University of Texas at Arlington

Scholarly Communication

News blog

Your Work, Your Rights: Retain Your Copyright

by Jody Bailey October 2, 2017
  • A doctoral student wants to reuse a journal article she published a few months ago in her forthcoming article-based dissertation.
  • A history faculty member wants to distribute an article he wrote to all his students. 
  • A sociology scholar creates an amazing infographic and publishes it as part of a journal article then later decides to reuse it in a book.
  • An animal behavior researcher creates a series of photographs of an experiment that tests the cognitive capacity of capuchin monkeys and publishes these photos to illustrate the research in a scholarly journal; her colleague wants to use one of the photos on a website. 

What do all these people have in common? If they weren't careful with how they published their original work, they may not be able to do any of the things they want to do with it because many scholarly journal publishers require authors to transfer their copyright to the publisher. In other words, the people who create the work and own the copyright -- the same people who are willing to allow what is often a for-profit entity (i.e., the publisher) to make money off their intellectual property -- are required to relinquish all claims of ownership of that intellectual property in order for it to be published. What does this transfer of copyright mean? The publisher now controls all five exclusive rights that are part of copyright: 

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

Thus the original creator of the work now has to seek permission from the publisher for reuse or distribution of what was once her or his work. 

3D broken copyright symbol
Image by Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0,

At the University of Texas at Arlington, thousands of talented people (students, staff, and faculty) are creating works of scholarship that have the capacity to change the world by shedding current light on age-old philosophical conundrums, by charting new paths forward in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers, by revolutionizing understanding of historical events, and so much more. We want these creative works of scholarship to be known, seen, and shared by as many people as possible. To help attain this goal, the UTA Libraries and the Office of Graduate Studies are cosponsoring a workshop for graduate students in which you can learn how to retain part or all of your copyright when you publish your work in scholarly journals. Please see this page to register for the class "Copyright and Authors' Rights" taking place this Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 3-4PM in Central Library 315A. Questions? Contact Jody Bailey