Copyright and publishing
Protecting your copyright
In Australia, as soon as a work is produced in a material form (e.g. written down or filmed), it is automatically protected by copyright. You do not need to register your copyright, nor do you need to affix a copyright symbol (©), in order to benefit from copyright protection.
It is advisable, however, to include a copyright statement on your work to notify others of the copyright owner and to advise of any reuse conditions. There is no set wording for a copyright statement; it can be as simple as the copyright symbol (a lower case ‘c’ in a circle) followed by the copyright owner’s name and the year the work was produced – for example, © John Smith 2022, or © University of Western Australia 2022.
For more information on protecting your copyright, see the Australian Copyright Council Protecting Your Copyright fact sheet.
- 1. Check the publisher's policy on self-archiving
While journal publishers usually ask authors to assign copyright to them, many now also allow self-archiving of the final accepted manuscript version in an institutional repository. Other publishers may grant permission if a request is made to them. It’s advisable to check the publisher's policy on self-archiving before submitting your article for peer review.
You may see the terms ‘preprint’, which refers to the draft version submitted by the author to the publisher, and ‘post-print’ or ‘Authors Accepted Manuscript’, which refers to the final accepted version.
Information on self-archiving may be on the journal's website. Look for links called ‘Notes to contributors’ or ‘Information for authors’. The information is also usually in the publishing contract. Read it carefully before signing. Here is an example of what to look for:
The author(s)… shall have the following rights:
The right to post and update the Article on free-access e-print servers as long as files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that purpose. Any such posting made or updated after acceptance of the Article for publication shall include a link to the online abstract in the APS journal or to the entry page of the journal. If the author wishes the APS-prepared version to be used for an online posting other than on the author(s)’ or employer’s website, APS permission is required; if permission is granted, APS will provide the Article as it was published in the journal, and use will be subject to APS terms and conditions. (excerpt from the American Physical Society's Transfer of Copyright Agreement).
The SHERPA/RoMEO website provides a list of publisher policies:
- Publishers in GREEN support self-archiving of both the pre-print and post-print versions.
- Publishers in YELLOW or BLUE may support some archiving rights, and changes or exceptions can often be negotiated by authors. A link to the relevant publisher information is generally provided, and should be checked.
Note: this information is not legally binding in Australia – your specific publisher agreement may be different.
If the publisher allows authors to retain the right to self-archive, or if assignment of copyright is not required, there is no need to go on to the next step; you can immediately deposit a copy of your paper in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository. Refer to the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for more information about making your publications available in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository.
- 2. Amend the publication agreement to deposit the final accepted manuscript version
If the publisher does not allow authors to self-archive the final accepted manuscript version, you could take one of two approaches:
a) Best strategy: Amend the publishing agreement to reserve some rights
If the existing agreement does not specifically grant authors the right to self-archive a copy of the final accepted version, it may be possible to cross out the relevant section of the existing agreement and insert a statement about the rights you wish to retain.
The UWA Research Integrity Policy states:
“Researchers will…avoid transferring copyright to the publisher and ensure publication contracts allow self-archiving of the Author's accepted manuscript in the UWA Profile and Research Repository. If self-archiving is not included in the publisher contract, then University Authors will request inclusion of the following addendum —
The Author has the right to publicly archive their revised, peer reviewed personal version of their paper in their institutional repository, provided a link to the version on the publisher website is included."Contact the publisher or journal editor to let them know what you are doing and why. If you amend the agreement you need to ensure that the publisher/journal editor acknowledges – and agrees to – the amendments in order for them to be valid.
b) Alternative strategy: Retain your copyright and grant the publisher a ‘licence to publish’
You can choose to retain ownership of the copyright and grant the publisher an exclusive licence for the first formal publication of the work (in print, digital, or some other form).
Researchers who are employed by the US Government routinely use this strategy. They cannot assign copyright to publishers because the government retains the copyright. It is worth noting that the publishers continue to publish articles authored by these researchers.
In addition to this you could grant the publisher a non-exclusive licence for at least the following purposes:
- subsequent republication of the work
- reproduction for teaching purposes
- reformatted publication (such as works transferred from print to microform and digital forms)
- distribution through document delivery services
- public performance and display of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works
By granting non-exclusive rights to the publisher, the author retains the right to do any of these things without needing publisher permission.
Cross out and replace the original exclusive transfer language with text such as the following:
The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive licence for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media.
If you amend the agreement you need to ensure that the publisher/journal editor acknowledges – and agrees to – the amendments in order for them to be valid. The SPARC Author Rights webpage provides more guidance on this.
- 3. Make the publication metadata available in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository
Some publishers are very protective of what they perceive as their long-term interests (including financial interests) and will not allow any flexibility or rights to authors seeking to use institutional repositories.
UWA authors can still add their publication details (metadata) to the UWA Profiles and Research Repository, along with a link to the final published version. See the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for more information.
Information on this page has been adapted with permission from Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania Copyright Toolkit for Researchers (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA licence).
This information is provided as general information only and is not intended to be comprehensive.