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Copyright & Author Rights

Copyright for Authors

quill penCopyright gives authors and creators the power to allow or prohibit certain uses of their work. "The main goals of copyright are to encourage the development of culture, science and innovation, while providing a financial benefit to copyright holders for their works, and to facilitate access to knowledge and entertainment for the public." (Copyright Clearance Center)

Some copyright basics for authors:

  • Copyright protection is granted automatically once a work is fixed in a format (eg, on paper or computer). It covers both published and unpublished works.
  • Copyright does not protect ideas or facts.
  • Registration, while beneficial in some cases, is not necessary.
  • Works no longer require a copyright notice.
  • For the most part, ODU authors retain the copyright to their works. (ODU Policy on Intellectual Property)
  • Joint authors hold equal and full copyright in the work

As a copyright owner, some of your rights are to:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • Distribute copies to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease, or lending
  • Perform or display the work publicly
  • Authorize others to exercise these exclusive rights, subject to certain statutory limitations.

Copyright and Publishing Agreements

If you transfer your copyright to a publisher, you have basically given up your rights as the copyright owner. If you wish to reproduce the work or prepare derivative works from it, you will need to seek permission from the publisher.

It's important to note that it is not a requirement of publication that rights be assigned or transferred permanently to a publisher. See AUTHOR RIGHTS tab.

"It is exceptionally rare for a scientific publisher to use copyright law to defend the integrity of a scientific paper on behalf of an author. In fact BioMed Central knows of no situation where this has happened...

Meanwhile, the real reason for copyright transfer is clear. Publishers regularly use copyright law to protect  the profits they derive by controlling access to the literature."

BioMed Central


Image: By Joan M. Borràs (ebrenc), CC BY-SA 2.5

Copyright for Graduate Student Authors

Copyright Law & Graduate Research (Proquest) -- Includes information about your rights as an author when publishing your dissertation or thesis.

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