Author Addenda

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Peter B. Hirtle:

"When an author publishes a book or a paper, many publishers ask the author to transfer all copyrights in the work to the publisher. But that is not always to the author's advantage.

Until recently, the primary method that authors could use to retain some rights in their writings was to rewrite the contract with the publishers themselves. Thanks to the development of standardized author addenda, the task has become much simpler. An author's addendum is a standardized legal instrument that modifies the publisher's agreement and allows the author to keep key rights." (


Peter B. Hirtle:

"The addenda usually spells out what rights the author does or does not have in several key areas:

  • The extent of the author's ability to continue to use the copyrighted work even after the transfer of copyright to a publisher, including the ability of the author to make copies of the work or prepare new works based on the copyrighted work.
  • The author's ability to authorize others to use the work.
  • Whether and when the author's institution can make any use of the work.
  • Whether and when the author's funding agency can make use of the work.
  • When and under what circumstances, if any, people at other institutions can use the work.
  • What legal protections are available to the author.

Three different organizations – MIT , Science Commons (through its Scholar's Copyright project), and SPARC – have worked with lawyers to develop self-sufficient addenda that address these issues. These addenda can be attached to the publishing contracts received by publishers and are likely to be legally binding." (

Status Report 2007

Peter Suber:

"The number of author addenda more than trebled in 2006, but they were all suggestions waiting for adopters. In 2007, universities started adopting them. (Author addenda are lawyer-written contract provisions to supplement a publisher's standard contract, allowing authors to retain the rights they need to authorize OA.) The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) wrote its own author addendum and then asked its 12 member institutions to adopt it. At least three did so: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of Minnesota.

SPARC and Science Commons consolidated their author addenda and launched an online tool to help authors choose and implement an addendum. SPARC and CARL produced a Canadian version of the SPARC author addendum. Washington University revised its author addendum to make clear that when authors submit it to a journal, and the journal publishes the underlying article, the publisher will be deemed to have accepted the terms of the addendum." (;view=text;rgn=main;idno=3336451.0011.110)

More Information

The five addenda are listed and compared at