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Copyright issues for authors

This is an introduction to copyright issues relating to the USQ ePrint repository and academic publishing at USQ. It includes some practical suggestions for managing your copyright. Copyright law is complex so if necessary seek further advice from the University Legal Officer.

What is copyright?

Copyright is part of the law concerning intellectual property. It aims to reward people who do creative or intellectual work, give incentive to people who create new works and stop people getting an unfair advantage from the work of others. It aims to ensure that the public can benefit from the innovation in the form of cultural, social and economic development.

Generally, the author or creator of a work is automatically the first owner of the copyright in the work. If a work is created in the course of employment, the employer can sometimes assert ownership of that copyright. For more information see the USQ Intellectual Property Policy.

Copyright owners can transfer their copyright to a third party. Many academic journal publishers currently require authors to assign copyright in a work to them as part of the submission process.

Why is copyright important to me?

Copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights, including:

  • the right to publish the material
  • the right to reproduce the work (for example, by copying or scanning)
  • the right to communicate the work to the public (for example, by making it available online, by emailing it or by faxing it)

Thus, assigning copyright, on an unconditional basis, to a journal publisher means that you may be giving away free access to your own work.

  • You may not be allowed to post a copy on your own Web site or deposit a copy in an eprint repository.
  • You may have to ask permission, and perhaps even pay a royalty, to distribute copies to your classes or include your own work in a course pack.
  • Only subscribers to the journal (individually, institutionally or via a fulltext database license) will be able to access your research. This can seriously restrict research impact and progress.
  • As journal subscription fees continue to increase above the rate of inflation, many individuals and libraries will cancel journal subscriptions further restricting research access and impact.

For an overview of the issues, see the CreateChange website.

The establishment of institutional eprint repositories is one of the strategies currently being proposed by scholarly communities around the globe to address this issue. USQ ePrints is one of these institutional repositories. The papers in USQ ePrints are part of an international corpus of research literature that is freely available online.