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Copyright: Authors

Copyright Ownership

If you are planning to publish an original personally authored literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic work, you may wish to review your rights as a creator. Copyright protection commences as soon as your work is created, and generally lasts for your lifetime plus fifty years. Although not required, you may choose to register your copyright in a work through the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. The Canadian Copyright Act provides that the first owner of copyright is usually the author of a work, but an exception is a work made in the course of employment for which first ownership belongs to the employer in the absence of any agreement to the contrary.

Agreements covering copyright ownership of original works created by University of Lethbridge Faculty Association (ULFA) members are set out in Article 18 and Schedule C of the Academic Staff Collective Agreement. In general, copyright in original works created by an ULFA member in the course of employment is retained by the member, although exceptions may apply if a member is specifically instructed to create a work as part of his or her assigned duties. For more information about ownership and use of copyright works created by ULFA members, please contact the Association.

Author Rights

Traditional publishing models may require you as an author to assign some or all of your ownership rights to the publisher of your work. Doing so, however, may constrain your ability to use and determine access to your work. Suggested ways to publish your works without giving up all of your copyright interests are offered by the following organizations:

  • Canadian Association of University Teachers: CAUT provides an advisory on retaining copyright in journal articles which encourages authors to assign to publishers only the rights needed to publish articles.
  • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition: SPARC and CARL (the Canadian Association of Research Libraries) have created a SPARC Canadian author's addendum. If you have had a scholarly manuscript accepted for publication, you can ask your publisher to include the addendum in your author publishing agreement. CARL provides more information on the addendum in a brochure.
  • Arizona State University Library: How to Retain Ownership of Your Copyright when Dealing with Publishers. This "very short guide to negotiation" provides practical advice on how to prepare for and conduct actual negotiations with your publisher regarding a publishing agreement and your copyrights. Keep in mind that there are many differences in the specific provisions under Canadian and U.S. copyright law.
  • Authors Alliance: Understanding and Negotiating Book Publishing Contracts.  Based on U.S. copyright law, but provides useful information on many clauses commonly included in publishing agreements.
  • Science Commons: As a Creative Commons project, Science Commons offers the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine which provides another way to develop a publishing agreement addendum that specifies author rights you wish to retain over your work.

Note that most publishing agreements contain a clause whereby the parties agree that there are no other agreements or representations between the parties. Thus if you wish to use an addendum that is binding and enforceable, the main agreement should either include a provision that expressly incorporates the addendum, or the addendum should be signed at the same time as the publishing agreement as a stipulated component of the agreement1.

1 The information provided on this site is offered as general guidance only, not as legal counsel.

Publishing Models and Policies

Alternatives to traditional publishing models include open access (OA) publishing. The Canadian Association of Research Libraries describes open access as "a model of scholarly communication that promises to greatly improve the accessibility of results of research" and explains reasons for supporting OA in its Position Statement on Open Access.

RoMEO (Rights MEtadata for Open archiving) is a database of publisher policies on copyright and self-archiving maintained by SHERPA (Securing a Hybrid Environment for Research, Preservation and Access) at the University of Nottingham with the help of many international partners.  Use this tool to locate the publishing policy of a journal publisher you are considering in order to determine the extent to which the publisher supports open access or author retention of self-archiving and distribution rights.

Contact Us

University Copyright Advisor office
Phone: 403-332-4472

Rumi Graham
University Copyright Advisor
L1154, University Library

Nanda Stannard
Library Operations Specialist
L1156, University Library

Mechelle McCalla
Library Operations Specialist
L1146, University Library

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