Copyright and Scholarly Publishing: Author's Addendum

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Recently, Jill posted about a very handy Author Addendum (PDF) that you can present to publishers when you're asked to sign over copyright. The Addendum was created by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition in conjunction with the Association of Research Libraries. Science Commons also had a hand in it.

The terms of the Addendum give authors the right to "reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display the Article in any medium for noncommercial purposes" as well as the right to make derivative works and the right to allow other people to create derivative works, provided they're for noncommercial purposes. Basically, it's like a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs license, in that, the way the Addendum is worded, it sounds like other people can create derivative works, but they have to ask the author first.

Jill had some modest degree of success using the Addendum with MIT Press, and I think we in rhetoric and composition and technical communication should test it too! I would love to see this Addendum become ubiquitous in our field(s) -- for publishers to come to expect copyright negotiations when they're dealing with us, or with anyone in the humanities for that matter.

The first page gives instructions on how to use the addendum, and it's delightfully subversive. The authors suggest that you write a cover letter directing attention to the addendum and submit it with the publisher's contract and the addendum. They instruct us to sign the publisher's contract, but right under our signature, write "Subject to attached addendum."

AND, if the publisher prints the article and doesn't sign the addendum, that constitutes implicit agreement to the terns of the addendum -- the language in the addendum specifies this. Heh.

Edited: SPARC recently published some presentations from a forum titled "Authors and Authority: Perspectives on Negotiating Licenses and Copyright."