UPDATE (3/25): The Editorial Board of the Journal of Library Administration has resigned, citing the reason that “…the licensing terms in the Taylor & Francis author agreement are too restrictive and out-of-step with the expectations of authors in the LIS community.” 

Read more about it on The Chronicle of Higher Ed, on Chronicle Blogs here, from one of the Editors, and from a fellow librarian who also stood his ground on licensing his work. 


Brief: I published an article. But before all that, I negotiated my publication contract and had a really great experience doing so. This is the story. 

Journal of Library Administration. Special Issue: Digitial Humanities in Libraries – New Models For Scholarly Engagement. 

Versions of Scholarly Record available at –

alt/OA Table of Contents (Links to peer-reviewed open access versions of the articles)

I have previously written about the opportunity I was presented with, when invited to include an article in the Journal of Library Administration’s special issue on Digital Humanities. It was extraordinarily important for me to slowly walk through the process of publication. As the Scholarly Communication Librarian at Florida State University, I am constantly challenging and prodding faculty members to investigate their publishing practices and understand what is happening, especially in the Publication Agreement. So when I was presented with a similar agreement, I took it as an opportunity to practice what I preach. 

Some quick details:

1. The journal is published by Taylor and Francis. In Nov. 2011, T&F adopted new author rights policies for all their Library and Information Science journals, basically changing from the standard Copyright Transfer to an Exclusive License to Publish. I think this is a great example of a publisher working diligently to meet the evolving requests of the scholar by adapting their way of doing things. So already, by publishing with this journal and this publisher, I was a step ahead of most faculty authors who are “required” to sign full transfer of copyright to the publisher. So this was a contract negotiation rather than a negotiation for copyright.

2. I had the pleasure of working with an Editor and Guest Editor who were supportive of my many questions and went to bat for me over the rights negotiation with the publisher. I am sure the negotiation would have gone very differently if Damon Jaggers and Barbara Rockenbach had not done the leg work of translating between me and the publisher.

3. This was the first publishing contract negotiation I have ever done.

I was more surprised than anyone when after writing an audacious email stating that I refuse to sign the contact as is, and sending around a “Here are my demands Mr. Publisher” addendum to the contract, that Taylor and Francis responded, line by line, to my proposed amendments. Here’s what they had to say, interspersed with my requests (in bold) corresponding to specific line items on the orginal contract.

Win #1


The contract doesn’t use the language “exclusive license”, but implies it. I’d like clarification. 

>>> Our license to publish is not exclusive, and does not use the term.

“Full term of copyright” – dependent on the law at this time? Can I choose a different term? If so, I’d like to. (Life of author + 70 years is unreasonable in my opinion.)

>>> Yes, full term of copyright by US law in the year of execution.

“right to supply the article in electronic and online forms and systems” – is this exclusive? Would it hinder my rights to do the same?

>>> The form does not claim exclusive rights.

Appendix 1

1.3 – if right to publish is exclusive I don’t agree with 1.3 in this section. I want the right to sublicense these rights to other also.

>>> The form is not exclusive, and no one we sublicense to (Ebsco, Google Scholar, etc.) accepts individual sublicenses.  Such a striking would actually mean we could not distribute the article to many third parties who index and provide search functions.  No author wants this.  Every author I have ever spoken to wants maximum distribution of their content.

 2. Strike the sentence about addendum or memorandum. Many institutions are asking faculty to use addenda to negotiate their rights and I want to preserve that for faculty and colleagues. 

>>> While we in some cases do agree to addenda, we will never recognize an unsigned or unilateral addendum.  Such addendums are not fair to both parties.

5. Strike the sentence about these rights not being transferrable to others. If they’re allowed to do it, I want to be able to also. 

>>> We retain right to license.  We do not restrict author licensing.

7. My piece is based extensively on an article published in a important journal in my field, indexed, with an ISSN. Additionally, it was published originally under a CC-BY-NC license. I can only agree with the last sentence in this paragraph. I’d like this language to be adapted to say that “I warrant that the Article is my original work, which has been substantially revised, rewritten and adapted under a the terms of a Creative Commons license. The work published here is based on, but different from, that original piece.” Or something. 

