author rights

Authorship of a scientific article is associated with certain intellectual property rights, protected within the framework of copyright laws. The details of such laws vary between one jurisdiction and another, although they are normally accommodated satisfactorily by traditional practices in scientific publishing. With new approaches to publication, including self-archiving and open-access dissemination, new practices are arising with respect to copyright and licensing arrangements. On this page we provide details of the rights of an author who publishes in an IUCr journal.

Under the most widespread international agreement, the Berne Convention, copyright in an article automatically belongs to the creator or creators of the article, except for works performed 'for hire', in which case the employer or funding body may own the copyright in the work. Traditionally that copyright has formally been transferred to the publisher in the case of a scientific article accepted for publication. This allows the publisher to manage permissions and other functions on behalf of the author; the author, however, retains extensive rights of fair use to the original material. Sometimes, however, the author (or the author's employer or funding body) retains copyright, and licenses the publisher to discharge certain specific rights of dissemination and redistribution. Also, especially for the results of government-funded research, copyright is sometimes waived. In the sections below, we discuss the practical implications for authors in each of these cases.

Author rights prior to acceptance

Although authors retain full rights over their article prior to its acceptance for publication, there is a normal standard of good behaviour to safeguard the journal's investment of resources in peer review, and the confidentiality of the submitted article while it is in an unfinished form. Therefore, provided the authors acknowledge that the article has been submitted for publication in an IUCr journal, they may:

  • share print or electronic copies of the article with colleagues;
  • post an electronic version of the article on their personal website, their employer's website/repository and on free public servers in their subject area.

Author rights after acceptance

Transfer of copyright

Note that for a multi-author article, only one author need sign the Transfer of Copyright Agreement, but that signature is on behalf of all named authors. It is the responsibility of the signing author to obtain the consent of fellow authors to act as their agent in this respect. The rights reserved to authors, listed below, apply equally to all the authors of the paper.

Authors retain the following rights to re-use the article, as long as it is not sold or reproduced, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes, i.e. for monetary gain on the authors' account or on that of a third party, or for indirect financial gain by a commercial entity. These rights apply without needing to seek permission from the IUCr.

Provided that a full bibliographic reference to the article as published in an IUCr journal is made, authors may:

  • share print or electronic copies of the article with colleagues;
  • use all or part of the article and abstract, without revision or modification, in theses and/or dissertations, in personal compilations or other publications of their own work (and may receive a royalty or other payment for such work);
  • use the article within their employer's institution or company for educational or research purposes, including use in course packs;
  • post an authorised electronic reprint of the article on their own personal website, on their employer's website/repository and on not-for-profit repositories in their subject area. This includes posting on PubMedCentral and related servers. The site must give full attribution to the article and must provide a link to the original article on the IUCr server.

The authorised electronic reprint stipulated above is automatically made available to authors upon publication of their article, or may subsequently be requested from the IUCr. It includes a cover sheet displaying the full bibliographic reference of the published article and conditions of re-use, and is overstamped with an 'electronic reprint' watermark, but is otherwise identical to the final published version of the article as it appears in the journal. Authors are required to provide a link from their posting to the original article on the IUCr server.

Retention or waiver of copyright

In retaining copyright, for example as directed by an employer, authors grant to the IUCr a licence to publish, under which the IUCr will handle direct requests by third parties to re-use the article in whole or in part.

Authors retain all other rights associated with copyright, including, but not limited to, those listed in the preceding section.

Open access

Authors of open-access articles will not be asked to transfer copyright to the IUCr, but will instead be asked to agree to an open-access licence.

The licence provides for the re-use of the article in whole or part provided there is attribution for the article.

Supplementary materials and supporting data

It is the practice of IUCr journals to provide free access to all supplementary materials and supporting data files deposited with a published article. Copyright in supplementary materials that represent an author's creative work (e.g. mathematical appendices, extended discussion, additional figures) will follow that of the primary article, i.e. transferred to the IUCr or reserved by the author. Copyright protection is not extended to files of scientific data (e.g. structural data CIFs, structure factors, primary diffraction images), and such data sets may be used for bona fide research purposes within the scientific community so long as proper attribution is given to the source from which they were obtained.

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