work by helping them access the publisher's policy on sharing the work they have identified.
A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enables the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. Different types of Creative Commons licenses and their descriptions can be found here.
Looking for an image that you can modify, adapt, and build upon and even use for commercial purposes?
Creative Commons web site may help. And yet, adding a word of caution here, do not assume that any of the images that you find through this web site are free to use. For any type of material identified online, whether this is an article in html, pdf, or any other format, a video posted by somebody, or an image, the rights associated with the object need to be established before attempting to share, adapt, or use it in your own work.