Copyright for Authors

What copyrights do authors have?

Copyright law grants authors a "bundle" or set of rights for use of their own works. These include:

  1. Right to reproduce their work
  2. Right to prepare derivative work, such as a book chapter or based on the protected work
  3. Right to distribute copies of work to the public including the right to sell or otherwise distribute the work
  4. Right to display the work publicly
  5. Right to perform the work publicly, such as a piece of music or choreography

Cal Poly policy defines faculty copyright ownership

According to Cal Poly Intellectual Property policy, faculty own copyright to the scholarly and creative publications they develop. For more information on your rights as a faculty member, see the Cal Poly Intellectual Property Policy.

Students own copyrights to their work.

Student work at Cal Poly, including Masters Theses and Senior Projects, are automatically protected as soon as they appear in a tangible form. They do not have to be registered through the U.S. Copyright Office to be copyright protected. However, if you want to register the copyright, the procedure and forms are all on the U.S. Copyright Office web site. For more information on copyright and Senior Projects, review the Senior Project Information Packet.

Copyrights can be transferred

With a written and signed transfer agreement, authors can reassign copyright of their work to another party. Academic authors are frequently asked to transfer copyrights to publishers. By transferring copyright to the publisher, you might be signing away your right to distribute copies of your work in your classroom, reuse your article in later works, or post your work on your personal website or other online location.

You can retain copyright to published work

By utilizing an Author Addendum, you can retain your copyrights while still fulfilling your goal of publishing. An Author Addendum is a legal instrument that modifies the publisher's agreement and allows for you to keep key rights to your articles. Enter basic information about your article and a printable addendum is generated that you can attach to your publishing agreement in one easy step. The Author Addendum is a free resource available at

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