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Tag: Copyright (page 1 of 7)

Navigating the Article Publishing Process: Understanding Authors’ Rights

This post is part three of a series covering topics found in the research guide Navigating the Article Publication Process.

What are my rights as an author?

As an author of an article, you are given certain rights under U.S. copyright law. In this blog post we will discuss what it means to be the author of a work and the full scope of rights that authors have in the works they create.

Who is an author under U.S. copyright law?

In the United States, original works of authorship receive copyright protection as soon as they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Articles, books, and other scholarly publications are all examples of literary works that can receive copyright protection the moment they are written or otherwise captured in fixed form. Formal publication is not required for copyright protection.

Generally, the author or creator of a work is considered the initial copyright owner of the work. And under the law, authors are given a bundle of exclusive rights in their work. It is up to the authors to then decide if they would like to retain or transfer those rights.

An important exception to this default rule, however, is for works made for hire. A work made for hire can either be:

(1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of their employment, or

(2) a specially ordered or commissioned work that falls into one of a limited number of permissible categories, and under which both parties agree in writing that the work is to be considered a work made for hire.

In the case of a work made for hire, it is the employer or the party that commissioned the work that is considered the author of the work. As the author of the work, the employer or commissioning party would hold the exclusive rights as copyright owners.

Copyright can be transferred over time, so the initial author of a work may not be the current rightsholder. This transfer may occur, for example, under the terms of a publishing agreement. It is not uncommon to see publishing agreements that ask for the author of the article to transfer some or all of their rights to the publisher.

Copyright ownership and norms around authorship may be further impacted by institutional policies. Finally, The Ohio State University Authorship Guidelines provide additional aid in defining rights, responsibilities, roles, and order of authorship.

Copyright ownership under the OSU Intellectual Property Policy

The Ohio State University, like many other institutions, has an institutional policy that further clarifies copyright ownership for works created by OSU students and employees. The Ohio State University Intellectual Property Policy establishes rules on ownership based on your specific affiliation with the university (faculty, staff, or student) and the type of work you’ve created (including Instructional Works, Scholarly Works, and Artistic Works).

In general, the university does not claim copyright in Scholarly Works of faculty members, including scholarly publications, journal articles, and books. Students retain copyright in copyrighted materials that they author in a student (non-employee) capacity, such as a thesis or dissertation. And generally, copyrighted materials created by staff within the scope of their employment are owned by the university, which aligns with the work made for hire doctrine discussed earlier.

Accompanying the policy is a FAQ and interactive tool to assist in answering ownership questions.

What rights does an author have?

The automatic exclusive rights granted to an author under copyright law allow the author to do or authorize any of the following:

  1. Reproduce the work;
  2. Prepare derivatives of the work;
  3. Distribute copies of the work to the public;
  4. Publicly perform the work;
  5. Publicly display the work;
  6. And in the case of sound recordings, publicly perform the work by means of digital audio transmission

These rights are not unlimited—there are many important exceptions in the law that permit certain uses of copyright protected works—but they give authors a lot of power to control how their work is being used. When it comes time to sign a publishing agreement, you may be asked to transfer in writing some or all of these rights to the publisher. Before signing, be sure to read your full agreement to understand how your rights may be impacted under the terms of your publishing agreement. Reading and understanding your agreement will allow you to identify terms you may wish to negotiate with your publisher. In our next blog post, we will review some common terms in publication agreements and what they might mean for you as an author.


Do you have questions about author rights under U.S. copyright law? Copyright Services offers weekly consultation hours through Research Commons. More information on copyright can be found at the Copyright Services website.

Making Your Research More Affordable and Accessible Through Open Licensing

Join the University Libraries’ Copyright Services during International Open Access Week to learn more about the benefits and special considerations in making your scholarship and teaching materials openly available through Creative Commons open licenses. This presentation will provide an introduction to the rights provided automatically to authors and creators under copyright law and review important points of copyright ownership under Ohio State’s IP policy. We will explore the different open license options provided by Creative Commons and discuss how those licenses can be utilized in your teaching and research.

Who: OSU faculty, staff, post docs and graduate students
When: Monday, October 19, 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Where: Zoom

This event has already passed. You can access a captioned recording here.

Copyright Consideration For Your New (Or Old) Online Course

How does copyright law differ for distance learning and traditional face to face courses? What permissions do you need to share or include another’s content in your online course? Does copyright law have an exception for emergencies? Who owns the copyright in the works you create? Join the University Libraries’ Copyright Services for a presentation on the basics of copyright for online instruction. This presentation will cover copyright exceptions for online teaching, an introduction to using openly licensed content, and copyright best practices for transitioning from a face-to-face to online course.

Who: Ohio State Faculty
When: Tuesday, Aug, 11, 2020 from 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

This workshop has already happened. You can access a recording here.

2 Million In-Copyright Books Opened for The Ohio State University By HathiTrust

HathiTrust has opened emergency temporary access to copyrighted materials in their digital library to member institutions with copies of those items in their physical collections. Books available through HathiTrust which are also in The Ohio State University Libraries collections have been made available online without the additional step of requesting a digital scan. This action from HathiTrust allows digital access to nearly two millions volumes, corresponding to approximately 46% of the printer collection held at Ohio State.

To take advantage of this resource:

  1. Visit and click the yellow “LOG IN” button.
  2. Select “The Ohio State University” and log in using your university credentials.
  3. Use the site to locate the item you wish to view.
  4. Click on the Temporary Access link at the bottom of the record to check out the item through the Emergency Temporary Access Service.

Users will have 60 minutes of access to the book during a session. If you remain active in the book during a session, access time will be extended. Users are not permitted to download a book in any way and may only read materials online in an active session while using HathiTrust in order to protect the author’s rights. More information on accessing the materials is available in their Information for Users and FAQs for students, faculty and staff

The Emergency Temporary Access Service will be available to members of our campus community for as long as University Libraries facilities are closed and circulation of print materials is suspended.

POSTPONED: Digging Deeper into the Public Domain (Workshop)

Join University Libraries’ Copyright Services for part two of a workshop series on the public domain. This session provides information on different factors that impact the copyright status and duration of many different types of creative works. Attendees will have the opportunity to further explore resources and best practices for determining if a work is in the public domain, using materials from the Ohio State Libraries’ collections. Prior attendance of the series is not required.

Who: Ohio State faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate students
When: Tuesday, March 24, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Research Commons, 3rd floor of 18th Avenue Library

This event has been postponed.

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