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Copyright: Faculty/Staff Author Rights

What you need to consider before sharing works you authored on your websites.

You've published your work and want to share that work with others on your faculty/staff website. That's wonderful! But before you share your work, you must make sure you own the copyright. If you don't, that doesn't mean you can't share your work. Instead, it means you must share your work in a way that is copyright compliant.

According to the Association of Research Libraries:

"US Copyright law gives the author of an original work, such as a scholarly article, the exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, adapt, publicly perform, and publicly display the copyrighted work. Copyright protection is now automatic. The author obtains these exclusive rights at the moment the copyrighted work has been “fixed in a tangible medium,” such as when a written work has been saved on a computer's hard drive or printed.

The author retains these exclusive rights up until the moment the author signs a written agreement to transfer some or all of these exclusive rights. (By contrast, an author may give others non-exclusive permission to use the copyrighted work in a variety of ways, including through verbal agreement.) A transfer of any exclusive right is truly exclusive—once transferred, the author may no longer exercise that right. If the author intends to retain the right to make any further uses of the copyrighted work, or intends to grant others permission to make any use of the copyrighted work, the author must make this clear in a written transfer agreement."

How do I share something I wrote if I don't own the copyright?

Read your contract first; this may dictate specific ways you can share your research. You may not be able to share a PDF of the published article, but you may be able to share your scholarship in the following ways: 

  • Pre-print or in-press version 
  • Uncorrected proof 
  • A final, unformatted version
  • A presentation of your article (i.e. conference presentation or photo of a poster session, but make sure that the venue in which you presented your paper allows this)
  • A link to the publisher's website which houses the article

Even if you can't share the complete article, you can at least share your abstract and a link to the article on the publisher's website. Viewers may not be able to read your article without a paid subscription or through a library subscription, but at least viewers can see the citation and your publication credit.

Check out the information below for a better understanding of your copyrights as an author and how you work to maintain more of your rights in the future.

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