Authors Rights and Copyright

In today’s complicated world of scholarly publishing it’s important that all authors understand the rights they have and how they can preserve them to ensure they can freely distribute their works.


What is Copyright?

All authors need to be aware that Copyright is composed of a number of rights which work together.

These rights include

  1. the right to reproduce the work
  2. the right to prepare derivative works based on the original
  3. the right to distribute copies to the public
  4. the right to perform the work publicly
  5. the right to display the work publicly



Your Authors Rights and Publishing

When publishing a scholarly work, either a book or a journal article, it is not necessary to sign away all of your rights as an author to a publisher.

Traditionally Publishers want ALL of the author copyright transferred to them however they DO NOT need all of the rights

As an author you are allowed to license the specific rights to publishers that are necessary them to publish your book or journal article.

To learn more about Author Copyright and how to unbundle your rights for publication you can view the Copyright and author rights Powerpoint presentation on the ACRL website. This provides a brief overview of their rights as authors.

To learn about how to negotiate with publishers to preserve your rights go to the SPARC's Author Addenda site. This provides examples and guidance on how to use an author addendum to preserve your rights when negotiating with a publisher.


Publishers policies regarding copyright

Below are examples of publisher policies from some top journals that CSHL authors commonly publish in

For a more extensive list of publisher policies please see the publisher policies page in our Author Rights and Copyright libguide


Nature: NPG does not require authors of original (primary) research papers to assign copyright of their published contributions. Authors grant NPG an exclusive licence to publish, in return for which they can reuse their papers in their future printed work without first requiring permission from the publisher of the journal.

For more information go to

Cell: Authors transfer copyright to Elsevier as part of a journal publishing agreement if not electing to pay an open access publishing fee, but have the right to:

  1. Share their article for Personal Use, Internal Institutional Use and Scholarly Sharing purposes, with a DOI link to the version of record on ScienceDirect (and with the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC- ND license for author manuscript versions)
  2. Retain patent, trademark and other intellectual property rights (including raw research data).
  3. Proper attribution and credit for the published work.

For more information go to

Science: Science requires that, before manuscript acceptance, authors sign a license agreement granting AAAS exclusive rights to use and authorize use of their contribution. The authors retain copyright as well as rights to make certain uses of the work.

For more information go to

PNAS: As a PNAS author, you and your employing institution or company retain extensive rights for use of your materials and intellectual property. You retain these rights and permissions without having to obtain explicit permission from PNAS, provided that you cite the original source.

For more information go to

Genes and Development: Authors of articles published by CSHL Press retain copyright on their articles (except for US Government employees) but grant Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press exclusive right to publish the articles. This grant of rights lasts for six months following full-issue publication for all non-Open Access articles and includes the rights to publish, reproduce, distribute, display, and store the article in all formats; to translate the article into other languages; to create adaptations, summaries, extracts, or derivations of the article; and to license others to do any or all of the above. Authors of articles can reuse their articles in their work as long as the journal is credited as the place of original publication.

For more information go to

Journal of Neuroscience: Copyright of all material published in The Journal of Neuroscience remains with the authors. The authors grant the Society for Neuroscience an exclusive license to publish their work for the first 6 months. After 6 months the work becomes available to the public to copy, distribute, or display under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.

For more information go to

PLoS: PLOS applies the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to works we publish. This license was developed to facilitate open access – namely, free immediate access to, and unrestricted reuse of, original works of all types. Under this license, authors agree to make articles legally available for reuse, without permission or fees, for virtually any purpose. Anyone may copy, distribute or reuse these articles, as long as the author and original source are properly cited.

For more information or information about journals not listed here you can contact the Library via our webchat, Library Help email, by phone or in person at the Library.