Publishing conference presentations beyond an online journal?

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  • Hi:

    I'm assisting with publishing an online journal that will contain presentations being held at my campus. My question is: once the presentations have been published electronically, can the presenters then re-publish their presentations?

    Being new to something like this I'm not sure if it's a problem provided that my university does not take issue with it. Also, I've heard that many publishers have authors sign a copyright consent form that outlines their rights--is this something that I should consider doing? If so, does anyone have a sample of this kind of documentation?

    Many, many thanks for any thoughts, feedback, assistance, etc.

  • You are correct--this needs to be covered in an agreement between the journal and the presenter. The rights that the presenter retains and the rights they give to the journal should be outlined in writing. A Creative Commons license is a good option or many journals have their author agreements posted on their websites.
  • I think that the Creative Commons license, which is intended for use when publishing online and is a general waiver of copyright in certain described situations, is too blunt an instrument to use between only two parties -- the author and the institution that will subsequently do the online publishing -- where it is possible to allow for the specific use planned. My institution has prepared a simple "nonexclusive license to publish" that the author gives to the university. That license includes an acknowledgement that the material will be distributed online using a Creative Commons license. Because it is a non-exclusive license, it does not prevent the authors from re-publishing their work later. It also includes basic representations from the author that protect the institution, which are not included, because unnecessary, in a CC license.
  • Since you mention that the presentations took place at a campus, I am not sure whether the presenters are employees of the University, or whether they are guests of the University. The answer to this question could have some bearing on who owns the copyright to the presentations.

    Normally I would presume that the presenter/author owns the copyright to her/his own work, but in the case of Universities there is the possibility that the University is the copyright holder for their own employees' work. Usually, the employment contract or the bargaining agreement addresses who owns the rights for a faculty member's intellectual work. Are the presenters in question employees of the University and, if so, have you checked the language in the presenters' employment contract/bargaining agreement?

    If the presenter/author is indeed the rights holder, than s/he would have to give permission or rights to your organization to publish her/his work in the journal, as noted by LWilliamson. The presenter/author may allow publication in the journal, but also retain the right to publish elsewhere.

    If, however, the University is the rights holder, the author/presenter may not be free to republish the work elsewhere.

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