Skip to main content

Copyright Resources to Support Publishing and Teaching

A guide for faculty, staff, and students at Penn about how to obtain, manage, and understand copyright issues for their work

Addtional resources

Can I post my publications to websites or re-use in other publications?

  • When your publish an article or book, you will need to sign a contract with the publisher which (usually) requires signing certain rights to the publisher

  • Unless you specifically retained the right to post materials to other websites or re-use for other purposes, you do not have the right to re-publish your publications.

  • If you would like to retain rights to your publications, there is an addendum - - which authors can attach to their publisher agreements.

Where can I go to learn more about what rights I have over previously published articles?

If in doubt about whether you may publish your scholarship online, go to SHERPA/RoMEO, an international listing of publisher copyright policies, entry provides a summary of the publisher's policy, including what version of an article can be published or archived, where it can be deposited, and any conditions that are attached to that deposit.

Using Sherpa/RoMEO

  • Go to
  • Type in the publisher or journal and see what color is assigned to that publisher. The color-coding differentiates among four categories of publishing (or archiving) rights:

RoMEO color

Archiving policy


can archive pre-print and post-print or publisher's version/PDF


can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing) or publisher's version/PDF


can archive pre-print (ie pre-refereeing)


archiving not formally supported

In the future, how can I ensure I retain rights?

  • You can always negotiate for further rights within your contract agreement with the publisher.
  • If you would like to retain rights to have maximum flexibility in your abiility to use your publication in teaching, public access, or other purposes, you can submit an authors' rights addendum - ( - which authors can attach to their publisher agreements.

Using copyrighted material in a publication

  • If you use copyrighted material (images, extensive quotation from other sources, or any other use that may exceed "fair use" - see "Copyright Basics" for more information on Fair Use), you must obtain permission to utilize that material in your publication.
  • For more information on how to obtain permission see "Obtaining Permission."

Are there alternatives to avoid copyright complications?

There are currently several initiatives that help authors to license and use content

  • Creative Commons - - is a tool that helps authors specify how they would like their work used.
  • Creative Commons also priovides a search tool - which searches Google to find images, music, or other materials authors may wish to use in their work.

What is "open access" publishing, and does Penn have guidelines?

"Open Access" publishing is, according to Peter Suber "digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions" (

The University of Pennsylvania's Faculty Senate endorsed a Statement of Principles on Open Access Publishing in September of 2011.

The Penn Libraries has several resources to help faculty with open access publishing including:

Need help?

For further assistance with copyright issues, you can begin with your subject specialist. You can also contact our Copyright Advisor for further referrals.

For questions about use of materials on reserve, contact Van Pelt Reserves or the librarian at your reserve location.