How to select an Author Addendum?

Many non-OA publishers still require authors to transfer copyright upon acceptance of an article for publication. Some permit authors to retain the right to self-archive their articles in an OA repository (Green OA), and some do not. A way of dealing with those publishers who don’t currently have policies that permit Green OA is to add an Author Addendum to the publisher’s existing publication agreement.

I’m one of those non-experts on copyright who has been wary about adding an addendum to publication agreements. Why? Mainly, because it’s unfamiliar territory. There’s probably legal quicksand there somewhere, and I won’t realize it’s there until I’ve fallen into it. In particular, which addendum to select? And, where to obtain credible advice?

Many sources of advice are available. For example, Heather Morrison, in a message sent on Feb. 21, 2007 to the AmSci OA Forum, recommended an Author’s Agreement [PDF] that’s available via the College & Research Libraries News section of the website of the American Library Association. Heather likes this model “because of the support for authors’ rights, but also because of the clarity and brevity“. The first two (of three) paragraphs of the agreement:

1. In consideration of the Publisher’s agreement to publish the Work, Author hereby grants and assigns to Publisher the right to print, publish, reproduce, or distribute the Work throughout the world in all means of expression by any method now known or hereafter developed, including electronic format, and to market or sell the Work or any part of it as it sees fit. Author further grants Publisher the right to use Author’s name in association with the Work in published form and in advertising and promotional materials. Copyright of the Work remains in Author’s name.

2. Author agrees not to publish the Work in print form prior to publication of the Work by the Publisher. [ALA requests that should you publish the Work elsewhere, you cite the publication in ALA’s Publication, by author, title, and publisher, through a tagline, author bibliography, or similar means.]

Thus, the author retains copyright, but only agrees not to publish the work in print form prior to publication by the publisher. All other rights are retained by the author (so, Green OA is permitted).

Next, I followed up on an item posted in Peter Suber’s OA News blog on April 12, 2007: OA law program spreads to Canada. This item led me to an item, Open Access Law Canada, posted in Michael Geist’s blog on April 11, 2007. This item, in turn, led me to a webpage for the The University of Ottawa Law and Technology Journal (UOLTJ). The Copyright section provides access to the UOLTJ Publication agreement and copyright licence [PDF]. Section 1.2 of this legal-language document is interesting:

1.2. In addition to the nonexclusive rights granted above, the UOLTJ shall have the exclusive right to publish the Article in the UOLTJ, in print or electronic form, for a period beginning when this Agreement is executed and ending twelve (12) months after publication of the Article in the UOLTJ. During this period of exclusivity, the UOLTJ expressly consents herein that the author may publish the Article on the author’s own website or the SSRN or similar scholarly forum that publishes working draft versions of academic papers, providing that the author indicates, on or in association with the first page of the article, that the article is scheduled for publication, or has been published, in the UOLTJ. The Author agrees not to publish the Article, or any substantially similar article, in any other location until the expiry of the exclusivity period.

Not only does this agreement permit Green OA, but, after a year, all rights are retained by the author.

A Google HTML version of the licence is also available.

Access to the PDF version of this same licence is also available via the Licences page of Open Access Law Canada. This program is part of the Science Commons Scholar’s Copyright Project, which provides access to Creative Commons Licenses and to the very interesting Science Commons Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine. An excerpt from the latter webpage:

Using a simple Web form, authors choose the rights they want to retain and enter basic information like the name of the publisher and the title of the article. The Addendum Engine then generates a completed PDF copy of a one-page standard addendum allowing them to retain rights over the work that would otherwise be wholly forfeited.

“Immediate Access”, “Delayed Access” (6-month embargo), “Access-Reuse” and “MIT Amendment” options are available. The latter is an addendum specifically intended for use by MIT authors. An excerpt:

b. Once the Article has been published by Publisher, the Author shall also have all the non-exclusive rights necessary to make, or to authorize others to make, the final published version of the Article available in digital form over the Internet, including but not limited to a website under the control of the Author or the Author’s employer or through any digital repository, such as MIT’s DSpace or the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database.

