Skip to Main Content

Copyright Basics

Chester Fritz Library resources for copyright

Author Rights Overview

Having an manuscript accepted for publication is an exciting moment. Your work will be available to the world! However many publishers' standard publishing contracts (often called a 'Copyright Transfer Agreement') will request you sign away all or most of your rights to the publisher. Unless addressed in the transfer agreement, you may be forbidden by the publisher to do the following:

  • Post the work to your own web site or to a disciplinary online archive
  • Copy the work for distribution to students
  • Use the work as the basis for future articles or other works
  • Give permission for the work to be used in a course at UND
  • Grant permission to faculty and students at other universities to use the material

Fear not! You do not have to sign the first contract presented to you. Before signing a contract think carefully about which rights you wish to retain and what the publisher actually needs to publish your book or article for the first time. Knowing what your rights are and what you may wish to do with your work in the future will help you figure out the best way to protect your rights while publishing your work. Questions you might want to consider are:

Source: Cornell University Libraries. Copyright Management. 2009.

Finding Publishers' Policies on Copyright

​SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publishers' policies on copyright and self-archiving. If a copyright transfer agreement takes away your author's rights, you can change the agreement or add the SPARC Author Addendum. The publisher may accept your changes, revise them, or deny them.