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Scholarly Communication

Information of interest to faculty, students, administration, and librarians concerning the process of communicating research and scholarly work in the academic press (print or online; journals, books, abstracts, and conference proceedings).


According to the World Intellectual Property Organiztion (WIPO):

"Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

IP is divided into two categories:  Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs.  Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs" (

Because of the tight relationship between scholarly communication and copyright, this guide focuses largely on issues of copyright.  However patents and trademarks are important pieces of any IP discussion.

"A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.  In order to be patentable, the invention must fulfill certain conditions" (  In particular, it is important to note that one key aspect of a successful patent application is that you cannot publish or present at a conference or similar venue any details related to the patentable item.  More...

"A trademark is a distinctive sign which identifies certain goods or services as those produced or provided by a specific person or enterprise. Its origin dates back to ancient times, when craftsmen reproduced their signatures, or "marks" on their artistic or utilitarian products. Over the years these marks evolved into today's system of trademark registration and protection. The system helps consumers identify and purchase a product or service because its nature and quality, indicated by its unique trademark, meets their needs" (  More...


The following information is taken from the Baylor University Copyright website.

What is copyright?

Copyright stems from the U. S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 and empowers the United States Congress -- "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Copyright is a form of legal protection that allows authors, photographers, composers, and other creators to control some reproduction and distribution of their work.

There are several different rights that come along with copyright. In general, copyright holders have the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

  • Reproduce the work in whole or in part;
  • Prepare derivative works, such as translations, dramatizations, and musical arrangements;
  • Distribute copies of the work by sale, gift, rental, or loan;
  • Publicly perform the work;
  • Publicly display the work.

These rights have exceptions and limitations, including the "fair use" provisions, which allow certain uses without permission of the copyright holder.

What is protected by copyright?

Copyright protects literature, music, painting, photography, dance, and other forms of creative expression. In order to be protected by copyright, a work must be:

  • Original: A work must be created independently and not copied.
  • Creative: There must be some minimal degree of creativity involved in making the work.
  • A work of authorship: This includes literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, audiovisual, and architectural works.
  • Fixed: The work must be "fixed in a tangible medium of expression" - written on a piece of paper, saved on a computer hard drive, or recorded on an audio or video tape.

What isn't protected by copyright?

There are many things that are not protected by copyright, including:

  • Facts and ideas;
  • Processes, methods, systems, and procedures;
  • Titles;
  • All works prepared by the United States Government;
  • Constitutions and laws of State governments;
  • Materials published in the United States prior to 1923 have passed into the public domain. Use the public domain chart at Cornell for specific details.
  • Some works published between 1923 and 1963 may also be in the public domain, but this can only be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Stanford Copyright Renewal Database can provide assistance with some of these "orphan" works.
  • Another useful tool for learning more about public domain works is the Public Domain Sherpa.

How do works acquire copyright?

Copyright occurs automatically at the creation of a new work. The moment the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, it is copyrighted. Formal procedures such as copyright notice, registration, or publication are not required to obtain copyright.

This means that almost everything is copyrighted. This includes not just published material, such as books and articles, but also your emails and letters, your assignments, your drafts, and your snapshots.

You do not have to provide a copyright notice on your work to receive copyright protection. However, if you are making your work publicly available, it's a very good idea to include a copyright notice, along with your contact information, so that people who want to re-use your work will be able to get in touch with you. A good copyright notice might look something like:

"© 2008 J. Doe. For permissions and questions contact"

Is copyright forever?

Copyright lasts from the moment a work is created until 70 years after the death of the author, except for works produced by a company/employer or other "works for hire" in which case the copyright lasts 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

Who owns a copyrighted work?

The creator is usually the initial copyright holder. If two or more people jointly create a work, they are joint holders of the copyright, with equal rights. Note that this may differ from common academic conduct and expectations, where the lead author may be considered more important than the others.

If a work is created as a part of a person's employment, that work is a "work made for hire" and the copyright belongs to the employer, unless the employer explicitly grants rights to the employee in a signed agreement. By tradition, faculty writings are not treated as "work made for hire"; visit the Baylor University Intellectual Property Policy for more information.

In the case of work by independent contractors or freelancers, the copyright belongs to the contractor or freelancer unless otherwise negotiated beforehand, and agreed to in writing.

It is possible to transfer a copyright; this frequently happens as a part of publishing agreements. In many cases, the publisher holds the copyright to a work, and not the author. A valid copyright transfer requires a signed written agreement.