>>>> This sentence is not at contradiction with our clause 7, which is a warranty that work is not infringing on others.

Appendix 2

3. “Systematic basis” – please remove or clarify. This language is not conducive to the culture of sharing that is developing in academia. 

>>>> We could agree to strike this via addendum.  It is meant to convey that distribution should not be via commercial channels.

In light of the recent GA State case, I’d like the right to share to include the word “Students.” It is important to me that this article be allowed to be used, without cause for legal recourse, in course packs and in CMS systems like Blackboard and Moodle.

>>>> We would agree to this

4. “the right to post the preprint…” in my institutional repository. 

>>>> The term institutional repository could be added via addendum.  That is what is meant by this clause

5. Strike the phrase “or such other acknowledgement as we or Taylor &Francis may notify you.” I’ll agree to adding the statement as supplied in the contract, but not that they can change that statement at any time.

>>>> We would agree to strike this.

6. “institution’s network or intranet or website…” Please add “or institutional repository.” We all know what they’re called, lets just say it. 

>>>> The term institutional repository could be added via addendum.  That is what is meant by this clause

“systematic external distribution by a third party…” Please clarify. Does this mean I cannot post it on my profile? If so, I’d like this removed.

>>>> This means that you could not post to another site that distributes the content systematically.  A profile page with a link a store of published works would not be considered this.

Please adapt the statement for the post print to read: This is the peer-reviewed version of an article publishing in…” It’s important to me that readers know this fact about my work. 

>>>> We would agree to the author adding this term to the statement

Strike the language about embargos that Taylor and Francis has now, or may at any time in the future decide to create.

>>>> [no response]

In light of recent changes by NIH to cut funding for authors who do not comply with their public access policy, please remove the language that states “You must not post manuscripts directly to PMC, or other third party sites.” If the company fails to do so, authors may lose funding. Also, I don’t like the inclusion of “other third party sites.”

>>>> Taylor & Francis actually handles deposits on author’s behalf for the NIH.  We cannot strike agreement to our embargos, although we could strike the term “in the future”.

7. add “students.” 

>>>> We can clarify that distribution to students is fine.

Systematic basis? please clarify or remove. 

>>>> We can clarify that distribution to students is fine.


Win #2

Following this response, I decided in consultation with the Editors, to not push it anymore and claim it as a victory. Weeks later I received an email saying that my proofs were ready and that the Copyright Transfer agreement had to be signed in as part of the proof approval process. Queue another flurry of emails full of my righteous indignation saying “I have only just begun to fight!” At the turn of the year, T&F graciously agreed to extend the addendum to ALL articles published in this issue, meaning that ALL authors would retain rights, be able to post the peer-reviewed version immediately upon publication, have greater clarity of their rights to the work etc.

Win #3

Two weeks before the issue was to be published, Barbara, the Guest Editor, informed me and Stewart Varner (co-author) that T&F wanted to make one article from the issue open access (for publicity), and they’d like it to be ours.

Loss #1

A week before the issue was to be published, imagine my surprise when I got an email saying the final proof was ready for my approval and I discovered that conveniently, in the top left of the page, the citation information included a nice big “Copyright © Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.” Needless to say, after all the negotiations, I was pretty unhappy to see that. And I told them:

The proof looks fine with the very blatant exception that I do not support the inclusion of the Copyright statement in the header, since I did not sign over my copyright to Taylor and Francis… including that “Copyright © Taylor and Francis Group, LLC” is the exact opposite of the License to Publish that you originally sent to me, and the agreed upon addendum that we negotiated through the Editor. Having that included on this article is confusing as to the copyright status of the piece, and if there must be a copyright statement there I want it to read “Copyright © The Authors.”

