Authors may retain more rights over the distribution of their work than they commonly assume, including the right to distribute it to students and through open-access publications. Such rights can be negotiated with publishers, who themselves are changing their traditional copyright agreements in the face of rising costs, as well as opportunities created by digital technology. This site will provide access to resources on the new issues surrounding authors' rights.
The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an advocacy organization sponsored by academic libraries, has developed considerable resources to aid authors in retaining more rights over the distribution of their work. The organization addresses issues such as the ability to distribute work to classes and to place it in digital institutional repositories. Be sure to look at their "Author Addendum," a model for legal copyright agreements with publishers. The "SPARC-ACRL Forum on Authors' Rights" is an excellent introduction to the subject.
The ferment about scholarly communication is international in scope. SHERPA, a British-based organization, promotes en-access, including an online guide to the copyright policies of an international set of journals. Authors can review the copyright restrictions required by journals before submitting their manuscripts.
Another non-profit organization with international reach, Creative Commons helps authors of all types, from academics to artists, exert more copyright authority over their works, whatever their type or format. Both individuals and corporations have taken advantage of Creative Commons. Scientists should visit their special Science Commons.