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Adventures in Publishing Contracts

Some months back I received a contract from a Certain University Press for an article that I’ve got forthcoming in what’s going to be a super cool edited volume. I was a little taken aback, on reading the contract, to discover that I was being asked to sign over 100% of my copyright to the press, and that I was promising to refrain from doing anything with the article other than simply handing it over to them. No provisions for depositing a pre-print in an institutional repository, not even with an embargo. Nothing.

(Let us just say that the topic — heck, the title — of my article made this situation a little ironic.)

So with the support of the volume’s editors, I edited the agreement to add in the phrase “except as provided for in the attached addendum,” and then attached a version of the CIC Author’s Copyright Contract Addendum. And thought, well, we’ll see what happens.

I heard nothing for months, until today, when I received a revised contract from the Press. This contract:

1. Leaves all copyright with me. (Yay!)

2. Grants to the Press a license to publish the article in this volume, as well as to republish it in any derivative works, in all languages, in any media (“now or hereafter known”), throughout the world. (Perfectly fine with me. They could even have included the entirety of the universe, known and unknown, as a recent contract received by a friend of mine did.)

3. Says that I agree not to “license, publish, transmit, post (or permit the license, publication, transmission or posting)” of the article for a period of 1 year after publication without prior written permission, after which I can do whatever I want to with it.

And that’s the one I have a question about. Because as I read it, they’ve given me both more and less than I’ve asked for. The CIC agreement has a six-month embargo, rather than a year, it separates out uses of the text by the author’s home institution (for posting in an institutional repository, for instance) from general republishing, and retains for myself immediate and perpetual rights to use the article in any way I’d like in conjunction with my teaching, conference presentations, lectures, and the like.

On the other hand, all of those latter two uses seem subsumed within the fact that this version of the contract leaves all copyright with me, merely licensing it to the Press. The only thing I’m giving up is that additional six months of being able to republish it however I like.

So… I’m curious how you read this? Would you be willing to sign off on the contract now? Are there other issues I ought to consider here?


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