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Research Guides

Open Access Publishing

Manage Your Rights

What can I do to manage my rights wisely?

  1. Recognize that, as a faculty member, researcher or student at Texas A&M, you automatically own the rights in your works of scholarship, creativity or culture (per Texas A&M Policy 17.01, Intellectual Property Management.)
  2. Understand that the term of protection for your copyright lasts for the duration of your life plus 70 years.  During that term, you (or your heirs) can not "lose" your copyright. But you can transfer it to another entity, such as a publisher, leaving you in the unhappy circumstance of having to bargain with the new rights holder to use your own work later on.
  3. Think carefully before transferring away your copyright!
  4. If you are hoping to publish your work in a book or journal, look for publishers that do not require you to transfer your copyright.  What a publisher generally needs is the right of first print and electronic publication. While many publishers will ask you to transfer your copyright as a historical custom, some actually will negotiate with you for different terms on an individual basis.
  5. If you must transfer your copyright to the publisher, see if you can retain certain rights that ensure some open access to the work:
    • to archive a copy of your work in an open access repository;
    • to distribute it to students or colleagues as part of not-for-profit teaching or scholarship;
    • to include it in your future works (including your dissertation or thesis if you are a graduate student)
  6. If you have an older work from the 1970's or 1980's, you may be able to terminate the transfer of rights after 35 years, using a provision in US Copyright Law (See Title 17, Section 203).  Consult your scholarly communications office or general counsel for further information on termination rights.
  7. If your work is not subject to the termination rights provision but is out-of-print, ask the publisher about reclaiming your rights.  Some Texas A&M authors have had success "getting their works" back from the publisher and then digitally republishing them via Open Access. An example can be seen in the Texas A&M Repository Profile for Dr. Ray Bowen.