The OSU Libraries’ Publishing Program grew up as an extension of the Knowledge Bank, our repository program, and the two continue to share quite a bit. Some of those intersections, like a common platform (DSpace, used to publish some of our journals) and shared staff, are a benefit to both programs. In other cases, we have carried over something from the repository side that maybe isn’t the best fit for publishing. I came across one of those recently when I realized that the Knowledge Bank license agreement, which we had been using as an author agreement for our journals, didn’t include some provisions that are important to journal publishing. As an example, there is nothing in our KB license that would give the journal the right to contribute the article to a subject database for full-text indexing and discovery. When one of our editors was contacted by an indexing service, asking to index the full text of their journal, I had to sheepishly tell them that, while the risk was very low, they would most likely be infringing their authors’ copyright in doing so. It was also unclear who the licensee should be – is the author granting rights to the OSU Libraries? To the journal? As the license was adapted for various publications, the licensee morphed until we had a confusing – and embarrassing – variety.
To cut through the confusion and make sure our rights agreements were working for all parties, I worked with Sandra Enimil, Head of the Copyright Resources Center, and Maureen Walsh, the head of the Knowledge Bank program, to develop a standard author agreement. After multiple rounds of revisions and review by university legal counsel, we finally have a template that we’re all happy with. The agreement is intended to be modular, with sections that can be added or removed to support various licensing arrangements (like Creative Commons) and submission procedures (like the first part, about it taking effect upon acceptance). I would also emphasize that it’s not intended to be one-size-fits-all, even with the modularity, and we fully expect that individual journals – and occasionally even individual articles – will require modifications. For example, I just helped a student journal adapt it to include both the author’s acceptance and their advisor’s, and I worked with the editor of another journal (and Sandra, who is probably getting tired of me by now) to add a provision for an author who wanted to exempt the images in her submission from the Creative Commons license that was applied to the text.
Because I’m sure we’re not the only ones to struggle in this area, I wanted to share the agreement here. Please feel free to adopt, adapt, or draw from it.
[Journal name] Author Agreement
This agreement takes effect upon acceptance of the Submission entitled _______________________ (“Submission”) for publication.
By submitting this agreement, the undersigned author hereby grants to The Ohio State University, on behalf of its University Libraries’ Knowledge Bank (hereinafter “Publisher”), the non-exclusive right to reproduce, translate, display, and/or distribute the Submission (including the abstract) as part of [society name]’s [journal name] (“Journal”), in print and electronic format and in any medium. You also agree that the Publisher may make and retain more than one copy for the purpose of preservation, security, and backup. You represent that you, as sole author and/or on behalf of your co-authors, have the authority to grant the rights contained in this agreement. You also represent that your Submission does not, to the best of your knowledge, infringe upon anyone’s copyright. If the Submission contains material for which you do not hold copyright, you represent that you have obtained the unrestricted permission of the copyright owner to grant the Publisher the rights in this agreement, and that such third party owned material is clearly identified and acknowledged within the text or content of the Submission. Alternatively, you represent that your use of third party material is allowed because the material is in the public domain or you have performed a fair use analysis and reasonably believe your use is permitted.
The author understands that the Publisher may grant these same rights to Journal. Additionally, the author also grants the right to both Journal and Publisher to enter into agreements with third party entities that grant such third party entities any or all of the rights that author has granted to Publisher herein. The aforementioned rights may include the rights necessary to index and abstract the Submission.
The author agrees that any subsequent publication of the Submission will credit the Journal as the site of first publication and provide a link to the Journal website.
[Creative Commons section if applicable] [Journal name] is published under a [name of Creative Commons license] license, to allow for certain types of reuse without permission. By submitting this agreement, the author agrees to apply a [name of Creative Commons license] license to the Submission upon publication.
[Name, date, signature, etc.]
(Obligatory legal disclaimer: This template does not constitute legal advice, and makes no determination, declaration, claim or warranty of rights obtained for any particular scenario.)