Copyright & Author's Rights

Intellectual property is any form of knowledge or expression created with one’s intellect.

Copyright protects original artistic, literary, musical, or dramatic works, written materials and software, by preventing anyone from copying, publishing or broadcasting a work without the copyright owner’s permission.

Copyright exists as soon as the work is created and is often signaled by marking the work © (author’s name, year). Note: copyright does not protect ideas, but rather the expression of ideas.

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Copyright & Your Works

Before your article or book has been accepted by a journal or book publisher you own the copyright.

Copyright can be Transferred to a Third Party by the Author

In broad terms, for traditional monograph and scholarly article publishing models, the publisher will require the author to either grant or license the copyright to them on a temporary or perpetual basis in return for publication of the works and generation of subsequent revenues.

Two models transfer of copyright agreements are:

  • Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA)
  • Licence to Publish

This agreement may grant the publisher copyright to your work and might affect subsequent permitted uses and re-uses of your work.

You should ensure that the rights you need, both now and in the future to your works are retained.

Retain the Copyrights You Need

Once your final manuscript has been accepted for publication, the publisher will ask you to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) or a Licence to Publish.

This may grant the publisher copyright to your work and might affect how and when you can make your manuscript Open Access and subsequent permitted re-uses of your work.

Retain the Rights You Need

Scrutinize the publisher agreement before signing it and negotiate to retain the rights you need, including: the right to: 

An author who has transferred copyright without retaining these rights must ask permission unless the use is one of the statutory exemptions in copyright law. See Copyright & Fair Dealing for more information.

How to Easily Retain your Copy Rights

Most publishers are willing to discuss copyright agreements with authors to enable them to meet the terms of funders' open access policies and to retain other rights.  

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, in partnership with Creative Commons, has produced a Canadian Author Addendum. This is a free, legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your articles.

To retain valuable copyrights using the addendum:

  1. Complete the short addendum at: SPARC Canadian Author's Addendum to Publication Agreement
  2. Print and sign a copy of the addendum 
  3. Note in an email to your publisher the reasons why your have included an addendum to their standard agreement (specify any funders' requirements on timely open access deposit, as appropriate) 
  4. Forward this, along with a copy of the agreement to your publisher.

For more information, consult the CARL guide on Using the SPARC Canadian Author Addendum to Secure Your Rights as the Author of a Journal Article.

Future Uses of your Work - Creative Commons Licenses

The Creative Commons is a non-profit corporation that provides free licences for individuals who want to license their work in a way that allows for the work to be shared, remixed and/or used by others for either commercial or non-commercial purposes. 

Creative Commons Licenses enable you, the author, to specific the conditions of re-use of your works by others while, at the same time ensuring that you are credited for your work. They provide built-in copyright and last for the same duration as the copyright in the work. 

Creative Commons licences are used by all kinds of content creators including authors of academic books or journal articles, photographers, musicians, artists etc. Many monograph publishers do not yet offer a creative commons option for authors.

There are 6 licenses to choose from and all require attribution, signified by the ‘BY’ in each license name.

Creative Commons: Important Questions Answered! 

Source: Creative Commons Wiki: licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

About Creative Commons

Deciding to Apply a Creative Commons License

Important things to think about before you apply a Creative Commons license:

Considerations for licensors (authors / creators)

Considerations for licensees (end-users)

Adding a Creative Commons License to your Material

How do I Apply a Creative Commons License to my material?

How do I add a Creative Commons License to my document, slides etc?

It is important to add your preferred Creative Commons (CC) license to your document. This will mean that anyone viewing your thesis document via a Google search will clearly see the license terms you have assigned and permitted uses. 

a) Manually:  

  • Insert a copy of the appropriate CC icon from:
  • Add some text, e.g.: “This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License”
  • Insert a hyperlink from your licensing text  to the appropriate license.

b) Using the Creative Commons Add-in for Microsoft Office (Word / Excel / PowerPoint):

For Additional Information See:



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