Copyright Resources for Authors

Who owns the copyright to my research?
According to copyright law, Title 17 of the United States Code, Circular 92, Chapter 1, Section 102(a), a work is protected by copyright once it is fixed in a tangible medium. The creator of the work owns copyright unless they sign a license granting certain rights to an individual or organization. For more information on licenses, see SPARC's Introduction to Copyright Resources.

Can I archive my research articles on my personal website or in a digital repository?
That depends on the version of the work, the copyright policies of your publisher, and any rights you retained negotiating with publishers. Some publishers allow authors to retain rights to deposit pre-prints (author's manuscript prior to peer-review) and/or post-prints (author's final peer-reviewed manuscript), but have conditions governing acceptable repositories or websites for archiving, how soon archiving is allowed after first publication, and how the resources should be cited. It's a good idea to read through your signed copyright agreement to determine the best course of action to take. We also recommend visiting the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publishers' policies on self-archiving. Each publisher's record includes their policy on archiving pre-prints, post-prints, and publisher formatted PDFs. Most records in SHERPA/RoMEO also link out to the copyright agreement on the publisher's website.

If you negotiated with a publisher to retain rights to post your articles on a personal website or in a repository, then you should check the terms of your amended agreement to determine whether you can post the version of the work in question. If the publisher's agreement allows archiving in an institutional repository, consider depositing in SMARTech, Georgia Tech's institutional repository. Link from your website to the article in this trusted, preservation repository, rather than pointing to files on a personal computer or local web server. Please contact us if you would like to begin depositing in SMARTech.

How do I retain rights when working with publishers?
Start by learning more about your publisher's copyright policy. Do they allow you to reuse your work, to deposit in an online repository, or to share your research with colleagues? If you determine you'd like to retain more rights than those granted in your publisher's copyright transfer agreement, then you have the option of negotiating with your publisher. Consider amending the agreement. Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) recommends the SPARC Author Addendum, which helps authors retain important rights to archive and reuse their work for educational purposes. Other addendums are available for download at the Science Common's Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine website.

Does the library assist scholars with authors' rights questions? Do you answer questions related to public access policies, such as the NIH Public Access Policy?
The library serves as a resource on this issue. Faculty members with questions regarding managing their copyrights are encouraged to contact the library. For questions regarding retaining rights to comply with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy, please contact us.

How can I share my research online?
You can share your research materials in SMARTech, Georgia Tech's institutional repository service. Through this repository service, the library collects, organizes, disseminates, and preserves the intellectual output of Georgia Tech. Authors depositing in SMARTech retain copyright to their research materials, and grant Georgia Tech a non-exclusive license to distribute and preserve the materials for educational purposes. If you would like to begin depositing in SMARTech, please contact us.