Copyright and publishing

The right to publish is one of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner. It is important that you understand your rights as well as respecting the rights of third party copyright owners when publishing.

Publishing your work

It is common for commercial publishers to request that you assign your copyright to them. If you agree to this then you are giving them all of your rights as the copyright owner and you will no longer have to the right to copy, perform, communicate or adapt your own work. Carefully read any publishing agreement and understand the implications before you sign, if you are unhappy with the agreement then negotiate to keep some or all of your rights.


If you wish to keep all your rights then offer your publisher a licence to publish the work instead of assigning them the copyright. Many, but not all, Open Access journals have standard publishing agreements that will allow you to keep your copyright. If the publisher insists on an assignment then supplement the agreement with an amendment that specifies what rights you will maintain over the work. An example of an addendum can be found at the Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine, this allows you to input the publication details and generate a pdf document to attach to a publishing agreement.

For more information view the Your rights as an Author (May 2017) PowerPoint presentation with notes.

Your rights as an author (PPTX 2MB)  

Using third party copyright material

While there are exceptions in the Copyright Act that allow you to use third party copyright material for a variety of purposes these provisions do not generally extend to publishing. In particular the fair dealing provision for research and study along with the statutory licences for educational purposes cannot be relied on. Depending on how you use the material you may be able to use another fair dealing provisions, e.g. for criticism or review, otherwise you will have to seek permission when using more than an insubstantial portion of another person's work. This would include such instances as reproducing an image or quoting substantial amounts of text within your work.

Flinders University theses

The University rules require that doctoral and masters theses are made available online unless a case has been made to restrict access. This is considered to be a communication to the public which is one of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner therefore the above information relating to using third party copyright also applies to theses. While it may be acceptable to use third party material in the examined version of your thesis this material will need to be removed from the public version unless another provision in the Copyright Act supports its use or permission has been granted. For more information and permission templates visit the guide for Digital Thesis Submission.

Copyright notice

The copyright notice is commonly attached to both physical and electronic copyright material. While it is not necessary to include a copyright notice on your work it can beneficial as it reminds people that the work is subject to copyright and clearly identifies the copyright owner.

There are no set words but it is common for the short form of the notice to include the copyright symbol, the name of the copyright owner and the date of first publication. For example:

© Flinders University 2015.

A longer form of the notice may include words similar to the following:

This work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process, nor may any other exclusive rights be exercised, without the permission of Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia, 2015.