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UC Berkeley School of Law Library UC Berkeley School of Law Library BerkeleyLaw Library

Student Journals: Author Copyright Agreements

Author Agreements Explained

Author Agreements (updated Spring 2021) can be found in the Forms Library > Publishing and Production tab

An author holds the copyright to his/her journal article.  In order to be published in a Berkeley Law journal the author must either:
     Transfer the copyright to the Regents of the University of California (Author Assignment Agreement, or simply, Author Agreement)
     Grant a non-exclusive license to the UC Regents to print the article (Author Licensing Agreement)

One of the above Author Agreements above must be in place for every author prior to an article being published!

Berkeley Law journals use three types of copyright agreements*:

  1. Author Assignment Agreement (also referred to as Author Agreement)
  2. Online Author Assignment Agreement
  3. Author Licensing Agreement

(*there are special versions of Author Agreements for speech transcriptions, and Speaker Consent and Release Forms- contact the Journal Administrator)

Each version specifies the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both the author and journal.  An agreement must be in place for each author included in an issue before the issue can be published.

Agreements also specify the number of complimentary author offprints and copies of the issue the journal provides. As a journal might have different offers based upon it being a student issue, book review, etc, a journal might have multiple versions of an author agreement.

If an author requests any material changes to any one of our agreements, contact the Journal Administrator immediately.  Depending upon the nature and extent of the requested changes, the agreements may require review by the campus Business Contracts Office, which could delay the process.

No changes can be made to the Author Indemnification Clause, in which the authors must warrant that their article does not infringe on another party’s copyright.  As the University did not write the article (and is therefore an act not under the control of the University) the University will not assume financial liability for defending an allegation of copyright infringement.  The author’s indemnification clause mitigates this financial risk for the University.

Author Assignment Agreement (also referred to as Author Agreement)

With the Author Assignment Agreement  the author assigns (transfers) the copyright of his/her article to the UC Regents.  This is the default agreement for most journals (the exception being the Berkeley Technology Journal), unless an author specifically requests to retain his/her copyright.

The Author Assignment Agreement has been designed as a unilateral agreement; so long as the author makes no changes to the agreement terms, University counter-signature is not required. 

Online-Only Author Assignment Agreement

This agreement is used for those journals with online-only issues as well as journals with supplemental online companions.

The sole difference from the Author Assignment Agreement is that as these are not printed publications and as such, this version of the agreement eliminates the offer of offprints and journal issues for authors.

Author Licensing Agreements

With the Author Licensing Agreement, the author retains the copyright to his/her article and licenses its non-exclusive use to the UC Regents. 

This agreement is the default for the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, but can be used by other journals if an author specifically requests to retain the copyright.

Unlike the Assignment Agreement, the Licensing Agreement is not unilateral, and must be countersigned by the University’s Business Contracts Officer after having been signed by the author.  The Journal Administrator facilitates obtaining the countersignature on behalf of the journals. 

If an author opts to retain the copyright, the journal must indicate this in the dagger footnote on the first page of the article, “Copyright © 20XX held by (author’s name).”  This allows one to easily recognize the deviation from the default of the copyright being held by the UC Regents.

Author Agreement Process

  • Determine which of the 3 copyright agreements should be used.
    Make sure to note if the author to whom your sending it has a different offprint offer than your journal’s default, and if so, use the appropriate version.
  • Using your journal’s template (found on the Forms Library > Publishing and Production tab) prior to forwarding it to an author for signature, you must customize an agreement for each author, editing the author name, article title, and volume, issue and year of publication corresponding with the Volume (NOT necessarily the year you're sending out the Agreement, nor in production)
  • For articles with more than one author, each author must sign an agreement.
  • Email the Agreement to the author, incorporating the suggested cover letter text into your cover letter or body of your email.
  • Once received back from the author, email the pdf of each agreement to the Journal Administrator (please make sure that both pages of the signed agreement are included).
  • Licensing Agreements will be forwarded for countersignature to Business Contracts, then returned to you to forward the fully executed agreement to the author.

Samples of Author Agreements

Journal-specific author agreements can be found on the Forms Library tab.  Samples of each of our 3 agreements can be found below.

 

Author Indemnification Clause

If an author contacts you wanting to make ANY changes to the default Author Agreement, contact the Journal Administrator immediately to discuss.

While simple changes to agreements, such as eliminating fees for reprint permission requests, and other revisions can be negotiated, no changes can be made to the author’s indemnification clause.  As explained by the campus Business Contracts Office, “indemnification means that one party agrees to protect the other party from financial loss that might arise out of the agreement, based on a claim or demand by someone who isn’t part of the agreement (a third party).” 

 As this relates to the Journal the author must warrant is that his/her article does not infringe on another party’s copyright.  As the University did not write the article (and is therefore an act not under the control of the University) the University will not assume financial liability for defending an allegation of copyright infringement.  The author’s indemnification clause mitigates this financial risk for the University

Author Agreement cover letter text

When emailing the author copyright agreement to the author, please incorporate the suggested cover letter text.

  • Provides the author with information about the agreement
  • Includes verbiage indicating that the journal may post content on the open access BerkeleyLaw Scholarship Repository

A word document of this text can be found on the Publishing and Productions tab of the Forms Library.

Dear AUTHOR,

 The JOURNAL is pleased to publish your article entitled Article Title. To protect the University, as the publisher, and you, as the author, from unauthorized use of your article, we consider it essential to have the attached agreement signed and dated by you and returned as is listed below.

 If you make material changes to the attached agreement, subsequent review will be required by the University’s Business Contracts Office.  This additional review may considerably delay the approval of your agreement, and may affect the publication of your article.

 The JOURNAL  is hosted on Digital Commons, a software service that enables the journal to manage, display, and publish legal scholarship. By hosting your article on this journal platform, researchers will be able to locate your scholarship using major search engines like Google and Google Scholar and gain access free of charge. 

 If you have any questions or concerns regarding the attached agreement, please contact JOURNAL EDITOR, at EMAIL ADDRESS.  Otherwise, please scan and email a pdf, or mail the signed and dated agreement directly to the JOURNAL office at the address indicated on the signature page of the agreement.

 Thank you,