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Library Notice


Author Rights : Why it is IMPORTANT?

Author Rights

As the author, you automatically have a basic set of copyrights when you create an original work and the work is 'fixed' in a tangible format, e.g. notes on paper, artworks, AV records, or a digital document on your computer. Those exclusive rights are to:

  • Make copies of the work
  • Distribute (publish) the work
  • Revise/adapt the work (create a movie from your book)
  • Publicly display the work
  • Publicly perform the work

You are the copyright holder, unless or until you transfer your rights to a publisher upon acceptance of publication of your work. When an article is accepted for publication, author would usually be asked to sign legally binding contracts e.g. Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA), that transfer most, or all your rights to the publisher as a condition of publication. Depending on the stipulated terms, this may imply:

  • the author lost the ownership of the copyright;
  • cannot legally distribute his/her works to support teaching and research.

Authors who sign away all rights can only utilize their work under the Fair Dealing or Fair Use exemption, which allow individuals to use or deal with reasonable portions of copyright works in a fair manner for education purpose.


Authors are encouraged to anticipate their future needs and to retain the rights to your scholarly works to optimize dissemination of their research. The followings are two major aspects of rights that author should negotiate with publishers to retain:

  • Reuse your works in teaching, future publications, and in all scholarly and professional activities
  • Self-Archiving your works on your personal website, in a discipline archive (e.g. SSRN, RePEc, PhilPapers), or in institutional repository (Digital Commons@ Lingnan)


How to Retain your Author Rights?

Publishers require only the author's permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. If you sign away your copyrights:

  • You lose your rights under copyright (with some fair dealing / fair use exceptions)
  • Current and future use of your work is completely controlled by new rights holder
  • Your institution may not enjoy expanded rights through permission

Things to do:

  1. Understand Publishers / Journals Policies (Copyright Transfer Agreements)
    Use SHERPA/RoMEo to search by journal title, publisher or ISSN to review the default copyright and self-archiving policies for publishers and journals. Determine the rights you may still hold to your work and/or your ability to post and share your article once published. (Individual authors may attempt to negotiate exceptions/changes to the standard policies)
  2. Use an Author Addendum to negotiate / retain your rights as author
    An author addendum is a legally-binding document used to modify the terms of a journal/publisher’s Copyright Transfer Agreement, resulted in retaining control of your work for purposes e.g. distributing copies in the course of teaching and research, posting the article on a personal website or institutional repository, etc.
    See "Author Addendum Tools", to work out an addendum that suits your need
  3. Publish in an Open Access (OA) Journal
    Most OA journals do not require you to transfer copyright. All contents are freely available to everyone while providing services common to all scholarly journals, such as the peer-review process, production, and distribution.
    Learn More About "Open Access"
  4. Self-Archiving
    If you have retained sufficient rights, you can post your article in Lingnan Scholars, the integrated Research Information Management System of the University. It can increase the visibility your work, maximizing impact, facilitates interdisciplinary research, and provides regional and global communities with immediate and permanent access.
    Learn More About Lingnan Scholars


Author Addendum Tools

An addendum, in general, is an addition required to be made to a document by its author subsequent to its printing or publication. It is an agreement between you and your publisher that allows you to retain non-exclusive, specific rights for professional use, but also allows the publisher to continue to publish and exercise similar rights for distribution and copies. Sample rights that were requested in the addendum as follows:

  • To include articles in course packs;
  • To place articles on a personal website, public archives or institutional repository
  • To distribute articles to students or other researchers
  • To include sections of article in later work
  • To retain ownership of the copyright but grant a non-exclusive license to the publisher, typically for the right of first formal publication.

Here are some helpful tools on Author Addendum:

  • Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine
    Help generating a PDF form that you can attach to a journal publisher's copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights.
  • SPARC Author Addendum
    Enter basic information about your article and generate a printable addendum to your publishing agreement in one easy step. Produced by Science Commons, the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine features an updated version of the SPARC Author Addendum.
  • Author Addenda
    Directory of author addenda samples prepared by higher institutes or professional groups.


More about Author Rights

Learn more about Author Right in 2 Mins with this video produced by the Institute on Scholarly Communication in association with SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), explains how researchers can maximize exposure and dissemination for their peer-reviewed article manuscripts.

Access Author's Rights brochure from SPARC