Nuts and Bolts of Scholarly Publishing

All you need to get started selecting journals for publication and reviewing author's agreements

Copyright Basics

What is copyright and why is it important to scholarly authors?

What is Copyright?

Copyright, "is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works." - U.S. Copyright Office

Put simply, U.S. law provides authors of creative and intellectual works the exclusive "right to copy" their work. This includes the rights to:

  • Reproduce or copy
  • Distribute
  • Publicly perform
  • Publicly display, and
  • Create derivatives

Copyright exists from the moment a work is created and put in a tangible medium. This means that copyright does not protect an idea or the facts upon which an idea is based. 

In order to re-use a copyrighted work, your use must fall under one of the copyright exceptions laid out in U.S. law or you must ask for permission from the author.

For a more in-depth introduction to copyright law, check out the resources below:

Who Owns a Scholarly Manuscript?

A work's creator is, in most situations, its copyright owner. For manuscripts of scholarly journal articles, this means that the author is also the copyright owner. If the manuscript has more than one author, the authors share copyright ownership.

Work created within the scope of employment may, in certain situations, be considered a "work for hire" that belongs to the author's employer. 

However, UTSA does not assert copyright ownership over:

  1. Scholarly or educational materials, class content, art works, musical compositions and dramatic and nondramatic literary works authored by a Covered Creator(s) and related to his/her academic or professional field (hereinafter referred to collectively as “Scholarly Works”), provided it was not commissioned by UTSA as a work for hire or as in Institutional Project; or
  2. Original software whose content consists of Scholarly Works or that is integral to the presentation of such Scholarly Work(s).

Keep in mind that copyright is separate from other types of intellectual property, such as patents or trademarks, that may have different policies. Consult the UTSA HOP Chapter 10.15 Management, Use and Commercialization of UTSA Intellectual Policy for further information.

If scholarly work has been supported by a grant or sponsor, the funding agreement may specify whether the funder has a claim to ownership of copyright in any related publications.

To learn more about copyright ownership, start with these resources for authors: