Seven Points to Understand About Copyright
- U.S. copyright law establishes the exclusive rights of authors and other creators of original works.
- Copyright is a bundle of rights. They can be transferred in their entirety by the author to a third party, such as a publisher, or the author can transfer only narrowly-tailored (e.g. non-exclusive) rights, or can instead license a third party to make specific uses of the work.
- You do not have to surrender your copyrights when you publish, though it is traditional in academic publishing that publishers require the transfer of all copyrights as a condition of publication. They sometimes, but not always, then transfer certain rights back, such as the right to use the work in your classroom.
- The transfer of copyrights to the publisher can lead to unintended consequences For example, a course instructor may be unable to make copies of her own work to distribute to her students or colleagues without permission of the publisher/copyright owner.
- The transfer of copyrights to the publisher also confers enormous market power on the publisher, as the exclusive owner of the rights to the scholar’s work. This can be problematic when the interests and incentives of the publisher (e.g. profit and market share) diverge from the interests of the scholars and the University (e.g. the widest possible dissemination of the work).
- By academic tradition and University of California policy, for most works created by faculty in the course of their teaching and research, copyrights belong to the faculty author. See the UC policy on copyright ownership and the policy on ownership of course materials.
- It therefore falls to the faculty as individuals to manage the copyrights of their scholarly works in ways that foster academic goals.
For more in-depth information:
- UC copyright: A resource for the University of California community
- Association of Research Libraries, Authors and Their Rights
- Columbia University Libraries’ Copyright Advisory Service: Copyright Ownership
- University of Maryland University College, Center for Intellectual Property: Ownership Issues