What is copyright?
Copyright is the exclusive right of the maker of a piece of work (science or art) to publish and reproduce this work. A piece of work comes into existence at the moment it is created. Read on..

In a short video (2:36) Prof. Dirk Visser, professor Intellectual Property Law (Leiden University) and Prof. Martijn Katan, emeritus professor Nutrition and Health (VU University Amsterdam) explain that authors have authority over their copyright:

Author rights, your rights

Copyright protects the maker of an original work. But it does not interfere with access to scientific information. By publishing in open access, authors implicitly give permission for further distribution and reuse of their research findings.

Control your copyright
If you publish in an open access journal, you automatically keep your copyright. You do not have to settle anything, for there is no publisher to whom you've relinquished your copyright.
If you want to publish in a traditional scientific journal, do not transfer your copyright to the publisher lest you loose all control over your publication. Keep at least the right to deposit a copy of your publication in a repository.
Publishers allow more than you may think. Scientific publications up to 1997 may be uploaded to a repository; more than 60% of the publishers allow post-prints to be uploaded to a repository and ca. 25% the publishers’ PDF.

What you can do?

Tools to publish your article in a repository

LicenceIf you wish to publish in a traditional journal, you can use a Licence to publish and send it to the publisher. This gives the publisher the right to publish your article, but you retain the right to duplicate the publication or to reuse or upload it in the institutional repository (VU-DARE), provided that a link is inserted to the article on the publisher’s website.
Author addendumYou can retain certain rights to use your article by adding an author addendum to the publishing agreement sent to you by the publisher. An author addendum is a standardised legal instrument that modifies the publisher’s agreement and allows you to keep key rights to your article.
For record keeping purposes, the author requests that the publisher signs a copy of this addendum and returns it to the author. However, if the publisher publishes the article without his signature, such publication manifests the publisher's assent to the terms of this addendum.

The author addendum is a free resource developed by several organisations: For more examples see the addenda in the SURF copyright toolbox.
Sample wordingIf you want to make amendments to the publisher's agreement, you can make use of the sample wording in the SURF copyright toolbox.
SHERPA/RoMEOIf you want to find out whether your publisher permits publication in VU-DARE, check the SHERPA/RoMEO website, which provides an overview of ca. 1300 publishers' copyright policies.
TipFrequently asked questions about copyright and repositories can be found on the SURF website Copyright in Higher Education.
© Copyright VU University Amsterdam
Help yourselfLibrary video