Understanding copyright for journal authors

What is copyright?

Copyright is a type of intellectual property which protects certain sorts of original creative work, including academic articles. Copyright allows the creator of a work to decide whether, and under what conditions, their work may be used, published and distributed by others. As such, it governs how others can use, publish and distribute articles.

Understanding your copyright options as an author is becoming ever more important, especially with the growth of open access publishing.

Find out more about article publishing charges, embargo, and license information with the Open Access Cost Finder.

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How long does copyright last?

Copyright in a work does not last forever. The exact duration of copyright depends on the type of work and can vary between countries. However, for a literary work such as an academic article, the duration is usually life of the author plus 70 years.

Copyright at Taylor & Francis

To publish an article and make it available, we need publishing rights from you for that work. We therefore ask authors publishing in one of our journals to sign an author contract which grants us the necessary publishing rights. This will be after your manuscript has been through the peer-review process, been accepted and moves into production. Our Production team will then send you an email with all the details.

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Standard articles in subscription journals

There are two main options for authors publishing a (non open access) article in a subscription journal. These are copyright assignment or exclusive license to publish.

1. Copyright assignment

In our standard author contract, you transfer – or “assign” – copyright to us as the owner and publisher of the journal (or, in the case of a society-owned journal, to that learned society).

Assigning the copyright enables us to:

  • Effectively manage, publish and make your work available to the academic community and beyond.

  • Act as stewards of your work as it appears in the scholarly record.

  • Handle reuse requests on your behalf.

  • Take action when appropriate where your article has been infringed or plagiarized.

  • Increase visibility of your work through third parties.

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After assigning copyright, you will still retain the right to:

  • Be credited as the author of the article.

  • Make printed copies of your article to use for a lecture or class that you are leading on a non-commercial basis.

  • Share your article using your free eprints with friends, colleagues and influential people you would like to read your work.

  • Include your article in your thesis or dissertation.

  • Present your article at a meeting or conference and distribute printed copies of the article on a non-commercial basis.

  • Post the Author’s Original Manuscript (AOM)/Accepted Manuscript (AM) on a departmental, personal website or institutional repositories depending on embargo period. To find the embargo period for any Taylor & Francis journal, please use the Open Access Options Finder.

  • For more information about manuscript versions and how you can use them, please see our guide to sharing your work.

If you publish your article in a Taylor & Francis or Routledge journal, there are many ways you can share different versions of your work with colleagues and peers. Use our article sharing guide to understand manuscript versions and how you can use them.

2. Exclusive license to publish

Alternatively, in some circumstances, you may grant us (or the learned society) an exclusive license to publish your paper rather than assigning copyright. In this arrangement, you as the author retain copyright in your work, but grant us exclusive rights to publish and disseminate it.

As with an assignment, reuse requests are handled by the publisher on your behalf. The publisher will manage the intellectual property rights and represent your article in cases of copyright infringement.

Other forms of license

Other forms of copyright license may be available depending on your specific circumstances – for example, US government employees.

Open access articles

When you publish an open access article, you will retain the copyright in your work. We will ask you to sign an author contract which gives us the right to publish the Version of Record of your article. This author contract incorporates the Creative Commons license of your choice, which will dictate what others can do with your article once it has been published. Find out which licenses your chosen journal offers by using the open access cost finder.

Attribution (CC BY)

CC BY Attribution license

Others can distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation.

Attribution-Non-commercial (CC BY-NC)

CC BY-NC license

Others can 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.

  • We offer this license on the majority of our full Open journals.

Attribution-Non-commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND)

Others can 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.

Please visit the Creative Commons website for more details about licenses.

Understanding article reuse

Each license offers different reuse rights. The table below gives a quick overview of how others can use your work, based on the relevant license.

Copyright option Distribution Derivative works Translation Adaptation Commercial reuse Original author credited Same license used for secondary works
Assignment NO NO NO NO NO YES NO
Exclusive license to publish NO NO NO NO NO YES NO
Attribution Non-commercial (CC BY-NC) YES (Non-commercial) YES (Non-commercial) YES (Non-commercial) YES (Non-commercial) NO YES NO
Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) YES (Non-commercial) NO NO NO NO YES NO

Frequently asked questions

What if I do not own the copyright in the article I have written?

We seek to accommodate authors who are employees of governments, international organizations, or commercial corporations. Such entities will generally own copyright in works created as part of an employee’s employment.

Such entities will normally issue and grant Taylor & Francis a “non-exclusive” license to publish. In such situations, the publishing agreement stipulates that in doing so, such entities recognize Taylor & Francis as the sole licensee for the publication of the final, definitive, and citable Version of Scholarly Record.

If you work for World Health Organization (WHO) or the World Bank they will retain copyright in the article and authors negotiate whether exclusive or nonexclusive rights are given.

If you are employed by the UK Government, your work is covered by Crown Copyright. Crown Copyright applies to material which is produced by Crown employees during their work. Therefore, most material originated by ministers and civil servants is protected by Crown Copyright.

If you are employed by the US Government, your work is covered by the US Government Copyright.

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If I have used any third-party material, whether previously published or not, do I need to acknowledge this?

Yes. You will need to obtain written permission in advance from any third-party owners of copyright for the use in print and electronic formats of any of their text, illustrations, graphics, or other material, in your article and in our journals. The same applies to any other rights held by third parties such as trademarks, design rights, database rights and rights relating to private information and confidentiality.

Taylor & Francis is a signatory of, and respects, the spirit of the STM Permissions Guidelines regarding the free sharing and dissemination of scholarly information. As such, we participate in the reciprocal free exchange of material. It is also important to ensure you acknowledge the source of the original content.

For further details please read our guide to using third party material in your article.

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