Copyright Information

Copyright issues have to be dealt with whilst making, publishing and (re)using an article, paper, book or research material. What does your copyright entail and what does this mean for an author or for a user of scientific publications?

On this page you can find information on copyright issues concerning Wageningen UR

The copyright basics authors should be familiar with

Copyright is intended to protect you, the author of the work and to stimulate the distribution of your work. What is copyright?

Historically, publishers have taken on the part of the copyright dealing with exploitation (publishing and multiplying the work), because of this eventually they started claiming the exploitation rights completely and exclusively. In contracts the author had to exclusively transfer these rights to the publisher. Due to developments in the scholarly community (developments such as the internet and the Open Access movement) many publishers no longer claim the exploitation rights exclusively, but they agree to merely execute these rights on behalf of the author. This agreement is usually reached in a non-exclusive licence.

Publishers can still do whatever they want with such a non-exclusive licence, but ordinarily they do enforce an embargo period before other use can be made of the publication. During this period the author cannot multiply and/or make his work public in any other way, such as submitting it to a institutional repository. This is the period in which the publisher can earn back money from his investment (coordination of peer review / editors / distribution / promotion)

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What authors can do

Remain in charge of your copyright by using the tools on this page.

What you can do to retain your copyright:

The SURF foundation has created a Copyright Toolbox to assist authors and publishers to achieve a balance between granting maximum access to a journal article and financial compensation for the publication by the publisher of this article. Several organisations in different countries have formulated a number of licences for authors. These licences help you to retain your copyright and because of this you will be able to make your work available online. The licences found below can be used when you are negotiating an agreement with your publisher.

The licences and documents on this page are:

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Publishers and Open Access

Open access to scientific papers is a development that is gaining an increasing following all over the world. Information on Open Access

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Frequently asked questions on copyrights

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I have signed a contract with my publisher agreeing that they can publish my article. Can I submit this article to the Wageningen UR Repository?

No, probably not, but you are free to request permission to do so anyway from your publisher. We expect that most publishers will grant this permission, especially for the less recent publications.

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I have not signed a contract with my publisher enabling them to publish my article. Can I submit this article to the Wageningen UR Repository?

Yes, because you still own the copyright.

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What arrangements does one make with a publisher?

You can make an oral or written agreement with a publisher regarding publication of your work.
*  When you enter into an oral agreement, you generally only give permission for your article to be placed in the relevant number of the periodical concerned. Otherwise, you can decide for yourself what you want to do with the article; there is no question of a transfer of copyright (this can only be transferred by means of a written contract). In some cases, the publishing information printed in the periodical indicates what you have in fact given permission for, but this has absolutely no legal value. For publications other than articles, a written agreement is generally concluded.
* Various situations are possible where a written agreement is concerned:

(Thanks to SURF.)
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Will a publisher still publish my article if it is already available online as a preprint?

Very few publishers will object to the publication of an article that has already been submitted (preprint). In general, you will be able to preprint it without any problem.
(Thanks to SURF.)

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I have written this article with a co-author - who owns the copyright?

Most likely you will have shared copyright and therefore you will have to ask permission from your co-author(s) for everything you want to do with your material. You do not have to consider your co-author(s) when:

If the publication is a collective, inseparable work, where the different contributions can no longer be distinguished, you will always need permission from all the creators to use the publication for any specific use.
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Can I make changes to my publisher's standard contract?

A contract sets out the arrangements agreed on by two parties. Publishers generally have a standard contract for publishing your material, but this does not mean that no changes can be made to that contract. You should clearly specify what changes you want and ask the publisher to incorporate them into the contract. This will often involve some negotiation but you are certainly not obliged to simply sign a standard contract. More information on this topic can be found in the JISC - SURF Copyright Toolbox.

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Publisher copyright policies & self-archiving

The Eprints movement is calling upon authors to consider carefully what rights they assign to publishers if they want to go on and self-archive a copy of their work in their local Institutional Repository (WaY). Project ROMEO and Sherpa have compiled a list of existing journal publisher copyright transfer agreements. For your convenience the list shown below indicates the copyright policies of a large amount of publishers. If available, a hyperlink to the author guidelines per publisher is also included. Sometimes publication is only allowed for a pre- or post-print version of the article, this is indicated in the list. As publishers policies rapidly change we advise to check the author guidelines regularly.

Search publishers copyright policies

Use this form to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.


Enter one or more keywords from the publisher's name or journal title



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List available publishers copyright policies

View all publishers shows an extensive list of publishers and ther copyright policies. If a publisher is not listed here you may wish to recommend to include it.

These summaries are for the publishers default policies and changes or exceptions can often be negotiated by authors.

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Definitions used: Pre-print and Post-print

This listing characterises pre-prints as being the version of the paper before peer review and post-prints as being the version of the paper after peer-review, with revisions having been made.

This means that in terms of content, post-prints are the article as published. However, in terms of appearance this might not be the same as the published article, as publishers often reserve for themselves their own arrangement of type-setting and formatting. Typically, this means that the author cannot use the publisher-generated .pdf file, but must make their own .pdf version for submission to a repository.

This listing tries to separate out the differing definitions and conditions implied by the use of the terms within each publisher's copyright transfer agreement and categorises the permissions and conditions accordingly. All information is correct to the best of our knowledge but should not be relied upon for legal advice.

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mail icon Wageningen Digital Library, 14 August, 2008