Standard and Non-Standard Copyright

Do I need a non-standard copyright?

The copyright line determines who has the legal right to the article after it is published. A ‘standard’ copyright usually lies with the author(s); however, there are several exceptions to this. If any of the authors do not hold the rights to their own contributions, then a Non-Standard Copyright may be needed. 

Part of the publication process will involve the corresponding author going through the Next steps for publishing your article during which they will be asked to agree to a license. 

The following scenarios are considered ‘standard’. As you work through the online publishing workflow, you can select the appropriate option and a licence will automatically be generated.

As part of our unified solution, we offer licenses to publish for the following scenarios as standard:
A ‘standard’ authorThe author(s) owns the rights to their own contributions in the article
CrownIn the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, the copyright of articles produced by civil servants, ministers and employees of government departments and agencies in the course of their duties belong to the Crown. Government departments do not own copyright in their own right.
Most Federal US Government Employees

The US government may not own rights due the public domain status of the material, but an agreement must still be signed.

Federal US Government employees who have the right to sign their own agreement may select this option.

*Except for NIH and NASA who will need to make a non-standard request

If all authors are included in one of the above scenarios, then it is not necessary to request a non-standard copyright.

If any of the Rights Holders belong to one of the below categories, we will need to use a manual process to generate a licence agreement.

Common examples of non-standard copyright
US Government contractors (e.g. organisations running US national laboratories)

Authors affiliated to US Government Contractors who are prevented from personally signing our standard publishing agreements will require a non-standard form.
NIH Employees

As a NIH employee you are not permitted to transfer your copyright to the publisher, but we have a solution in place which will ensure your compliance.

Please contact our Author Service team at with a NIH cover sheet for assistance.
“Work for hire” (employer owns the copyright)

If you do not own the rights to your contribution because the paper derives from a work conducted within your employment, a non-standard agreement is required. 

In this “work for hire” case, the employer is the Rights Holder and owns the copyright.

European Union (EU)If the copyright is owned by the EU, a non-standard form will need to be signed by both the legal representative and the corresponding author
Intergovernmental Organisations

An Intergovernmental Organisation (IGO) is an organisation composed primarily of sovereign states or of other intergovernmental organisations, which has been set up to carry out projects and plans in common interest. 

Common examples include the World Bank, IMF and NATO.

How and when do I request a non-standard copyright?

Once your article has been accepted and you determine that a non-standard copyright is required, please fill in the attached form and send it to Please wait and do not complete the Next steps for publishing your article until OR Support instructs you to proceed. 

From there, the process will follow these steps:

  1. OR Support will review your request form and liaise with our Editorial Rights team in order to create the licence agreement(s). This may take a few business days depending on the complexity and the type of agreement(s) required.
  2.  Most license agreements will be sent to the designated signatory through DocuSign.
  3. The OR Support team will then instruct you how to complete the Next steps for publishing your article and will send the completed licence agreements and agreed copyright line to the production editor.
  4. The Production Editor will then oversee the final steps of the publication process. 

For details on each specific type of copyright, please refer to the support articles below.

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