What are copyrights?

The Law of Intellectual Property, in its article 5, defines author as the natural person who creates a literary, artistic or scientific work. The author, as creator of the work, holds two types of rights:

a) moral rights (personal nature):

  • right to decide if your work is to be disclosed and in what way
  • right to demand recognition of your copyright status
  • right to demand respect for the integrity of your work
  • right to modify the work
  • right to withdraw work from commerce

b) exploitation rights (economic nature):

  • reproduction right
  • distribution right
  • public communication right
  • transformation right

What are exploitation rights?

These are the economic rights that the Law of Intellectual Property grants to the author and that allow him to obtain an economic return for the use of his work. The Law specifically mentions the rights of reproduction, distribution, public communication and transformation, which are independent of each other and, therefore, may be subject to different treatments.

The exploitation rights belong exclusively to the author and are characterized by being transferable. That is, the author can assign all or part of these rights, or authorize the use of his work under certain conditions by third parties.

Can copyright be assigned?

Moral rights are inalienable and non-transferable, while exploitation rights may be assigned to third parties exclusively or without it. When the author signs a contract with an editor, it may be that he is giving up all or part of the exploitation rights of the work. It is important that the author knows, in these cases, what he is giving up with said assignment.

What does the transfer of copyright imply?

If it is an exclusive assignment, the author loses control over the dissemination of his work, having transferred these rights to the editor. Therefore, if the author wants to deposit a copy of his work in a repository, it is necessary to request permission from the editor.

The disadvantage that this assignment entails for the author, can be negotiated with the editor at the time of signing the contract by including an addendum in it in which the cases in which the author may disseminate his work are agreed. Generally, it will refer to the dissemination of work for personal or teaching use, or to its file in a repository.

However, if the assignment is partial, that is, if the author gives the publisher only some exploitation rights (for example, the reproduction and distribution rights), he will retain other rights that will allow him to make certain uses on his work.

Is there any alternative to the transfer of copyright?

Yes. Sometimes, what the author does is sign a non-exclusive use license authorizing the publisher to disseminate the work under certain conditions, but without any transfer of copyright. Therefore, when the author retains all rights, he will not need to obtain any authorization to make use of his work and may, for example, deposit it in a repository.

Another alternative is the use of Creative Commons or similar licenses, which allow the author to decide in what terms his works can be used. In addition to retaining all rights to the work, the author decides the uses allowed by third parties as long as the authorship is acknowledged. For more information, see the Creative Commons section.

Where can I check the policies of the publishers if I want to deposit my work in the repository?

Most scientific publishers publish their permit policies on their own websites. In addition, there are tools that collect and offer summaries of the policies of many publishers and scientific journals, in which you can check which version of the works (pre-print, post-print of the author or version of the editor) can be deposited in a repository.

Some of these tools are:
  • Sherpa/Romeo, which offers information from more than 2,500 international publishers
  • Dulcinea, to consult the policies of more than 1,500 Spanish journals
  • Héloïse, to consult the policies of French publishers
Another aspect that must be taken into account before uploading a job to a repository is if it is conditioned by some period of embargo established by the editor. The embargo refers to the period of time during which the publisher does not allow open dissemination of the work by third parties, counted from the date of publication.

In case of doubt, or if it has not been possible to locate the publisher's policy, it will be necessary to contact the publisher to obtain the information. If the exploitation rights had been transferred at the time of signing the contract with the publisher, it is possible to request an express authorization to file the work in a repository.

Can I upload a work that I have not yet published to the Repository?

Yes, it is possible to do so as long as ownership is maintained over exploitation rights. For this, during the self-archiving process, the author must, on the one hand, accept the non-exclusive license that is attributed to all the material deposited in the Repository. And on the other, you must authorize the use of your work under the terms of a Creative Commons license.

If I have already published my work, can I upload it to the Repository?

It will depend on the policy of the publisher with whom the publication contract has been signed and the conditions under which the exploitation rights have been assigned. Most publishers allow you to archive some version of the published works in repositories. To know the editorial policies in this regard, you can consult tools such as Sherpa/Romeo, Dulcinea o Héloïse.

You can also choose to contact the editor requesting authorization, if the file is not allowed.