Managing your copyrights

The Intellectual Property Policy of Carnegie Mellon University explains who owns the intellectual property created by faculty, students, and staff in their relationship with Carnegie Mellon. Carnegie Mellon University strongly encourages members of the University community who own copyright to their work to:

  • Understand what U.S. copyright law protects.
  • Understand their exclusive rights under the law, and the legal exceptions and limitations on their exclusive rights.
  • Manage their copyrights effectively, preferably by making their work freely available (open access) on the Internet and by licensing use of their work under an open license.

Guidelines on Author Rights and Preservation has information and strategies for effective copyright management.

Carnegie Mellon strongly encourages authors to deposit their work in the university’s open access repository, Research Showcase. Open access broadens dissemination, increases citations, enhances reputations, and maximizes the return on investment in research. Authors depositing work in Research Showcase control when their work becomes freely accessible on the Internet. The University Libraries preserves work deposited in Research Showcase and migrates it to new digital formats and technologies as standards evolve. Work posted to personal or departmental websites will likely disappear when the author leaves Carnegie Mellon or be rendered inaccessible when the format becomes obsolete.

All published or unpublished work by Carnegie Mellon faculty, post-doctoral and graduate students may be deposited in Research Showcase, including journal articles, books, book chapters, conference papers and presentations, technical reports, theses and dissertations. Carnegie Mellon undergraduate student work that has been peer reviewed or otherwise certified may be deposited in Research Showcase, including H&SS honors theses, capstone projects, and selected materials from the Meeting of the Minds.

Research Showcase statement on open access and copyright

All work deposited in Research Showcase @ CMU will eventually be made available open access, that is, available to everyone on the Internet at no charge. Open access does not mean authors or their publishers, if copyright was transferred to the publisher, lose their copyrights.

Authors are responsible for determining whether they have the necessary rights to deposit their work. If you own the copyright to a work, you can deposit it in Research Showcase. If you transferred copyright to a publisher, the publisher determines whether the work can be deposited. Most publisher policies allow authors to deposit some version of their work in an institutional repository such as Research Showcase @ CMU. Some policies impose an embargo to delay open access for a specified period of time after publication (e.g., twelve months).

Work can be deposited in Research Showcase at any time. If you transferred copyright to a publisher that imposes an embargo, the embargo can be designated at the time of deposit and access to the work will be opened after the required delay. If you own the copyright to the work, Carnegie Mellon University encourages you to specify at the time of deposit the Creative Commons (CC) license that indicates what you will allow users to do with the work without asking your permission, for example, make and distribute copies. Using a CC license does not mean you give up your copyright.

To discover a publisher’s policy on open access, search the Sherpa RoMEO database. Policies can also be found on journal websites.

Carnegie Mellon authors can also make their work available open access by publishing their articles in open access journals. Quality open access journals are listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Publishers of quality open access journals are members of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association or comply with the OASPA Code of Conduct.

To encourage open access publishing, the University Libraries will help authors pay article processing charges levied by some open access publishers.  For more information, see Financial Support for Open Access Publishing.

Many traditional subscription journals require authors to transfer copyright to the publisher prior to publishing their articles. Nevertheless, in most cases authors retain the right to deposit a version of the article in an open access institutional repository, such as Research Showcase. The SHERPA RoMEO database provides easy access to the policies of over 1,200 publishers.

Copyright owners can license use of their work without transferring copyright. Licenses specify Terms of Use, what users may do with a work without requesting the copyright owner’s permission. For years, licenses have been attached to material available commercially, for example, the contents of a database, a musical CD, a movie on DVD, or a software application. More recently, open licenses have been developed and attached to material that is freely available (open access) on the Internet. Open licenses encourage use of open content by removing one or more copyright restrictions while retaining other copyright protections, for example, allowing copying and distribution, but prohibiting commercial use or the making of derivative works.

The Creative Commons provides a suite of open licenses, each of which enables the copyright owner to designate what users can do with the work without contacting the owner and requesting permission. For more information about open licenses, see the Guide to Open Licensing and list of Conformant Licenses.

See our information specifically for dissertations and theses.