Green OA in various kinds of repositories is permitted. With minor modifications, the MIT Amendment could easily be adapted for use by authors based at other institutions.

The SPARC Author Addendum [PDF] is an example of the Access-Reuse Addendum option (see above, the Addendum Engine) approach to Green OA.

Institutions other than MIT have adopted amendments. An example is provided by the University of Michigan Author’s Addendum, [PDF]. Excerpts from the addendum:

3. Repositories. The Author shall retain the right to deposit the published version of the Article in an open-access digital repository maintained by the Author’s employing institution, such as University of Michigan’s “Deep Blue”, by an academic consortium to which the employing institution belongs, such as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), by a non-profit scholarly society, and/or by a governmental funding agency. At the Publisher’s written request, open access to the Article may be delayed for a period not to exceed 12 months from the date of publication.

4. Personal Website. The Author shall retain the right to post the published version of the Article on the Author’s personal website.

Various routes to Green OA are identified and permitted.

For another recent example, see: FAQ on Minnesota’s author addendum, posted by Peter Suber to OA News on June 19, 2007. A CIC Author Addendum [PDF] was adopted on May 3, 2007 by the University of Minnesota. It’s a delayed access addendum. The relevant excerpt:

2. After a period of six(6) months from the date of publication of the article, the Author shall also have all the non-exclusive rights necessary to make, or to authorize others to make, the final published version of the Article available in digital form over the Internet, including but not limited to a website under the control of the Author or the Author’s employer or through digital repositories including, but not limited to, those maintained by CIC institutions, scholarly societies or funding agencies.

So, Green OA (to the final published version) in various types of repositories is permitted, after a 6-month embargo. Perhaps non-OA publishers may be much more willing to accept an addendum that permits Green OA in such a wide variety of repositories if there’s a 6-month embargo?

What about an example of a licence that’s based on the perspective of a journal publisher? Learned Publishing is the journal of the Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP), published in collaboration with the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). The ALPSP Licence to Publish [PDF] allows authors to retain copyright. An excerpt:

Copyright remains yours, and we will acknowledge this in the copyright line which appears on your article. However, you authorise us to act on your behalf to defend your copyright if anyone should infringe it, and to retain half of any damages awarded, after deducting our costs. You also retain the right to use your own article as follows (provided you acknowledge the published original in standard bibliographic citation form), as long as you do not sell it in ways which would conflict directly with our commercial business interests. You are free to use your article for the internal educational or other purposes of your own institution or company; you may mount the pre -publication version (after peer review, but not the published article/PDF) on your own or your institution’s website and post it to free public servers of preprints and/or articles in your subject area; or you may use it, in whole or in part, as the basis for your own further publications or spoken presentations.

This licence permits Green OA to the final pre-publication version (after peer review), with no embargo.

The examples described above provide a range of options. Similarly, if one browses the Green publishers segment of the SHERPA/RoMEO database, it quickly becomes apparent how much policies related to Green OA vary among different publishers. However, the main relevant variables are also highlighted. They include: a) where the publication may be self-archived (e.g. personal website, subject-based or institutional repositories); b) which version may be self-archived (e.g. pre-refereeing preprint, author’s own version of final article, publisher’s version/PDF); c) duration of any post-publication embargo (e.g. none, 6 months, 12 months); d) whether authors may retain copyright (and transfer to the publisher only specified aspects of a bundle of rights, for a specified period). The number of possible permutations and combinations of these variables is quite large.

The question remains: how to select an appropriate Author Addendum? Obviously, it must be one that both the journal publisher and the author(s) will accept. Negotiation with the publisher is required. Negotiations are probably pointless unless authors are willing to change publishers if the negotiations are unsuccessful. I know of no source of information about which particular non-OA publishers have a track record of refusing to accept an Author Addendum (such as, for example, the MIT Amendment).

Is it likely that negotiations among publishers, individual authors, institutions and funding agencies, will soon lead to convergence, so that the number of options is minimized? Perhaps not soon. Publishers of journals that currently enjoy high impact factors, and also have low acceptance rates, are likely to resist any changes as vigorously as is possible without losing credibility. Publishers that are actively attempting to increase the impact factors of their journals, and also the number of submissions, may be more willing to propose or accept changes. Evolution seems inevitable, but it may be slow.



  1. heathermorrison said

    Thanks for this information, Jim – many really good options for authors.

    It is probably worthwhile at least asking about an addendum, even if a publisher is not likely to agree. This helps publishers to understand the demand. Perhaps it is all the individuals asking about this that inspired the ALPSP license to publish?

  2. petersuber said

    Hi Jim: For more on the CIC and SPARC addenda, see the lead article in the June 2007 issue of SOAN.


  3. tillje said

    I’ve prepared and self-archived an extremely basic Author’s Addendum. It consists of an initial pair of paragraphs which state the purpose of the Addendum and provide a justification for its use. These paragraphs are based on the first page of the University of Michigan (UM) Author’s Addendum.

    The Basic Author’s Addendum lists only two terms:

    1. Personal Website. The Author shall retain the right to post the Author’s final submitted version of the Article on the Author’s personal website or blog.

    2. For record keeping purposes, Author requests that Publisher sign a copy of this Addendum and return it to Author. However, if Publisher publishes the Article in the journal or in any other form without signing a copy of this Addendum, such publication manifests Publisher’s assent to the terms of this Addendum.

    Term #1 is based on Term #4 in the same UM Author’s Addendum, but the words or blog have been added.

    Term #2 is based on Term #7 in the SPARC Author Addendum 3.0.

    This Basic Author’s Addendum is intended for use in negotiations with those publishers who currently have no access policy, and will only agree to accept these two terms.

  4. tillje said

    Peter Suber has posted a news item, An author addendum for Canadian scholars (OA News, 15 August 2007) about a press release, CARL and SPARC offer Canadian Authors new tool to widen access to published articles, posted by Jennifer McLennan
    to the SPARC-OA Forum on 15 August 2007. An excerpt:

    Traditional publishing agreements often require that authors grant exclusive rights to the publisher. The new SPARC Canadian Author Addendum enables authors to secure a more balanced agreement by retaining select rights, such as the rights to reproduce, reuse, and publicly present the articles they publish for non-commercial purposes. It will help Canadian researchers to comply with granting council public access policies, such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Policy on Access to Research Outputs. The Canadian Addendum reflects Canadian copyright law and is an adaptation of the original U.S. version of the SPARC Author Addendum.

  5. tillje said

    The importance of inclusion, in an Author Addendum, of a clause designed to make it clear that publication of the article will be construed as acceptance of the terms in the Addendum, has been highlighted in this blog post:

    WU Amendment to Publication Agreement Revised, by Cathy Sarli, Scholarly Communications Update, Bernard Becker Medical Library, Washington University School of Medicine, October 9, 2007. Excerpts:

    The WU Amendment to Publication Agreement now includes a clause that addresses the issue of what authors should do if a publisher does not return a signed copy of the agreement. With the revised WU Amendment, publication of the article by the publisher will be deemed as acceptance of the terms of the WU Amendment by the publisher. The new clause reads in Paragraph 6 as follows:

    “In the absence of Publisher’s signature on this Amendment, Publication of the Article by the Publisher will be deemed acceptance of the terms of this Amendment by the Publisher.”

    My thanks to Peter Suber, Washington U revises its author addendum, Open Access News, Octobe 10, 2007, for a news item about this WU Amendment.

  6. tillje said

    A message, Re: On Paid Gold OA, Central Repositories, and “Re-Use” Rights, by Robert Kiley of the Wellcome Library, was sent to the American Scientist Open Access Forum on 10 Oct. 2007. Excerpt:

    If we are going to enjoy the benefits of text mining, semantic web etc (which may result in the creation of derivative works) then it is essential that articles are licensed in ways which explicitly allows re-use.