How do I register my copyright?

You do not have to register your work to receive and retain copyright protection, but if you plan to publish, post, or otherwise distribute your work, it may be a good idea to do so since registration confers a number of legal benefits. You may register a work at any time while it is still in copyright. Registering is not difficult, and the fee is $45.00. For instructions and forms, visit the United States Copyright Office website.

Intellectual Property at Baylor

Authors' Rights

What are my rights as an author or creator of a work?

You exclusively hold the following rights for your works:

    • To make copies of the work;
    • To distribute the work;
    • To make derivatives of the work:
    • To publicly perform or publicly display the work.

Until you transfer all of those rights or some portion of those rights exclusively to another entity.

When are my rights transferred?

Usually, when a work is accepted for publication, the creator signs an agreement with the publisher.  That agreement specifies any transfers of rights and specifies what, if any, rights the creator maintains.

How can I maintain control of my rights?

Read any agreements before signing the agreement.  If you want assistance in understanding what the agreement is saying, contact

Do I have to transfer all of my rights?

You can transfer some of your rights or all of your rights, and you can do so exclusively (only the rightsholder can exercise the transferred rights) or non-exclusively (the rightsholder can exercise the transferred rights, but these rights can still be exercised by your or could be transferred to others).

What rights might I want to continue to hold?

  • The right to place a preprint or a post-print online either on your personal website or in the university's institutional repository -- BEARdocs at Baylor University or in PubMed Central if the research the work reports was the result of an NIH grant.
  • The right to distritube the work to students in your classes via a class website.
  • The right to re-use the work in another work, an anthology, for example.

What if I want to change the terms of the agreement?

Contact the publisher specifiying the terms you would like changed.  Many publishers are aware that researchers want to retain certain rights and will provide an alternative contract.  Consider using the authors' addendum available from SPARC or you could use the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine to generate an addendum appropriate for your needs.

What if the publisher doesn't want to negotiate the contract?

  • Explain to the publisher why it's important to you to retain the specified rights.
  • Ask the publisher to explain her concerns. Is there room for further negotiation?
  • Assess the importance of publishing with this publisher; is there another publication of similar value that may be more open to accepting your copyright stipulations?

Where can I learn more?

Review Resources for Authors provided by SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition) or contact with any questions.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization that has developed a set of free public licenses that enable authors and creators to allow others to make certain uses of their work without asking for permission. Their tagline - "Some Rights Reserved" - emphasizes the idea that creators can keep some of their rights while choosing to share the rest. You can use Creative Commons licenses to share your writing, teaching materials, photographs, or any other works for which you hold the copyright. For an brief overview of Creative Commons, take a look at this lecture based on the the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative "7 Things" series.

Types of licenses (taken from About the Licenses at Creative Commons).

    Attribution CC BY -- Allows others to distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

Attribution-NoDerivs CC BY-ND -- Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA -- Allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms.

Attribution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA -- Allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial purposes, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms. This license is often compared to “copyleft” free and open source software licenses. All new works based on yours will carry the same license, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use. This is the license used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that would benefit from incorporating content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC -- Allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon your work non-commercially, and although their new works must also acknowledge you and be non-commercial, they don’t have to license their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND -- This license is the most restrictive of the six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially.

For more information, visit Creative Commons.

Peer Production License

A Peer Production License places greater limitations on downstream use of a work. From the Peer Production License website:

"The peer production license is an example of the Copyfair type of license, in which only other commoners, cooperatives and nonprofits can share and re-use the material, but not commercial entities intent on making profit through the commons without explicit reciprocity. This fork on the original text of the Creative Commons non-commercial variant makes the PPL an explicitly anti-capitalist version of the CC-NC. It only allows commercial exploitation by collectives in which the ownership of the means of production is in the hands of the value creators, and where any surplus is distributed equally among them (and not only into the hands of owners, shareholders or absentee speculators). According to Dmytri Kleiner, co-author of the license with the barrister John Magyar, it’s not a copyleft license, but instead copyFARleft, and is intended for consumer goods or commodities rather than capital or producers’ goods."

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is the moral and ethical code in our academic community.  Each discipline has their own specific codes of conduct whether it be in guiding principles of publishing, research, or testing.

Baylor University follows a set of policies and procedures which can be found in Baylor's Honor Code.



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