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Frequently asked questions

Where can I learn more about the UC Open Access Policies?

Why would I want to register my copyright?

How do I put a copyright notice on my work?

How can I put a work in the public domain?

What is the copyright status of charts, tables and graphs created from data?

Someone has contacted me asking for permission to use my article (or book chapter, or other work). What do I do?

What can I do if I find my work being distributed online without my permission?

How do I make sure my rights are protected when I sign a publishing agreement?


Where can I learn more about the UC Open Access Policies?

The University of California’s Office of Scholarly Communication has information on the policies, depositing your work into UC’s eScholarship repository, and obtaining a waiver, embargo, or addendum.

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Why would I want to register my copyright?

Although copyright ownership in a work attaches at the moment of creation and is not lost for failure to register, a prerequisite to a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement is registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. Thus, you could register a copyright after an infringement has occurred, but you may not obtain either statutory (as opposed to actual) damages or attorneys' fees if the registration was not made within three months of the first publication of the work (sections 411 and 412 of the US Copyright Law).

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How do I put a copyright notice on my work?

A copyright notice is an identifier placed on a work to inform the world of copyright ownership. All publications, multimedia, Web pages, and software should bear a clear, standard copyright notice in a prominent location. If the copyright owner is an entity such as The Regents of the University of California, acknowledgment of the owners may be included under the copyright notice. A copyright notice must contain either the word "Copyright," the abbreviation "Copr.," or the symbol "©." Although not required, you can include both the word "Copyright" and the symbol. The word or symbol is followed by the year of first publication and then the name of the copyright owner.

The standard form for a copyright notice on works belonging to the University is:

Copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of California 
All Rights Reserved

OR

Copyright © 2014 The Regents of the University of California 
All Rights Reserved 
Created by John Smith and Mary Doe 
Department of Statistics

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How can I put a work in the public domain?

Since copyright attaches automatically upon the creation of an original work that is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, copyright protection is automatic. Consequently, if you want others to have free use of your work, you can either make it clear, preferably in the work itself, that you do not assert any copyright ownership and waive any copyright interest, or you can retain copyright ownership but grant a non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully-paid up license to another person to use, reproduce, modify, and prepare derivative works based upon the original work. The Creative Commons provides further explanation and examples of different types of licenses. For computer software, the Open Source Initiative has posted sample "open source" software license agreements.

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What is the copyright status of charts, tables and graphs created from data?

While data and facts are not eligible for copyright, it is possible for the visual display of data – in graphic design or artistic rendering – to be copyrighted. Not all graphs and charts are eligible for copyright protection, though. See more information from the University of Michigan’s Copyright Office on Copyrightability of Charts, Tables, and Graphs.

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Someone has contacted me asking for permission to use my article (or book chapter, or other work). What do I do?

It’s best to be as specific as possible when granting permission for others to use your work. Think about exactly who, what, when, where, and how you are permitting your work to be used. Sometimes your work can be used without asking your permission, such as if the use meets the requirements of fair use.

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What can I do if I find my work being distributed online without my permission?

It is increasingly common to find infringing material on websites that share study materials for college courses. Most websites that allow users to upload materials include information on how to contact a DMCA agent. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows for the expeditious takedown of infringing materials. You will need to email the DMCA agent or other contact with certain required pieces of information, such as the URL where you found your work online and your contact information. This will often result in the removal of the material from the site. The UCLA library has provided a letter [Word Doc] that you can customize and send to the website to request that your material be removed.

For more information, see the National Press Photographers’ Association website, which goes into further detail about the requirements of this kind of takedown notice request. If you have received a takedown notice about posting an article you wrote, you can read more about responding to and preventing takedown notices at the Office of Scholarly Communication website.

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How do I make sure my rights are protected when I sign a publishing agreement?

First, read the contract carefully. If you authored a scholarly work such as an article, book, work of art, or piece of music, in the course of your teaching and research at UC, then by academic tradition and according to UC policy, you own the copyright. It is therefore up to you as an individual to manage the copyrights to your scholarly works. Many publication agreements ask for you to transfer copyright to a publisher. There are a few ways to work around this; don’t be afraid to ask for changes to the contract. You can transfer the copyright, but reserve certain rights such as the ability to use the work for your own teaching. You can also retain copyright and grant a license to the publisher to use your work for certain purposes.

More information on using an author addendum to a publication agreement can be found on the SPARC website.

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