Contracts & licences

Entering a publisher’s contract

It’s wise to obtain legal advice before signing a contract with a publisher so that you are clear about what rights you are granting the publisher and whether you retain any rights, such as the right to include your work in a University repository, or to use excerpts from your work in later versions.

New licence models

The internet has enabled new models of scholarly communication, including self-publishing via the internet and alternatives to traditional publishing licences, where authors assigned most of their rights to a publisher.

The Open Access movement and Creative Commons licences provide opportunities to:

  • deal with publishers who allow you to retain some rights such as the right to copy material for colleagues, to reuse sections in a subsequent work or to place the work on an institutional or public archive
  • increase the amount of material available on the internet for others to use and build upon. Creative Commons has developed a number of licence templates, which you can use when releasing your work on the internet. Under the licences, a creator allows others to use their material for free with various levels of restriction. For details, see the Australian Creative Commons website.
  • publish the work yourself on the internet, without using a Creative Commons or similar licence. Remember to include a copyright statement and indicate any conditions you want to place on copying or use of the work.

See Oasis and SPARC for more information.


Uploading your research publications to Sydney eScholarship Repository

Hosted by the University of Sydney Library, Sydney eScholarship is a repository for research associated with the University of Sydney.

Many academic journal publishers have clauses in their publishing agreements which permit the author to deposit a copy of their work in an official University repository. You should confirm this before signing an agreement with a publisher.

Check the Sherpa Romeo or OAKList database websites for a listing of the copyright policies of journal publishers and their attitudes to self-archiving and the inclusion of pre-prints and post-prints on institutional archives.


Uploading your research publications to personal websites

Many publishers allow authors to upload copies of their publications to personal profiles or research pages hosted on University servers, to free public servers in your subject area or to your personal website.

Before uploading publications, note that:

  • licences apply equally to creators and anyone loading work on their behalf
  • you actually have the right to load your material onto a personal website - check with your publisher
  • your publisher may only permit you to upload certain versions of your publications, for example, a preprint or a post-refereed version rather than the final version. Remember that the use of these terms often varies from publisher to publisher
  • some publishers specify that access be restricted to internal use while others allow unlimited access by the general public
  • some publishers impose an embargo and will not permit you to post material on your website until a specified period of time has elapsed
  • further information is available on the OAKList Database, the Sherpa Romeo website, or journal websites


Giving permission for your lectures to be recorded

As a University employee or student making a guest lecture, you may want to allow your lecture to be recorded; you will be asked to complete this guest lecturer consent form, which also gives the copyright to the University.


Sydney Digital Theses

Sydney Digital Theses is an electronic archive of Sydney University research theses.

Lodging a copy of your thesis will provide secure archival storage and give it international exposure, as your work will be indexed by Google Scholar and other scholarly search services. You retain copyright in your thesis.

You must obtain written permission from the copyright owner of any third party material quoted in your thesis, because the fair dealing provisions do not extend to this purpose.


Membership of collecting societies

If you are commercially releasing work, consider becoming a member of the collecting society relevant to your industry. Collecting societies are part of worldwide networks that license the use of their members’ works and collect and distribute royalties on their behalf.

Relevant collecting societies are:

  • APRA/AMCOS - for composers of musical works and music publishers
  • CAL - for authors as well as book and journal publishers
  • Screenrights - for rights holders in films, television and audiovisual works
  • Viscopy - for visual artists