Copyright - How do I fill in a publisher form?

Published on
March 29, 2021

The Copyright Information Point (CIP) receives many interesting questions that could easily be on an exam about Dutch Copyright Law. In the current and coming WUR Library Newsletters, we'll highlight some questions because these questions are too interesting to keep to ourselves. Today's question is about publishers forms.

The question

When publishing a scientific article, I often receive a form from the publishers, for example, a “standard license” or a “publication agreement” form. In these forms, I must fill in who owns the publication, for what kind of entity I work, and what Creative Commons-license I should choose. What should I answer?

The CIP's answer

Submitting the form means that you actually conclude an agreement with the publisher: this agreement means that you give permission to the publisher to publish the article under the conditions stated in the form. How you should fill in the form largely depends on the agreements that have been made regarding the publication of your work, for example in a research agreement with a client or a PhD contract.

In general, copyright on a publication written by a WUR employee as part of his or her normal work activities belongs to WUR: “If the work performed in the service of another consists in the production of certain works of literature, science or art, then unless otherwise agreed between the parties, the maker of those works is considered the person in whose service the works have been produced" (article 7 of the Dutch Copyright Act).

This means that the answer to who owns the publication resulting from research at WUR is, in principle, the following: “I am an author and contributed to this article in the course of my employment. My employer is an owner of the publication and holds all or some of the copyright.””

An important nuance is that “WUR” is not an entity itself, but consists of two entities: Wageningen University and Stichting Wageningen Research. Wageningen University is a public organization (a “non-US / non-UK government entity”). Stichting Wageningen Research is a private-law foundation (“private” or “non-government”). Depending on which entity the employee works for, the employer can be Wageningen University or Stichting Wageningen Research.

Things get a little more complicated when the publication is written with co-authors from other organizations. In that case, those other authors must at least have given permission for publication. But that will have to be part of the publication process pursuant to the Netherlands Code of Conduct for Research Integrity.

The legal department of your science group can help you with filling in the publisher agreements. They can also help you with choosing the most suitable Creative Commons-license for your publication.

If you have any question about copyright law, please feel free to send it to