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Copyright & Fair Use

Resources about copyright and fair use.

Author Rights

Remember: under federal law, as an author or creator, copyrights are attached to certain types of intellectual property.  Since 1992, copyrights are granted at the time of the work's creation when "the fruit of mental labor", the ideas, are fixed in some sort of medium and in a tangible form of expression of ideas. Therefore, unless you wish to formally register a copyright, authors/creators do not have to apply for or file a copyright.

Reasons to care about your author rights (From Cornell University Library):

A complete transfer of copyright can have the following negative implications:

  • Transferring distribution rights may prohibit an author from publishing the work in a repository or other source as required by the terms of a funding agreement;
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work with their students, colleagues, or professional organization;
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work in their institutional repository or website, in some cases triggering receipt of a take-down notice;
  • Transferring the right to make derivative works may prohibit an author from creating follow-up or related works based on their own research;

Bottom line: 

  • Transferring all copyrights means authors no longer own their work or the right to control where or how it appears; and
  • Transferring all copyrights may result in a publisher reusing an author's works without permission or notice.

Columbia Law School: Keep Your Copyrights

Columbia Law School: About contracts

Understanding Publisher Methods (Cornell University Library)

Benefits of copyright registration


"Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law."

Scholarly Communication

The issue of Scholarly Communication is a growing and overall complex field.  Such complexity is in response to changes within the economics of traditional vehicles of academic publishing.

An important aspect concerns author's right-rights such as "the options for publishing, posting, archiving and distributing their scholarship" (from ACRL).

     Sponsored by Stanford Copyright & Fair Use, this interview from 2011 discussing negotiating author rights, remains relevant.

Below are sites for scholarly communication:

Milner Library-Scholarly Communication

University of Texas Libraries at Austin-Scholarly Communication

Northwestern University-Scholarly Communication

American Library Association-ACRL Scholarly Communication Toolkit