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Copyright and Scholarly Publishing

Copyright questions related to scholarly publishing typically address one of the following issues:

  • How to incorporate a piece of someone else’s work into your own scholarship; or
  • What you can do with your own work, once it has been published.

For information about negotiating publication agreements, see our guide on Author Rights. For other questions, including UH copyright policy and fair use in the classroom, consult the UH Libraries' Copyright Team.

Scholarship builds on work that has come before. Sometimes this referential relationship requires not just citing prior work, but reproducing some portion of it for purposes like illustration, comparison, or critique. Instances of reproduction are allowable when:

  • The work being copied is in the public domain because its copyright protection has expired;
  • The work being copied is factual and not eligible for copyright protection;
  • The way the work is being used qualifies as fair use;
  • The copyright owner has granted permission for the work to be used, either for a specific use, or generally through a Creative Commons license or similar tool.

Authors typically start out as the sole copyright owners of the articles, books, and software they write, and, as such, they have broad control over their work. But when authors publish, they are usually asked to give away some of their rights to the publisher. Sometimes they are asked to transfer copyright ownership altogether.

The terms you agreed to with your publisher control what you can do with your work. These rights vary widely from publisher to publisher. If you no longer have your publication agreement, you can search the SHERPA/RoMEO database to see if your publisher is included, or you can contact the publisher directly.

Copyright and Theses/Dissertations

It is common for early researchers not to be offered formal copyright training as part of their professional development, making it difficult to understand what protections are applied to their scholarly works under the law. UH Libraries can help guide you through the fundamentals around copyright as it pertains to your dissertation work.

For in-depth assistance, please consult the reference guide below or contact Taylor Davis-Van Atta with your questions.

UH Libraries' Copyright Team

UH Libraries has a dedicated team who can field your copyright questions, whether related to your publication, use of another person's work, or use of copyrighted materials in the classroom. Contact the Copyright Team.