Navigating the Copyright Waters

Find out more about your rights as an author and what it all means from copyright to permissions.
Navigating the Copyright Waters

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What is Copyright anyway?

According to the US Copyright Office “Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression.”1 Essentially, copyright protects intellectual property. Whomever owns the copyright can use and distribute the property. In the case of scholarly publishing, the intellectual property is an article, in full or by element (figure, table, etc).

Copyright ownership

Even though you wrote and edited your manuscript, did you know that once you submit it to a journal for publication and the journal accepts your paper, you don’t own the copyright? One exception to this rule is when you publish a manuscript via Open Access. So, what does this mean for you if you want to reuse your work? To understand your rights, read the copyright transfer agreement (CTA). The CTA is distributed by either the journal's editorial office upon submission or by the publisher upon acceptance for publication. It will spell out your copyrights and the dos and don’ts of reusing your work. When evaluating a journal for possible submission, take a look at the Information for Authors for information on how their copyright policies work.

Know your rights

The CTA is an important first step in understanding what you can do with your article once it’s published. The CTA will explain who owns the copyright along with information on how to reuse your work.

For example, if you publish an article in a Lippincott journal,

You can reuse portions of your article (e.g., 1 image, 1 figure, 1 abstract, or 1 excerpt)...

  • for non-commercial activities such as reusing the information in a presentation at a conference.
  • in an academic or scholarly newsletter as long as that newsletter is not produced or accessed more than 100 times.
  • The 100 rule also stands if you want to make photocopies of a part of the article (you are free to make 100 copies or fewer).

You can re-use the peer reviewed manuscript version of your article (NOT the full-text published article version) without permission if the article is at least 12 months old and...

  • if it's being used in your thesis and posted only to your institution's repository.

You can re-use the full text of your article if...

  • it’s translated and republished in other journals (with Publisher approval).
  • it is to be used in a presentation at a conference or seminar (you can make up to 100 copies).

Ask for permissions, not forgiveness

There are circumstances where you will need to obtain permissions to reuse your work. If the reuse of your work will be for commercial or for-profit purposes, including educational material sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, and it will be subject to permission fees.

To request permission to reuse an article published in a Wolters Kluwer journal that you have authored (or co-authored), you’ll need to visit RightsLink. Simply find your article on the journal’s website or using the Search function, and click on Request Permissions, which is located under the article title or on the right of the page under Article Tools.

Once you click on Request Permissions, a form will come up where you can make your request for permissions. If you require any assistance with completing the form, you can contact either the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) at or the permissions team at Wolters Kluwer at

STM Guidelines

If you have work published in a journal or book that is a member of STM, a global trade association for academic and scholarly publishers, you may be able to reuse small portions of text and some images or figures in your new article. The association publishes a set of Guidelines where publishers agree as a group to permit specific text and images/figures between the publishers. Click here to see if a publisher is a signatory of the STM Guidelines.

Social media and copyright

How does copyright affect your ability to share your article on social media? Wolters Kluwer encourages authors to use social media to announce the publication of their articles. You can post, tweet, or share the title of your article and include a hyperlink to the article abstract on the journal homepage, which is always freely available to all readers. Please note however, that you cannot post full-text article on social site networks, such as ResearchGate.

Open Access and copyright

What about copyright when an article is published in an Open Access journal? See the chart below for what you can and can’t do when requesting to reuse an article that was published in an open access journal. Always inquire about which license is provided for the journal (listed under User License in the chart below) and understand if there are article processing fees (APCs). For instance, the User License CC-BY-NC-ND provides authors with most protection, as it doesn’t allow anyone to modify your article without your permission. For more information, read A Guide to Creative Commons Licenses.

User License Distribute to colleagues? Post to open websites (non-commercial)? Reuse of parts of the article in other works? Sell or re-use for commercial purposes? Re-user can choose a different license? Text and data mining
CC BY Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
CC BY-NC-SA Yes Yes Yes No No Yes
CC BY-NC-ND Yes Yes No No No No

Got questions?

Knowing your rights when it comes to copyright is important when you would like to share a part or all of a published paper, but it can be a bit confusing. See below for additional resources:

Wolters Kluwer Health Permissions

Lippincott Open Access

Lippincott OA FAQs

A Guide to Creative Commons Licenses

Email the permissions team at Wolters Kluwer at

Special thanks to the Wolters Kluwer Legal Team.


  1. US Copyright Office. What is Copyright? Accessed September 15, 2023.

Image Credits

3D Copyright symbol: Image by on Freepik

100 graphic: Sign Vectors by Vecteezy, iconbunny,

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Go to the profile of Dawn Angel
8 months ago

Open Access can be difficult to understand since there are so many nuances. This article helps a lot to clear that up!

Go to the profile of Maya Workowski
8 months ago

Very interesting that different methods of publication (e.g. open access v paywall) offer different copyright protections