Author addenda and licences

Over the last couple of years a number of author addenda and licences have been developed. Addenda usually spell out the rights of the author after passing an article to a publisher for publication. Copyright is a bundle of rights, whatever the jurisdiction that pertains, and authors can transfer some rights to the publisher whilst retaining others for themselves. For example, authors may retain the right to reproduce, distribute, display and perform their own work in respect of either their research or their teaching work. Many addenda restrict the author to use the work for non-commercial purposes and may have other, additional restrictions imposed upon the author. Another raft of restrictions may be imposed upon the publisher and in the case of institutionally-developed agreements, there is usually provision for the institution itself to hold some rights to use the work as well.

MIT developed an author addendum for its researchers during 2006. Following this, one of the most significant developments at institutional level was the addendum drawn up in June 2007 by the Committee for Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of 12 research universities (the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison).The CIC asked its member institutions to adopt the addendum. Three (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Wisconsin at Madison and the University of Minnesota) adopted it immediately. Others have followed since.

Other addenda or agreements have been drawn up by individual universities or research institutions. Institutional policies on copyright are increasing as Open Access becomes mainstream and universities seek to protect future research outputs from falling under publisher ownership. The University of Texas, for example, declares in its copyright management guidelines that its researchers must manage copyright in their articles for the benefit of "the authors, the citizens of Texas, state government, the component institutions, and the U. T. System".

Outside institutional boundaries, two widely-used author addenda are from SPARC/Science Commons and from SURF/JISC.

SPARC and Science Commons have provided a tool called the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine. This provides authors with a choice of addenda, including SPARC's own Author's Addendum. It is available through the SPARC and Science Commons websites and from the MIT and Carnegie Mellon University websites. MIT has contributed its own MIT Copyright Agreement Amendment as one of the choices available through the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine.

The SURF/JISC Copyright Toolbox incorporates a licence to publish that authors can assign to publishers whilst retaining a bundle of rights for themselves over the use of their own work, plus sample wordings that can be used if an author or publisher wishes to amend the standard publishing agreement in the licence.

Further resources

A growing list of addenda for authors to use, including links to addenda drawn up by specific universities, is here.

A list of issues in publisher copyright transfer agreements that should receive attention from authors and institutions has been prepared by the Scholarly Communication Initiative at Washington University School of Medicine, St.Louis, Missouri.

A detailed account of types of addenda and their implications is given in an article by Peter Hirtle of Cornell University Library. Although a little dated in the light of fast-moving developments since it was published in 2006, this article does give a thorough treatment of the issues that institutions need to consider when drawing up an author addendum.