Author Rights: Copyright in Open Education #2


Hello, everyone! As I mentioned in my first video on this topic,
copyright is an incredibly important issue in Open Education. So in this video, we’re going to take a
look at Author Rights. But first, a disclaimer: I am not a lawyer
and this is not legal advice. If you do need official legal advice, talk
to a lawyer or your copyright office on campus. Copyright law is meant to protect an author’s intellectual property rights: their rights over how their creations are used. Specifically, copyright law gives you control
over how your work is displayed, reproduced, distributed, adapted, or performed. However, for many authors of educational
content, especially those who have previously published content, getting these rights for
their users is not easy. This is because, under most traditional publication
contracts, all of an author’s copyright control is transferred to their publisher. So, what can you do about that? We’ll start with what you can do before
you publish. Your first option for keeping copyright control
over your work is to publish your work openly from the beginning. Whether you publish with a large-scale Open
Access publisher like Open Book Publishers, your university press, or independently through
a tool like OER Commons’ Open Author, making your work open from the start is the easiest
way to make sure that you keep the rights and that your work is as open as you want it to be. But be sure to read your contract carefully,
no matter who you’re publishing with! Some Open Access publishers require you to
assign a specific license to your work which may be more or less restrictive that you want
it to be. Look into their policies before choosing the
first open publisher you see, and check out a video on open licensing for some more information. Your second option for keeping your copyright
is to negotiate with your publisher for the rights you want to keep, often through the use of an addendum to your contract before you sign. Adding an addendum can be scary at first,
but you don’t have to do it all yourself. SPARC and other groups have created excellent
stock addenda you can use in your publishing contracts to outline the rights you’d like to keep. Look at your options and customize the text
to fit your needs, but be sure to run the text by a copyright official to be sure that any alterations you made to the addendum fit in. And keep a copy of your contract on file! Publishers sometimes update their policies and then attempt to make authors abide by their new terms. If you’ve altered your contract in any way,
having a copy available will make conversations with your publisher easier in the future. Speaking of which… After you’ve published your work, you do
still have some options for getting your copyright back. One way is through the use of a rights reversion
clause or termination clause in your contract. Rights reversion clauses allow authors to
get their copyright returned after a certain number of years, if their book goes out of print, or if their publisher never actually publishes their work (it happens!). An example of a rights reversion clause is
shown on this page. If you don’t see any clauses like this one
in your contract (and remember, the wording may not be exactly the same), you may still be able to terminate your contract and retrieve your copyright. If you can’t find anything explicit in your
publishing contract, you do have one final option: talk to your publisher. Publishers have a vested interest in keeping
authors happy, so depending on who you’re working with, they may be willing to negotiate with you. If your textbook or other published resource
is now out of print, you will have better leverage for getting your rights back. Some publishers might require you to change
the name of the open version of your work to avoid any confusion between the two, but
it can work out. Talk to your publisher before you give up
completely, and remember, there’s always an option out there for you to consider. Thanks for watching! Remember, I’m a librarian, not a lawyer. If there’s something I missed, please feel
free to comment and let me know, and join in the conversation if you’d like to see
more content like this in the future!

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