At this point, a week away from production, I was actually contacted by the VP for Production at Taylor and Francis. (You know you’re doing something right/wrong when you get the attention of a VP.) The response was coridal, and enlightening.

The copyright line is present with the Taylor & Francis name because you have granted Taylor & Francis license to publish, and also to grant permission on your article.  The presence of the line does not in any way change the agreement you have with us. The statement is in a standard place that alerts parties that seek permission as to who they may contact.  Based on the agreement you signed, our assumption is that you wish for Taylor & Francis to grant such permissions.  We thus include the line it as you see it for all authors that we receive licenses such as the one you have signed.

I agreed, bugrudingly, and with much consternation, to let this last issue go, and the VP for Production indicated that they know this is an issue and plan to look further into adapting it. I plan to hold them to that, if ever publishing with them in the future. Needless to say, immediately upon publication, a colleague of mine at FSU noticed the fancy “© Taylor and Francis” and called me out on it. So, already, I have proof that regardless of all the work I did fighting for copyrights, the simple inclusion of that symbol confused a reader as to the truth of the matter, that I OWN THE ARTICLE and that I GRANTED to the publisher A LICENSE TO PUBLISH. Still not too happy about that one.

TIE #1

Two of the authors of articles included in this issue do not have access to the published version, as their institution doesn’t subscribe to the journal. Elated as I was, I sent the link to my wife and my best friend – it asked them to pay $35. Based on the terms of the addendum, ALL authors had the right to post the peer-reviewed version of the article in their institutional repository or on their website. So, Taylor and Francis has the final Version of Scholarly Record hosted on their site, and each author is posting the post-print version (exact same text minus all the fancy layout and insignia). Win – Win. Or Tie.


After approving proofs, way back in December, I was offered the option to make my article open access… for the tasteless price of $3250. I took a screen shot to share.


I understand that publishers are fighting for ways to keep their revenue alive, but seriously? I made it open access immediately for free by amending my contract.

All in all, I feel really good about the process. I thought all the people I interacted with at T&F were very kind and patient. I am really pleased to be published with Stewart, a friend, colleague and professional I respect immensely. But most of all, I am amped, excited and chomping at the bit to run around campus saying to all the faculty I’ve worked with and will work with, “Scholarly communication is changing, and I have proof.”

See the final approved addendum that we used as an additional file at the bottom of the page here.


21 thoughts on “Proof

  1. Congratulations on your publication and your copyright fight Micah. Negotiating contracts is kind of fun if you know exactly what you want. Thanks for providing a good example.

  2. As one of the co-authors of another article in this issue, I’d like to publicly thank Micah for all his work on this matter, enabling all of us to maintain our right to use, re-use, and share our intellectual property. Appreciation also to Barbara and Damon for their support of Micah’s efforts.

    The fact that Taylor & Francis prints a copyright statement prominently at the top of their version is indeed a concern. Surely they could change that language, particularly when their own standard author agreement asks for a non-exclusive license rather than transfer of copyright. To quote what their VP said: “The statement is in a standard place that alerts parties that seek permission as to who they may contact. Based on the agreement you signed, our assumption is that you wish for Taylor & Francis to grant such permissions. We thus include the line it as you see it for all authors that we receive licenses such as the one you have signed.” If T&F’s goal is simply to alert potential sub-licensors about who can grant permission, T&F could do that without claiming copyright, surely?

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  10. Forgive the belated comment, but I came across this post while currently trying to navigate through the new-to-me license from T&F. I’ve published with T&F before the license change, where I signed a slightly hidden alternate license that allowed for retaining copyright. I find it odd that T&F had issues about the copyright statement in your case when, under the old license, they had no problem stating that I retained copyright on my articles (see for an example).

    I emailed our production editor about the new-to-me license and asked about how the copyright statement would look like with the changes. She mentioned that there would be a “Published with license by Taylor & Francis” note on the top left and the copyright statement (which the authors will be attributed) would be in the first footnote. I’m not sure if this is a change since you’ve published with T&F, or if there’s something else that’s going on. Hmmm…

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