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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Copyright Protection - Managing Creator Rights


In this section we will discuss the different aspects of the relationship between the author and publisher whether for book or article purposes.

The terms listed on this page are commonly used in agreements between authors and publishers.

Important Publishing Clauses

Grant of Rights

  • The "grant of rights" portion of the agreement is where authors give either all of their rights or some of their rights to the publisher. The section lays out how long the publisher has these rights, which format or formats the publisher is responsible for, languages it can publish, and where in the world the publisher can publish the work.

Subsidiary Rights

  • Subsidiary rights are rights that the publisher can sublicense to other parties or 3rd parties. These would rights like translations or adaptations.

Copyright Registration

  • It depends on which group wants to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office, whether it is the publishing group or the author. While either can register, there can only be one name on the registration form

Copyright Enforcement

  • This can be tricky and difficult to navigate. Many authors of articles or books/book chapters feel that he or she has retained the right to enforce the copyright to their work. In some circumstances it might be the case, however, it is better to ensure this is spelled out in the agreement rather than simply assuming. 

Specific Boilerplate Language


  • Warranties are promises that either party makes to the other. "Publishers usually want a warranty that the author is the copyright owner of the content. If not, the group could be acquiring content without permissions from the copyright holder and subject to an infringement suit" (


  • Indemnities are the financial side of warranties. If the warranty, or promise that the protected work is owned by the author, proves to be incorrect then the author is liable to pay any legal costs. 

Governing Law

  • If a dispute comes up, between the author and publisher, the governing law will decide where they will go to settle the dispute. The location could be in the publisher's jurisdiction, where the publisher is familiar with the laws, or could be in the author's jurisdiction, where the author is familiar with the laws. 


The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information for resolving copyright questions. This research guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.

Compensation Options

If a publisher provides compensation to authors, the list below notes common options.


  • Royalties are different methods of compensation made to the author. It is important that the agreement discusses Royalties because it will state who has which economic rights, how the project will be published in the future, and how the author will get paid for their work. 


  • Advances against Royalties is when a publisher offers payment for book prior to publication. This could be done as a way to provide motivation to the author.
  • Advances could be broken down into prior to publication, some after a portion of the book, and then again after it has been completed. Or a portion of the payment will be given after a certain percentage of the titles have sold. 


  • Other types of compensation or payment can be discussed as well. 
  • Works made for hire might offer a certain amount for ALL of the rights
  • Author may just get a flat fee or a free copy of the book on publication.
  • If an author wants to publish in an Open Access journal, there will be Author Publishing Charges or APCs that the author will need to pay.
  • If an author wants to publish in a subscription based journal, be aware that there might be certain rights authors will no longer have that there will not be any compensation.