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Author's Rights

Copyright protects the expression of ideas in a variety of works. Specific examples of works protected by copyright range from books, articles, posters, manuals, and graphs to CDs, DVDs, software, databases, and websites. It is the fixed expression of the work that is protected by copyright whereas ideas in and of themselves are not protected. The fixation requirement can be as formal as a published document or as simple as a recording of an interview; the rights belong to the individual who fixed the material in its physical format. As soon as an artistic, literary, scientific or musical work or software is created, it is protected by copyright.

Under the Canadian Copyright Act, an author possesses a number of distinct and exclusive rights. An author's economic rights include the right to reproduce, adapt, publish, and communicate publicly one’s own work as well as to sell ownership to, and grant rights of use to his or her own work. Whereas an author's economic rights can be assigned to another person or entity, moral rights can only be held by the creators and their heirs. An author's moral rights require of others that the author be credited for his or her own work and that his or her reputation not be negatively affected by modifications to, performance of, or display of the original work. (An author's moral rights cannot be assigned to someone else, but they can be waived.)

The duration of copyright in Canada is fifty years after the death of the author. This is often referred to as the "life-plus-fifty rule." In the case of joint authorship, copyright lasts for fifty years after the death of the author who dies last.

Faculty and Graduate Students

In conjunction with the protections afforded by the Copyright Act, the collective agreements for UNB faculty and graduate students also protect the intellectual property produced at the university. UNB faculty and graduate students have the right to disseminate and/or change their work and to control the circumstances in which others may disseminate and/or change their work. In the context of education, these author's rights include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • copying and distributing your work to students and colleagues;
  • re-using and/or modifying parts of your own work in future publications;
  • allowing others to use and/or modify your work; and
  • receiving attribution and recognition for your work.

University Staff

Copyright in works created by UNB staff in the course of their employment, unless otherwise negotiated, is owned the employer.


Students hold copyright in the essays, project reports, and other work done to satisfy course requirements as well as in finished theses or dissertations resulting from their efforts. In the case of joint projects among a number of students, the intellectual property will normally be divided according to the contribution of each.

What to Expect from Publishers

It is up to you to negotiate a balanced contract with your publisher; a contract that does not limit how you may use the content you have created. Publishing your work may jeopardize your authorial rights, unless you negotiate a publication agreement that is favourable to you. Transferring your rights as an author to a publisher will restrict your ability to broadly disseminate your work.

You can rely on the SPARC Author Addendum to help you modify an onerous publication agreement and retain your rights as an author.

Also, you can browse lists of publishers to find out their copyright rules and gauge their approaches to author rights at SHERPA/RoMEO.

The UNB Copyright Office would be happy to assist you in this process.

Alternative Publishing Models

There are many ways, outside of traditional academic publishing, that you can make your work available to a wide audience. These alternative publishing models include creative commons, open access, and wikis.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps creators customize the terms of copyright in ways that facilitate the usage of copyrighted materials while protecting authors' rights. In light of these goals, Creative Commons offers six basic types of licences that authors can customize to enable varying degrees of sharing and modification of their works by the users.

Open Access

Open access is a publishing model that makes scholarly literature in digital form freely available to the end user, with few copyright and licencing restrictions. By promoting the free flow and exchange of ideas, open access aspires to accelerate the speed and quality of scientific discovery and the transfer of knowledge to the benefit of society as a whole. For information on Open Access at UNB, see Open Access @ UNB Libraries and the Centre for Digital Scholarship.


A wiki is a website that allows collaborative editing of the content by the users, such as Wikipedia. Creators of wikis can set different levels of access and different levels of editing privileges. For information on how to start a wiki, visit here.


For assistance with publishing and copyright in your work, contact