This is one of a series of questions submitted by attendees of the Copyright, Common Mistakes and Myths Webinar and answered by Laura N. Gasaway, author of Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers.
Question: We are a nonprofit society that publishes a scientific journal. We require authors to transfer copyright of published papers to the society, but allow authors “to reprint or reuse your own original material without requesting permission.” Can we allow authors to post their articles on websites without purchasing a reprint, either digital or hard copy?
Answer: I congratulate your journal on permitting authors to use their own works! This makes authors very happy, and I am delighted to hear that your journal has taken this modern approach. Assuming that the transfer of copyright is for the entire copyright (and not just the right to reproduce and distribute the work in the journal), by granting back to the author you are granting permission to use the work as you dictate. As the copyright owner, the journal can include anything in the grant, including posting articles on the author’s own website. There is no need to require a reprint be purchased. The author already has a digital version that he or she submitted to the journal.
Pocket Copyright Guide for Publishers by Laura N. Gasaway and edited by Iris Hanney contains information vital to the publishing community.