When you publish a book or a paper, many publishers will ask you to transfer all copyrights in the work to them. But that is not always to your advantage.
When you assign copyright to publishers, you lose control over your scholarly output. Assignment of copyright ownership may limit your ability to incorporate elements into future articles and books or to use your own work in teaching at the University. Others at Cornell might be forced to pay to use the material in their teaching.
Unless addressed in the transfer agreement, you may be forbidden by the publisher to do the following:
- Post the work to your own web site or to a disciplinary online archive
- Copy the work for distribution to students
- Use the work as the basis for future articles or other works
- Give permission for the work to be used in a course at Cornell
- Grant permission to faculty and students at other universities to use the material
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has urged that "...scientists, as authors, should strive to use the leverage of their ownership of the bundle of copyright rights, whether or not they transfer copyright, to secure licensing terms that promote as much as possible ready access to and use of their published work." We present some copyright options that can help.