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Copyright for Publishing

Many authors early in their careers transfer their copyrights to publishers in exchange for having the work published. Congress recognized that there is unequal bargaining power in such a situation and added a section to the U.S. Copyright law which allows authors to reclaim their copyright from the publisher. 

For transfers of copyright made by authors on or after January 1, 1978

1. Termination must occur either 35 years from publication or 40 years from the date of assignment of copyright to publisher.

2. Termination must occur within a 5 year period or the reversion right is forfeited.

3. Termination notice must be served on copyright holder no later than 2 years before time expires and up to 10 years before beginning of 5 year period.

Example: If the work was published in 1978, then the termination window is 2013-2018. The notice must be submitted no later than 2016 and no earlier than 2003.

Timeline for Reclaiming Author Copyright

To reclaim your copyright see Notification of Termination regulations

Author Rights

Copyright law grants the copyright holder a "bundle" of rights that includes the right to:  

  • Reproduce the work
  • Distribute the work
  • Publicly display or perform the work
  • Prepare derivative works, such as translation, dramatization, art reproduction, fictionalization, condensation, etc.

Authors have these exclusive rights, unless or until they sign a legal document giving some or all of these rights to another party, e.g. publisher. While many publishers ask authors to transfer all (exclusive) copyright to them at time of publication, publishers only need permission to publish the work, not a complete transfer of copyright. 

Authors can choose not to grant "exclusive" rights to publishers. By retaining non-exclusive rights authors can continue to use their work in the classroom, share with colleagues, reuse portions of the work in future publications, and add the work to their institutional repository. 


Purdue Fort Wayne Open Access Policy

In 2015 the faculty senate passed an Open Access Policy that grants non-exclusive rights to faculty scholarly articles to the University for the purpose of making this content widely and freely available in an open access repository, i.e. Opus. The assigning of non-exclusive rights in scholarly articles to the university prevents faculty from assigning exclusive rights to the publisher. This frees faculty from the need to negotiate with publishers concerning the grant of exclusive rights.

For more details about Purdue Fort Wayne's Open Access Policy consult:

Other Copyright Management Options

While Purdue Fort Wayne's faculty has adopted an Open Access Policy that protects faculty from transferring exclusive rights to their scholarly articles to publishers, faculty, students and staff produce and own copyright in a number of other types of scholarly/creative works, such as books, book chapters, music, fiction, etc., that are not covered by the Open Access Policy.  

Other options for managing copyright and protecting your content as an author/creator are available: 

  • Carefully read the publisher's agreement using the library's Checklist for Reviewing Publisher Copyright Agreements to identify what rights, if any, the publisher's agreement grants to the author(s)
  • Attach the Addendum to Publication Agreements for CIC Authors to the publisher's copyright agreement. This addendum has the support of IU, Purdue, and other Big Ten research institutions. The addendum allows you to retain rights such as using your work in teaching, professional activities, and posting your work on an institutional repository, like Opus.
  • Rather than transferring copyright, grant the publisher a nonexclusive license.  For examples of non-exclusive licenses, see Creative Commons