    So, if possible, an Author Addendum should contain clauses designed to ensure that self-archived full texts are not only free to read, but also free to re-use.

    As noted elsewhere in the blog (on Sept. 18, 2007), free access isn’t the same as open access. OA involves not only removal of cost barriers, but also (to the greatest extent possible) removal of permission barriers.

  7. tillje said

    Authors (including ones who choose to publish in “Open Access” journals), should also be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of the various Creative Commons Licenses. For a discussion of some of the relevant issues, see: When Is Open Access Not Open Access?, an editorial by Catriona J. MacCallum in PLoS Biol 2007; 5(10): e285, and also the responses to this editorial.

    Note added November 4, 2007:

    For a (sophisticated) discussion of definitions of OA, and uses of Creative Commons (CC) licenses, see: OA and derivative works, continued, by Peter Suber, Open Access News, November 4, 2007. The bottom line: he usually recommends use of the CC-BY license.

  8. tillje said

    See also:
    Details of Revised NIH Public Access Policy Published
    , posted to
    MIT Libraries News by Ellen Duranceau, January 15, 2008. Excerpts:

    The NIH suggests some possible language that can be used to modify a publisher’s agreement: “Journal acknowledges that Author retains the right to provide a copy of the final manuscript to the NIH upon acceptance for Journal publication, for public archiving in PubMed Central as soon as possible but no later than 12 months after publication by Journal.”

    MIT offers authors an amendment to publisher agreements that was developed to support MIT authors who wanted to comply with the original NIH policy. The amendment language allows authors to comply with the revised policy as well.

  9. tillje said

    See also:
    SURF-JISC Licence to Publish (October 2006).

    Traditional academic publishers support current open access repository principles, says report, KnowledgeSpeak (04 Mar 2008).

  10. tillje said

    For post about a Creative Commons License for a blog, see: Changing license to CC-BY, Stian, Random Stuff That Matters, September 23rd, 2007.

  11. tillje said

    See also: Model publishing agreement from BioOne, Peter Suber, Open Access News, April 8, 2008. About a news release, BioOne Releases New Model Publication Agreement, dated April 7, 2008.

    The Publication Agreement is freely available on the BioOne website at

    An Informational Sheet, (updated March 2008) is also available about the Publication Agreement.

    An excerpt from page 3 of 3 of the Informational Sheet, in Section 2, “Length of Exclusivity Period“:

    We recommend that the length of the exclusivity period be set at the shortest possible increment that will not jeopardize subscriptions. In some subfields of the biological sciences (e.g., biomedicine, biochemistry), we believe that a period as short as six months poses no significant threat. In others, especially those fields with long citation half-lives, a period of twelve months may be more appropriate.

  12. tillje said

    Heather Morrison has posted An Author’s Letter to Go with the Addendum (posted April 20, 2008). The letter can easily be modified for use in a variety of situations.

  13. Jim Till said

    See also: OAD list of author addenda, Peter Suber, Open Access News, November 1, 2008. Excerpt:

    The Open Access Directory (OAD) just opened a list of Author addenda


  14. Jim Till said

    A relevant blog post: Addenda and power relations, Dorothea Salo, Caveat Lector, December 9, 2008. Excerpt:

    … it’s worth noting that author addenda put publishers in the uneasy position of saying “no” to authors, even refusing to publish an article, over something that is palpably unrelated to the article’s quality. Given publishers’ highminded avowals of existing purely for the furtherance of quality scholarship, I think the cognitive dissonance created in authors’ minds by addendum refusal is probably a good and useful thing… even though addenda themselves have proven to be weak sauce in the rubber-meets-road sense of literature hitting the Web. One more evidence of shifting power relations…

    The full text of this blog post provides a brief summary of an interesting case study on Authors’ Addenda.

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