Copyright is the term used to describe the rights related to the publication and distribution of research. It governs how authors (as well as their employers or funders), publishers and the wider general public can use, publish and distribute articles or books.
In order for Elsevier to publish and disseminate research articles, we need publishing rights. This is determined by a publishing agreement between the author and Elsevier. This agreement deals with the transfer or license of the copyright to Elsevier and authors retain significant rights to use and share their own published articles.
Help and Support
- See our author pages for further details about how authors can share and promote their articles.
- For details on self-archiving and posting, please refer to our article posting policy.
- For details on copyright for book authors see our book authors rights and responsibilities page.
- For use of Elsevier material not defined below please see our permissions page or FAQs or email us at the permissions help desk.
Copyright and open access
How copyright works with open access licenses
For Elsevier proprietary journals the following steps apply:
- Authors sign a publishing agreement where they will have copyright but grant broad publishing and distribution rights to the publisher, including the right to publish the article on Elsevier's online platforms.
- The author chooses an end user license under which readers can use and share the article.
- The publisher makes the article available online with the author's choice of end user license.
Protecting author rights
Copyright aims to protect the specific way the article has been written to describe an experiment and the results. Elsevier is committed to its authors to protect and defend their work and their reputation and takes allegations of infringement, plagiarism, ethic disputes and fraud very seriously.
If an author becomes aware of a possible plagiarism, fraud or infringement we recommend contacting their Elsevier publishing contact who can then liaise with our in-house legal department. Note that certain open access user licenses may permit quite broad re-use that might otherwise be counted as copyright infringement. For details about how to seek permission to use an article see our permission page.
Rights granted to Elsevier
Rights granted to Elsevier
For both subscription and open access articles, published in proprietary title, Elsevier is granted the following rights:
- The exclusive right to publish and distribute an article, and to grant rights to others, including for commercial purposes.
- For open access articles, Elsevier will apply the relevant third party user license where Elsevier publishes the article on its online platforms.
- The right to provide the article in all forms and media so the article can be used on the latest technology even after publication.
- The authority to enforce the rights in the article, on behalf of an author, against third parties, for example in the case of plagiarism or copyright infringement.
Elsevier has specific publishing agreements with certain government and inter-governmental organizations for their employee authors. These agreements enable authors to retain substantially the same rights as detailed in the "Author Rights section" but are specifically tailored for employees from the relevant organizations, including:
- World Bank
- World Health Organization
- For US government employees, works created within the scope of their employment are considered to be public domain and Elsevier's publishing agreements do not require a transfer or license of rights for such works.
- In the UK and certain commonwealth countries, a work created by a government employee is copyrightable but the government may own the copyright (Crown copyright).
Elsevier supports the need for authors to share, disseminate and maximize the impact of their research and these rights, in Elsevier proprietary journals* are defined below:
For subscription articles
For open access articles
Authors transfer copyright to the publisher as part of a journal publishing agreement, but have the right to:
Authors sign an exclusive license agreement, where authors have copyright but license exclusive rights in their article to the publisher. In this case authors have the right to:
*Please note that society or third party owned journals may have different publishing agreements. Please see the journal's guide for authors for journal specific copyright information.