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What You Can Do:

Manage Your Rights

"We call on UC authors and scholars … to exercise control of their scholarship … to ensure the widest dissemination of works…."
(The Case for Scholars' Management of Their Copyright (PDF) endorsed by the UC Academic Council, April 2006)

Q: Why should I retain my copyright?
A: More readers, greater impact.

Copyright, when signed over to a publisher, limits your ability to disseminate your work. By retaining your copyright, you can maximize your options for dissemination, thus maximizing your work's potential reach and gaining a wider audience for your scholarship.

Q: How do I retain my rights?
A: Attach an author's addendum to your contract.

An author's addendum is a standardized legal tool that can be used by journal authors to modify publisher copyright transfer agreements. An addendum, signed by both author and publisher, can be attached to your contract and is legally binding (i.e. the amendment "trumps" the Publisher's agreement).

UC recommends the Amendment to Publication Agreement (PDF). (Also available as a Word document.)

  1. This addendum gives authors the right to:
    • reproduce, distribute, perform, and display the work in teaching (i.e. distribute the article in question to students or colleagues). Just be sure you cite the article and journal properly.

    • prepare derivative works (i.e. as an author, you can publish subsequent works or make public presentations based on your own previously published scholarship).

    • make the work available in online digital form (i.e. you can post your article on your own personal website, deposit it in UC eScholarship or PubMed Central) as long as you wait until after the article has been published.

    • give the author's employing institution the right to place the work on an online repository (that is, you allow the University to post your work in an institutional repository).

    As more authors opt to attach authors' addenda to their contracts, these addenda will gain wider acceptance. Better yet, publishers may start to realize that the license to publish — rather than a complete copyright transfer — is all they require and the need for any kind of addendum will diminish over time.

  2. What if the publisher rejects the author addendum?

    If the publisher rejects the addendum, write back explaining why it is important to retain rights to your own work. Also register your objection with the editorial board and, if the journal is published by a commercial publisher on behalf of a society, write to the society as well.

    Consider publishing in an open-access journal or with a publisher that will allow you to retain your copyright. The Directory of Open Access Journals, listing almost 2500 titles, is one place to look.

    Publishing elsewhere may be neither practical or desirable. Rather than attaching an addendum, consider just marking out and replacing a phrase or two and then signing the amended publisher-supplied copyright transfer agreement.

    Share your experience with the campus Scholarly Communication Officer, Margaret Phillips ("mphillip" at "library dot berkeley dot edu"). The Library hopes to keep a record of publisher behavior. We may ask your permission to post a redacted version of your correspondence on a public website.

  3. Submit your postprints.

    As an author of a journal article you should consider "self archiving" your journal articles. In most cases, publishers who allow journal post-print publication require that you post what's called the "author's version." This is the author's final, accepted manuscript after peer-review but before the publisher's copy-editing and typesetting.

    To determine whether or not you have the right to post your article to eScholarship:

    • Refer to your original publication agreement. (It is, of course, always best to negotiate your rights in advance of journal publication. The easiest way to retain your right to publish postprints is to modify your publisher's contract before signing — see item 1 above).

    • Check the SHERPA/RoMEO site to see your publisher's policy.

    • Or, contact the original publisher to determine your rights.

    Advantages of self archiving:

    • The article can be discovered by anyone doing a Google search (wider audience).

    • Articles residing in a repository are ensured archival access.

    • As an author, you can post related and associated files that can't be published in a traditional journal.

    To submit an article to eScholarship, use the eScholarship postprints submission page.


Many other universities have recommended that their authors retain their copyright by attaching an addendum to the copyright transfer agreement. MIT has produced a Copyright Amendment Form. Science Commons has produced The Scholars Copyright Addendum Engine, which allows authors to enter basic information about their articles to generate a printable addendum for author publishing agreements.

Author's Rights Tout de Suite (PDF)
Designed to give journal article authors a quick introduction to key aspects of author's rights.

Reshaping Scholarly Communication: Manage Your Intellectual Property
From the UC Office of Scholarly Communication.

Resources for Authors
From SPARC. Includes more information about the Copyright Addendum Engine and other practical information for journal authors.

Seizing the Moment: Scientists' Authorship Rights in the Digital Age
A 2002 report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) concludes that "scientists should be more assertive in claiming their intellectual property rights…" in order "to increase access to and use of their works…."

Taking Back Control: Managing Copyright and Intellectual Property (PDF)
From the UC Berkeley Faculty Conference on Scholarly Publishing, March 2005.

UC Open Access Policy
Currently in the public comment phase, this policy proposes that UC faculty authors of published articles or conference proceedings routinely transfer a non-exclusive copyright to the University. The University will, in turn, make UC research findings available in eScholarship.

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