Copyright Resources: Copyright Considerations for Authors

This guide contains information and resources to support KU students, faculty, and staff in their efforts to use and create copyrighted works in teaching and learning, research, and creative activity.


Authors are the automatic owners of copyright in the works they create unless or until they agree to contractual terms that transfer copyright in their creations, such as through work for hire or via publication agreements. Publication agreements frequently transfer copyright to the publisher, consequently making the publisher the owner of the copyright in the work.

Authors are encouraged to understand these transactions and related publication norms in order to secure rights or permissions to share their work widely and reuse their work as they see fit.

This tab contains information and resources on author's rights, publication agreements, and sharing.

KU Libraries’ Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright is available to assist KU faculty, staff, and students with questions concerning copyright and fair use of copyrighted materials, in consultation with the KU Office of the General Counsel as needed. Contact us at for assistance.


Before Publication

A publication agreement is a legally binding contract between author/s and publisher that enumerate the conditions under which a work may be published. Publication agreements are usually signed at the point of acceptance for publication. Authors wishing to exert more control over their rights as authors should:

  • Understand publication agreements; Introduction to Publisher Agreements (pdf) is a short primer for authors
  • Familiarize themselves with journal & publisher policies on copyright and author sharing after publication; SHERPA/RoMEO is a database of publisher copyright and sharing policies. Search for publisher policies by journal title or by publisher name.
  • Retain rights to share a copy of your published article, book chapter, or other scholarly work in KU ScholarWorks through the publication agreement:
  • Additional information on publication agreements, components of a typical agreement, and how editors of journals can choose language that supports authors' choices for open sharing, see the Journal Author Agreements tab on the Resources for Editors page.

After Publication

Authors wishing to share a work in KU ScholarWorks after signing a publication contract (that doesn't permit sharing) may request permission directly from the publisher using language suggested in the documents linked below.

For scholarly articles:

For books and/or book chapters:

For more information on versions, see the "Versions" box on this page.


An embargo is an academic publishing term that refers to a delay on full text access, or a period during which access to content is not allowed to users who have not paid for access (or have access through their institution). From an author's rights perspective, any delay on full text access is a potential damper of impact.

Embargoes may delay KU authors from openly sharing their work outside of a paywall unless authors negotiate their publication contracts or take other action to eliminate them. Embargoes are established in publication contracts, and may be as short as a few months, or in some cases up to four years in length; 12 months is common. For general information on embargoes, see Wikipedia: Embargoes. For KU authors interested in navigating embargoes, contact

Open Access

Open Access (OA) refers to scholarly literature that is digital, online, free of charge, and ideally, free of most copyright and reuse restrictions. OA directly benefits authors (visibility, impact) and readers. For more information about OA at KU, including support via the Shulenburger Office of Scholarly Communication & Copyright, the KU Faculty Open Access Policy, and KU ScholarWorks, visit KU Libraries' Open Access site.


Publisher policies vary in the version of the article that they allow to be shared or reused.   Here’s a brief explanation of the terms commonly used by publishers in publication agreements and on journal websites.

  • The Published version is the article as it appears in the journal when published.    
  • The Author’s Final Draft version—also known as the author’s accepted manuscript or post-print—is the author’s version of the document that incorporates peer review suggestions.   It is often a Microsoft Word document that has the same content as the published version, but lacks the typesetting and page numbering of the published version. 
  • The Pre-print version – also known as the author’s submitted manuscript-- is the article as originally submitted for publication, before peer review changes are made.