Your Intellectual Property (IP) Rights – Open Access Series


  • You’ve written that paper, now you are almost published.  What are your rights as an author?

Here’s the first thing to remember: the author of a work owns copyright in that work.

As copyright owner(s), you (and your co-authors) have the exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce the work in a material form;
  • publish the work;
  • perform the work;
  • communicate the work to the public (includes online communications); and
  • make an adaptation of the work (e.g. a translation).

While you remain the copyright owner, no one else can exercise any of these rights without your permission, subject to exceptions in the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

As an author your options are either to:

  • Transfer copyright ownership to another person through an assignment in return for payment or the provision of a service, the most common being a publishing agreement.  Publishers have traditionally required an author to assign copyright in their work, in exchange for having the work published.
  • License your work. Licensing is a way for the copyright owner to give permission to another person to use one or more of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights.

Things to consider for open access compliance when negotiating with publishers are:

  • Does your funding body recommend the deposit of funded research output into a repository?
  • Depositing in an institutional repository (Griffith Research Online (GRO)) subject to your publisher giving you permission to self-archive your work (Green OA)
  • Is your publisher open access (Gold OA), toll access (subscription) or hybrid?

There are a range of mechanisms to assist you in negotiating publisher agreements and/or licensing to ensure that you have considered your rights:

  • Sample agreements, clauses and wording
  • Author addenda, e.g. SPARC
  • Creative Commons licences

Remember, as the copyright owner, you have the right to publish the work; print the work and make multiple copies of the work to distribute to your colleagues; post the work online on your personal website or in a repository; make an adaptation of the work and perform the work.

Once you assign copyright, you have given up all of your rights in that work.

The next post will look at the different types of licences to consider.

Griffith University will be supporting Open Access Week 22-28 October, 2012.