Copyright Transfer and Open Access Information

Which form should I sign?

This depends on whether you are selecting open access or not:

  • If you are selecting open access, and the research you are submitting was funded by the Research Council in the UK (RCUK), you should select the Creative-Commons-BY publication license form.
  • If you are selecting open access and your funding agency does not require the CC-BY license (as does, e.g., the RCUK), we recommend either the Creative-Commons-BY-NC-ND license.  You retain the most rights as an author over your work with the BY-ND-NC  license, as this does not permit others to modify your work without your permission or use it commercially.  Additional information is available at
  • If you are not selecting open access, you should sign the copyright transfer form.

Who should sign the copyright transfer agreement?

A copyright transfer or open-access license form must be signed by at least one author. If more than one author chooses to sign, please type or print the name beside each signature. If only one author signs the form he or she must have the consent of each author to transfer copyright of the article.

Can I sign the copyright transfer agreement if I am a U.S. Government employee?

Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are not eligible for U.S. copyright. Such works are considered to be in the public domain, which means that they may be freely copied, republished, and redistributed. In order for works to be placed in the public domain, all authors must be official U.S. Government employees. If at least one author of the work was privately employed, copyright should be transferred to AGU by any of the privately employed authors. If all authors are U.S. Government employees, use the Public Domain copyright form.

Who can transfer copyright if a paper has multiple authors including at least one U.S. Government employee?

To ensure that we can continue to promote wide availability of our publications, AGU requests all non-U.S. Government employees to transfer copyright to us. This transfer permits us to continue publishing our journals and books in all their various formats, to grant permission to abstracting and indexing services to cover our publications, and to grant permission for photocopying beyond the limits defined in the law. In instances where authorship consists of both U.S. Government and privately employed individuals, we require at least one privately employed author to transfer copyright to AGU. This kind of transfer provides ultimate protection and broad dissemination of the work.

What if my company owns the copyright to my article?

Privately employed authors who have written articles in their official capacities as employees should also transfer copyright to AGU. The author’s employer retains the same rights as individual authors. AGU claims no right to the work other than copyright; the author’s employer retains all other rights such as patent rights.

What if my work was supported by a U.S. Government grant or contract?

Authors who are publishing works supported by a U.S. Government grant or contract are requested to transfer copyright to AGU. This kind of transfer permits the broad dissemination of the work while recognizing the U.S. Government’s prior license to use the work for noncommercial purposes.

What is Crown copyright?

If all authors are or were bona fide officers of a Crown government that reserves its own copyright under national law, and the work was prepared on behalf of a government agency, use the Crown copyright agreement.

Where can I get the copyright transfer or Open Access license forms?

You can download them here: