How to Assign Copyright

3 minute read

Authors don’t just submit to a conference to get reviewed – the core aim of many is to get their work published. Many conferences, especially the likes of a medical conference, tend to submit work to a Medical Journal for publishing after conference proceedings. In most cases, they need the author’s permission. But how do you get permission from an author to sign over something they have put so much into?

What’s needed is copyright disclaimer. Copyright is a form of intellectual property law. It gives the creator of the original work exclusive rights to the paper/product and protects any profits that may be gained from its sale. A disclaimer states the terms under which the work may be used and gives information relating to what the copyright owner believes to be a breach of his/her/their copyright.

There are two main ways to assign copyright if needed:

1) A Chair would make the copyright disclaimer available for download via the conference website, for example. The author would then have to download this file, print it out, sign it, scan and upload the signed file and send it back to the author. This can be tricky for the author to do. Simple things like not having a scanner could make things difficult. It is also time-consuming and not environmentally friendly.

2) If using an online system, a check-box can be provided. When the author agrees to sign over copyright, all they simply need to do is tick the box to agree. This is both efficient and very quick. The fact that it is done through an online system too also cuts down on the admin work of finding out who has and who hasn’t agreed to sign over copyright as it is all automated. There is no need for an Excel file.

The legal text you have surrounding copyright can also be tricky to get right. Major publishing houses usually have their own written copyright guidelines. For example, Springer publishers have their own copyright policies that conferences use (a sample copyright form can be found here). Similarly, large organisations such as IEEE have their own policies on how to transfer copyright. If you are only running a conference on a small scale but still need copyright, we have provided sample text that you could use:

By accepting to present at the conference you as first author agree the following:

A) Your name(s) and affiliation(s) will be used in connection with the abstract

B) The abstract you present is your work and you have the authority to submit the work

C) That you confirm having received the prior approval from the co-workers /co-authors to provide their data

D) You sign for all co-authors and accept responsibility for transferring copyright on behalf of any and all co-authors

E) The conference organising committee have permission to use the material in the conference material and Web Site Publication in this format does not contravene other copyright agreements

F) The conference does not withhold permission from the author or co-authors to reproduce all or part of this work in a different format and/or at a later date

So what if you want your work to be made public for people to use and share among others, but don’t want to give away full rights? Creative Commons allows users to use your work without being worried about infringements. You may see this on some publications written as “some rights reserved” as opposed to “all rights reserved”. While it is not a substitute for copyright, it is a useful tool to work in coherence with copyright. Find out more information on Creative Commons here.

Copyright can be a tricky. It can cause a lot of controversy if not treated properly. It is important to know how to use it correctly. So what are the difficulties that you have come across in relation to copyright? Please feel free to comment in the text box below!

Happy Conferencing!