Authors have exclusive and immediate ownership over any work that they produce. When a work is co-authored, all authors are co-owners of copyright in the work. When a work is made for hire, the work is owned by the employer. Details on the ownership of work is defined in the U.S. copyright law, which is title 17 of the United States Code.
Authors rights include the ability to:
Fair Use allows the use of copyrighted work by others. Fair use is determined by the following factors:
Rights are important for authors to retain. They guarantee that authors' works can be reused by the author in any capacity without permission from the publisher.
Also, many funding organizations require that their grant recipients submit an electronic copy of their research works for deposit into an openly accessible repository determined by the funding organization. To comply with this type of mandate, authors must secure the right to reuse the work for this purpose.
Authors may negotiate which rights they retain. One option for doing this is to attach an addendum to the publishing agreement. In legal documents such as a publishing contract an addendum is an additional document that specifies provisions to the main contract.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources (SPARC) coalition provides an example of an addendum on its website that can be used by any author wishing to modify their publishing contracts. Some funding organizations may have a unique addendum for authors' use.
Another option authors have for specifying how work may be reused is through a license. Some publishers offer their own license. Another option is a Creative Commons license. It does not replace copyright but rather replaces specific rights between the copyright owner and user. There are six license options. Once selected, the license is sent to the author by Creative Commons in HTML and can be added to the copyright owners website or hosting service if the service has incorporated Creative Commons.
Author may choose to transfer copyrights and negotiate to reserve specified rights or retain copyright and transfer limited rights to the publisher.
Transfer Copyrights But Reserve Some Rights
Keep Copyrights and Transfer Limited Rights to the Publisher
Authors could replace the original exclusive transfer rights language and with their own preferred language or something similar to the following:
“The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive license for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media. The Publisher shall include a notice in the Work saying "© [Author's Name]. Readers of this article may copy it without the copyright owner's permission, if the author and publisher are acknowledged in the copy and copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes.”
An addendum or license such as that provided by Creative Commons would be an alternative way to keep copyright yet transfer limited rights.