Managing your copyright

When dealing with publishing agreements, it is essential that you read the document carefully and understand the implications of the wording. If necessary, consult the QUT University Copyright Officer for advice. Remember that the terms of any contract should be acceptable to both parties. Therefore, if the publication agreement does not explicitly permit you to retain the rights you wish to retain (or are obliged to retain), then you should seek to modify the terms.

This can be a daunting prospect for an individual author. Fortunately, many universities are now providing authors with the support they need to negotiate acceptable terms. At QUT, this support takes the form of policies relating to open access and paperwork to simplify the process of amending agreements.

The University's Repository Policy (MOPP F/1.3 QUT ePrints repository for research output) requires that QUT staff and postgraduate students upload the 'accepted manuscript' version of their peer-reviewed journal articles and peer-reviewed conference papers to the University's institutional repository, QUT ePrints.

The Repository Policy is backed up by the University's Intellectual Property Policy (MOPP D/3.1.5 Intellectual property: Copyright in scholarly works), which specifies that any assignment of copyright in scholarly works authored by staff is subject to the University retaining a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive right to use that work for teaching, for research and to disseminate a version of the work online (for non-commercial purposes) via QUT' ePrints no later than 12 months after the publication date.

Consequently, QUT staff members and postgraduate students should not sign a publishing agreement if the terms are not compatible with the University's IP policy and Repository Policy.

Strategies for managing your copyright

Step 1 - Read the publishing contract, especially the 'retained rights' section

Many journal publishers allow authors to retain the right to disseminate an open access copy of a version of the work. In some cases, this retained right is limited to a specific version (e.g. the final accepted manuscript version) and there may be an embargo period required before the version can be placed in open access.

If the publishing agreement allows authors to disseminate a copy of the article via a repository or web page immediately or within 12 months then the contract can be signed and the article uploaded to QUT ePrints.

If the publishing agreement terms are incompatible with the QUT policies then go to the next step.

Step 2 - Try to amend the terms of the publishing agreement

It is sometimes possible to amend the terms of a publishing agreement by attaching an addendum to the contract before sending it back to the publisher. A copy of the QUT addendum (plus a covering letter explaining why it has been attached) can be downloaded from the links page.