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Author Rights and Publishing Contracts

Open Access and your publishing contract

As an author, you can actively support the promotion of the Open Access thought by dealing responsably with your copyright.

So, if possible, prefer Open Access journals for your publication!

If you publish in 'conventional' journals, retain the right of making your work available to the public free of charge (simple right of use). This should be agreed between you and your publisher in a written contract. In case the publishing house insists on a waiting period before you can make your work available to the public, this period may vary between 2 and 12 months.

We suggest the following amendments of your contract with a 'conventional' publisher:

Delete the word "exclusive" or similar expressions and add:

The author is entitled to make a PDf version of his/her work freely available on his/her personal website (free of charge), on an institutional server or a discipline-specific publication server once the publicaton has been published in print.
Date, signature

Or, alternatively:

I do not assign exclusive usage and exploitation rights to (name of the publishing house) but reserve the right to publish the article/my work/etc. in full online, i.e. on my personal website or on an Open Access platform, freely available and free of charge.
Date, signature

Science Commons provides the Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine for generating contract amendments.

If you wish to publish your work as a secondary publication on the Publication Server of Potsdam University you can assure your contract partner/publisher that the secondary publication on the server will be provided with a complete title record of the primary publication and a link to the publishing house of the primary publication.

Most publishing houses agree to secondary publications or acquiesce to it. As a matter of fact, most publishers have different ways of distribution and different target groups. Another important argument for negotiations with the publishing house is the positive side effect that the online version is in fact valuable advertising for the print version.

If the amendment is rejected by the publisher, secondary publication might still be possible - depending on special agreements with the publisher.

Most publishing houses provide guidelines that indicate if and how authors may publish their works online as secondary publications and if there are any waiting periods to be considered.

The SHERPA project provides the SHERPA/RoMEO list which may serve you as a guideline for the policies of the most common publishing houses or journals. The statements in the list may serve as an orientation and thus are not legally binding. The only legally binding document is the contract between the author and the publisher. Preprints (before review) and postprints (after review) are treated differently in the regulations for the electronic secondary publication. The so-called 'final draft' (galley proof of the publishing house) is frequently called a 'postprint'.

Some examples for alternative publishing house contracts:

Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine (A tool for generating individual contract amendments for the protection of your author rights, providing the option to choose from the conditions of the SPARC and MIT initiatives)

SPARC Addendum

MIT-Libraries: Managing your Copyright (... Sample Publication Agreement, Sample Publisher’s Contract)

Forschungszentrum Jülich: Copyright: Autorenverträge günstiger gestalten (Research Center Jülich: Copyright: formulating author contracts more beneficially)

Frequently, guidelines of publishing houses are not clearly and consistently formulated. If in doubt, you should request the consent of the respective publishing house directly. If you need assistance with the clarificaton of rights issues, please get in touch with us.

Publication of Your Article in an Open Access Journal Regardless of Your Publishing Contract

According to paragraph 38 (1) of German Copyright Law (in German), the author may reproduce and distribute his or her work after a one-year period of publication, unless otherwise agreed.

According to paragraph 38 (4) of German Copyright Law (in German), authors are granted the inalienable right to publish the accepted manuscript version of their scholarly or scientific work online after a waiting period of twelve months. However, the following four conditions have to be fulfilled:
First, at least half of the research project must have been financed from public funds. Second, the article in question must have been published in a periodical that has at least two volumes per year. Moreover, the online publication may not be used to pursue commercial purposes and the source of the primary publication has to be mentioned clearly.

Further Information (in German)

FAQ - Open Access and Legal Aspects of Secondary Publication
(Allianz der deutschen Wissenschaftsorganisationen)

FAQ - Open Access and Legal Aspects of Secondary Publication
(iuwis - Infrastruktur Urheberrecht für Wissenschaft und Bildung)

Scheme on the Applicability of paragraph 38 (4) of German Copyright Law
(Hartmann, Thomas: FAQ-Check für das neue Zweitverwertungsrecht gem. § 38 Abs. 4 UrhG, Handout für die Open-Access-Tage 2013, 02.10.2013, Hamburg)

FAQ – Was erlaubt das neue Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht?
(Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen)

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