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Copyright and Scholarship


Author Rights

Copyright and scholarly communication information for the Boston College community.

The Copyright Holder Controls the Work

Many publishers’ contracts restrict authors' subsequent usage of their published work in their teaching and research. For example, contracts often impede placing the published work

  • on course websites
  • in a course-pack
  • in scholarly presentations
  • on the author’s personal web page
  • and in such scholarly e-print repositories as BC's own eScholarship@BC.

In fact, after ceding copyright to the publisher, the author generally has little say in how the work is later used. The result, all too often, is that contracts restrict the dissemination of one’s scholarship and lessen one’s impact as an author.

Accordingly, authors should take care to assign the rights to their work in a manner that permits them and their colleagues to use the work freely, both in their teaching and research at BC. Transferring copyright doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Publishers require only the author’s permission to publish an article, not a wholesale transfer of copyright. So, a “compromise” is often desirable, for example by authors adding an appropriate "scholarship dissemination-friendly" addendum to their contracts. (See below.)

"Scholarship Dissemination-Friendly" Addendum

Below is an example of relevant addendum language:

Author’s Retention of Rights: Notwithstanding any terms in the Publication Agreement to the contrary, AUTHOR and PUBLISHER agree that in addition to any rights under copyright retained by Author in the Publication Agreement, Author retains: (i) the rights to reproduce, to distribute, to publicly perform, and to publicly display the Article in any medium for noncommercial purposes; (ii) the right to prepare derivative works from the Article; and (iii) the right to authorize others to make any non-commercial use of the Article so long as Author receives credit as author and the journal in which the Article has been published is cited as the source of first publication of the Article. For example, Author may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open-access digital repositories.

Or, generate an addendum that can be attached to a publisher's contract:

SPARC Author Rights Addendum

Author Rights Information


  • Use the Sherpa/RoMEO website to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.

  • Though it doesn’t include all publishers, the number listed is fairly large.
  • The entry for each publisher also lists conditions or restrictions imposed by the publisher which govern archiving rights or activities.

Use of the Guide

This guide is designed to provide basic, general information about copyright, and does not constitute legal advice. The links to third party sites in this guide are provided for your convenience. Boston College does not take responsibility for the content of these other sites. If you have a question about a specific copyright issue not addressed by this guide, the Libraries encourage you to seek further advice.

If you have questions about this guide or a basic copyright issue, contact, or the subject liaison for your department.

If you have a question about the University’s policies regarding copyright, please contact the Office of Technology Transfer and Licensing at 2-1682. If you have a question that requires the advice of an attorney, please contact the Office of the General Counsel at 2-0960.