Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM) 

Your Rights as an Author

Authors often have many questions about their copyrights for their works and how copyright issues affect their ability to deposit work in DRUM. There are two main issues with regards to author rights: the rights given to the University of Maryland and how granting rights to the University of Maryland affects agreements an author might make with other organizations (like publishers). Both of these issues are explained here.

What rights am I, as an author, giving to the University of Maryland?

The University of Maryland needs some rights to be granted by authors so that their works can be maintained in the repository. As an author, you never have to give another organization ALL of your copyrights for them to legally store and maintain your work. Recognizing that the University of Maryland needs to have authors approve a minimum level of rights transfer, the agreement used by DRUM only asks for non-exclusive rights to keep the work, preserve it, and make it available on the Web. The term "non-exclusive" means that when you deposit a work in DRUM, you retain all of the copyrights to your work. You can sign agreements with other organizations granting them the rights you have retained or you can use and enforce those rights yourself. Authors often have many questions about their copyrights for their works and how copyright issues affect their ability to deposit work in DRUM. You can read the rights transfer agreement DRUM uses.

How are past or future agreements with other publishers affected by DRUM deposit?

Author rights agreements are quite complex and vary tremendously from publisher to publisher. Some publishers ask authors to grant only very limited rights to their works, others ask for all rights for all time, and others fall somewhere between these extremes. Two situations will be discussed briefly here: where a work has been published already and where a work may be in DRUM and an author also wants to publish it elsewhere at a later date.

  • When your work has already been published

    The only way you can determine what rights you have retained to a work is to read the agreement you originally signed with your publisher. If you cannot find your copy of the agreement, you can request it from the publisher. Information on contacting a journal publisher is usually easily located by checking the journal's Web site. If you signed an agreement giving all rights to the work to the publisher (retaining none for yourself), you can contact the publisher and request permission to deposit the work into DRUM. A sample letter requesting deposit rights is available. Many publishers are inclined to maintain goodwill in their relationships with authors and readily grant such rights. Once permission has been received, you are free to deposit the work into DRUM.

  • When an author wants to publish a work that is deposited in DRUM

    As an author, you may also decide to deposit a manuscript for an article or other work and then subsequently have an opportunity to publish the same work in a different venue. Authors should note that an issue exists only if it is the same work being published, i.e., the same manuscript. From a copyright standpoint, an article manuscript is a different work from the deposited conference paper from which it has been developed and reworked, even though many of the ideas discussed are the same. The ideas are not copyrighted, the form of their expression is. Just as making the conference presentation does not preclude later publication, depositing the text or slides of the conference paper does not preclude later publication unless the text presented as a new publication is identical to the earlier work.

    Even if an author would like to submit a DRUM-deposited item for publication in a journal or elsewhere, it is quite possible that deposit in DRUM will not be a concern. Again, authors can discuss this issue with the particular publisher and should read any rights-transfer agreement carefully. Authors may not be aware that publishers often modify a standard agreement at an author's request. Many publishers' standard agreements allow deposit in institutional repositories or other open archives. If a publisher's standard agreement seems to preclude either prior or later deposit in DRUM, an author may be able to add wording to the agreement recognizing the existing deposit or allowing a future deposit.

Finding out more about author rights

Many resources are available for finding out more about author rights. A few key sites are listed here:

Still have questions?
General inquiries:, (301) 314-1328
DRUM Coordinator: Terry Owen,


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