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Copyright, Fair Use and Plagiarism: Publishing Support

Resources explaining and giving samples of intellectual property issues, including the TEACH ACT

Author Rights

Know Your Rights!

‘Author’s rights’ concerns the ability of the author of a work to transfer or retain (full or partial) rights that influence how their work is disseminated. Many publishers' agreements ask Authors to surrender their rights in order to have their work published. Depending on your agreement, you may not be able to publish your scholarly research anywhere else, re-use portions of your articles, or even use your work in your own classes. 

What Are Author Rights? 

The term 'Author Rights' and 'Literary Rights' are often used to refer to copyrights. Copyrights are legal rights that relate to certain types of intellectual property. Federal Law grants authors of creative works at the time of a work's creation. Remember - Authors do not have to apply for or file for copyright. 


Copyright Law Section 106 

"Exclusive rights in copyrights works"

  • To reproduce the copyrighted work in copies 
    • this allows authors to make physical and digital copies
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work 
    • this allows the author to write an article based on the work, a book chapter, or a new book that builds on the original research
  • To distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental/lease/lending 
    • this allowed the author to make physical or digital copies that can be distributed to colleagues, students, and conferences
  • In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly
    • this allows authors to perform their works in classrooms, conferences and in public
  • In the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, motion pictures, pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly
    • this allows authors, performs or creators to show their work in exhibits, show their work in a classroom or the public setting
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission
    • those who work with sound recordings, this allows you to digitally transmit your work 

To view Section 106 -

What are exclusive rights?

Copyright law states that only a copyright owner may engage in the six aforementioned rights. However, because knowledge and society would fail to progress if only a copyright owner could engage with copyrighted works, there are two ways in which others are legally permitted to use copyrighted works. These are referred to as copyright limitations.

Copyright limitations

Copyright is limited in two ways: statutorily and contractually.

Although there are several statutory limits, the two most commonly known among researchers and librarians are fair use (Section 107) and the libraries exception (Section 108). When a statutory limitation is applied, the copyright owner still owns the work and the copyright in it, but the law permits others to use the work under certain circumstances. When a copyright expires -- currently 70 years after the death of an author, although there are several nuances to this rule -- the work is no longer protected by copyright and the public can use the work in any way they desire. 

Contractual limitations arise when a copyright owner engages in a private agreement with another party that affects the ownership or use of the copyrighted work. The six exclusive rights discussed above are commonly referred to as a "bundle of rights" because copyright owners control each of the rights individually and as a group. When a copyright owner contracts with another party to permit use of their rights, the owner can give away one, some, none, or all of their rights. He or she can transfer or license the rights. He or she can enter into an exclusive or non-exclusive, irrevocable or revocable license. Because the flexibility to give away rights is so tailored-made, authors wield a lot of power in negotiating their authors rights agreements with publishers.


Care about your Author Rights!

The glamour of getting your work published in a scholarly journal is a dream come true for many, but when you naively sign away your copyrights to a publisher, you give them ALL copyrights. All Authors should read their publishing agreements thoroughly and carefully. 

Things to keep in mind

  • Transferring distribution rights may prohibit an author from publishing the work in a repository or other source as required by the terms of a funding agreement
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work with their students, colleagues, or professional organization
  • Transferring reproduction, distribution, public display, or public performance rights may prohibit an author from sharing their work in their institutional repository or website
  • Transferring the right to make derivative works may prohibit an author from creating follow-up or related works based on their own research
  • Transferring all copyrights means authors no longer own their work or the right to control where or how it appears
  • Transferring all copyrights may result in a publisher reusing an author's works without permission or notice.

Publisher Methods

Once you have your work and want to publish it, you should be aware of the numerous tactics used by publishers prior to submitting your work. 


Sherpa/RoMEO is a great resource and is a free database containing copyright and self-archiving policies for thousands of journals. You can search by ISSN, title, and publisher. It will also indicate various OA color schemas to indicate archiving polices. Sherpa/RoMEO gathers this information from publishers' sites. 

Homepage of SHERPA/RoMEO where you can search for Open Access journals by title and ISBN.

The journal Scientific America on SHERPA/RoMEO site. It shows the publisher and what form of the paper can be deposited to an institutional repository.

Publishing Support

Publishing Support or Scholarly Communications refers to the process by which scholars and researchers share and disseminate their scholarly work. Library staff work closely with faculty, staff and students to promote the amazing research that happens everyday at WilmU. New forms of scholarly communication have emerged often seeking to address existing challenges with traditional publishing models, while at the same time leveraging the advantages created by the digital environment.