Copyright is the legislated protection of the intellectual property of the creator of the original work. The creator of the original work has exclusive rights to the use and distribution of the work. Often originators of the work sign away copyright to a third party, granting such a third party sole distribution rights of the work.

At UCT, authors own copyright to their scholarly work. Some academics are reluctant to add their scholarly works to UCT’s institutional repository, OpenUCT, as they would have transferred their copyright to the publisher. However, in the open access journal model, the author retains copyright and is free to submit to the work to the repository. Most subscription based journals will insist that an author sign a copyright transfer agreement, which means that the author is required to transfer copyright upon publication [please read below the Author’s Rights]. UCT authors can check SHERPA/RoMEO to see what the copyright policy is of publishers and what version is allowed to be made open access in repositories.

Benefits of publishing with a Creative Commons license

Many Open Access publishers use Creative Commons licences to ensure that the content of the articles published in their journals are reusable: that is, they can be reproduced, mined by text-mining and data-mining tools and so on.

An author, as  copyright holder, can prescribe how the research can  be used by attaching a Creative Commons license to it. There are six types of these licenses, which allow the reuse of research in the broadest sense, but with differences.

For more information on Creative Commons in a South African context, download this licensing guide that includes FAQs and third party copyright.

Author’s rights                             

As a UCT author, you would want to publish in a journal of prestige, as well as have the widest distribution and impact of your research.

As an author, you have the right to modify your copyright agreement by communicating your requirements, such as: the right to use the article in your teaching, the right to incorporate the content in subsequent work (whilst citing the first publication), as well as depositing the author accepted manuscript version of the article in OpenUCT with a limited embargo period. The publisher is free to accept or reject these modifications. By merely accepting the publisher’s copyright agreement, without wanting to retain some of your rights as an author, you will be limiting the distribution of your research and lessening its potential impact in the scholarly community. The author is welcome to contact the OpenUCT office for guidance with regard to author addendum.

There is a SPARC author addendum, which is a legal document that allows you to keep some rights to the article as an author. This addendum should accompany the copyright transfer agreement of publishers.

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