Amend a Publishing Agreement

To avoid a conflicting transfer of copyright to the publisher and to protect yourself from breach of contract, you can use the addendum generator to prepare an “author addendum” to attach to the agreement with a publisher. Even without the attachment of an addendum, however, the license to Harvard will still have force unless it is waived for a particular article.

Each school’s open access policy operates automatically to give the University a nonexclusive license in any scholarly articles a faculty member completes after its adoption. This is true for both existing and later-hired faculty members

Publishers’ agreements concerning publication of articles often contain provisions that are inconsistent with the prior license granted to Harvard under the Open Access Policy.

For instance, a publisher’s agreement may specify that you transfer all copyright in the article to the publisher and that you warrant that there are no prior licenses. The existence of the prior license to Harvard means that this warranty is not true. If you sign the publication agreement without an appropriate amendment, you may be in breach of the agreement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an author addendum?

An author addendum is a simple legal tool. The typical addendum is a short document, used to amend the agreement issued by a publisher. You have the option to use an appropriate addendum with a publisher’s agreement, so that the agreement will take proper account of Harvard’s license, unless you are sure that the publisher’s agreement is wholly consistent with Harvard’s license.

Though other forms of addendum are available, Harvard has developed an addendum specifically designed to deal with the prior license granted to the University. It also enables you to reserve or obtain some additional rights if you wish. Instructions for using the Harvard addendum are provided with the addendum generator on this web site.

If you are an author of a peer-reviewed article that has arisen, in whole or in part, from NIH-funded research that is accepted for publication on or after April 7, 2008, you are also subject to the NIH Public Access Policy. For information about what you should do in that case, please see What if my article is also subject to the NIH Public Access Policy?

How do I use an author addendum?

Complete an appropriate form of addendum, sign and date the form, add a statement to the publisher’s agreement making it subject to the addendum, and attach the addendum to the publisher’s agreement. An addendum generator with instructions is provided here.

Is there someone I can contact if I have questions about how to use the addendum generator?

Yes. You can get help on all issues involving the Open Access Policy from the Office for Scholarly Communication at osc@hulmail.harvard.edu.

What if the journal publisher refuses to accept my addendum or wants to negotiate it?

You have a number of options. One is to obtain a waiver of the license under the policy. Alternatively, you can work to persuade the publisher that it should accept Harvard’s non-exclusive license in order to be able to publish your article, or seek a different publisher. You can consult with the Office for Scholarly Communication for help in the process of working with publishers and addressing their specific concerns.

What if a publisher tells me I don’t need the addendum because the publisher’s agreement already permits immediate posting of the article in an institutional open-access repository?

It may still be a good idea to use the addendum. The nonexclusive license to Harvard enables the University to allow you and others to make various beneficial uses of the article, so long as the article is not sold for a profit, such as allowing you to include copies of the article in a course pack or to make derivative works of the article, which may be in conflict with provisions of the publication agreement.

To avoid a conflicting transfer of copyright to the publisher and to protect yourself from breach of contract, you may still want to attach an addendum. However, if the publisher’s agreement is wholly consistent with Harvard’s license, you would not need to use the addendum. This may be the case, for example, for some open-access journals.

What should I do if my article has co-authors?

Even if you are not the corresponding author dealing with the journal publisher in connection with the article, you may still decide to use the addendum with the publisher’s agreement so that the terms of the agreement will not be in conflict with the license granted to Harvard. You can use the addendum generator to create an addendum for the article that may be used by your corresponding co-author.

Does this web site provide legal advice to me?

No, this web site provides information and resources to help faculty members and others understand the Open Access Policy and to assist in compliance, but does not provide individual legal advice. The Office for Scholarly Communication and its staff also are not able to provide individual legal advice. If you wish legal advice about your copyrights or individual situation, you should consult your own attorney.