This is for a research paper that's presented in a conference and to be published in a book chapter. From an excerpt of the publishing agreement shown below, since the Publisher has the right to edit, alter, adapt, and prepare derivative works based on the Contribution, couldn't it impact the integrity of my original work? There's one such example here.

"Rights Granted:
The above rights are granted in relation to the Contribution as a whole or any part and with or in relation to any other works. Without limitation, the above grant includes: (a) the right to edit, alter, adapt, adjust and prepare derivative works; (b) all advertising and marketing rights including without limitation in relation to social media; (c) rights for any training, educational and/or instructional purposes; and (d) the right to add and/or remove links or combinations with other media/works. The Author hereby grants to the Publisher the right to create, use and/or license and/or sub-license content data or metadata of any kind in relation to the Contribution or parts thereof (including abstracts and summaries) without restriction. The copyright in the Contribution shall be vested in the name of the Author. The Author has asserted their right(s) to be identified as the originator of the Contribution in all editions and versions, published in all forms and media. The Author agrees that all editing, alterations or amendments to the Contribution made by or on behalf of the Publisher or its licensees for the purpose of fulfilling this Agreement or as otherwise allowed by the above rights shall not require the approval of the Author and will not infringe the Author's "moral rights" (or any equivalent rights). This includes changes made in the course of dealing with retractions or other legal issues."

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    If the conference chose to make substantial changes (other than formatting and trimming to fit in available space), then that would affect their integrity and how people chose to interact with them in the future. They have better things to do than twist your work.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 19, 2023 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


In theory, yes, such things could happen, but not in practice. Or, more accurately, only rarely in practice.

Note first that the right to make derivative works is part of copyright itself, not a separate requirement of publishers. If an author gives up copyright they give up all the attendant rights, though normally with a returned license for certain things.

Don't confuse "derived works" with extended works. Anyone, including the original author, can extend a published work, independent of copyright.

Derived works, however, include translations to other languages and to other formats. I doubt that spelling and grammar corrections, often made by publishers, are "derived" works, and usually made with the permission of authors in any case. But, a publisher might want to make, for example, an online version or a graphic version of some work and the original author might not have the interest or skills to add much to such a thing.

But there are a number of factors that suggest it would be bad corporate policy to go too far outside what authors accept. First is the journal's reputation. I doubt that it would last long if the journal regularly abused authors. It wouldn't be invisible to the wider community and it would lessen the likelihood that people would want to publish there. Journals and their publishers have a vested interest in good author relationships. It is also not usually likely that the journal would have more expertise in the topic than the author, so it is difficult to find many cases when such a derived work is an enhancement.

I suspect, also, that most publisher demands for changes come while the author still holds copyright, not afterwards. In those cases the author can take the work elsewhere. Giving up copyright is late enough in the process that the parties have already come to an agreement about what will be published.

The issue of retractions is sensitive, but also related to journal reputation and the validity of scholarship. If something is found to be false, or damaging, after publication, the journal may have an obligation to retract it, even when the author disagrees. Publishing reputable scholarship is more than a "vanity" project to boost author's ego, or even reputation. It is an attempt to add to human knowledge.

There is one aspect of this that is sensitive to some. If a textbook is popular and makes a lot of money for a publisher (and for the author), then the publisher will want future editions. Some books have a long lifetime for the original edition, but many, especially elementary, textbooks require new editions, sometimes just to replace the set of exercises. An author will often find this "need" listed in a publishing contract. If the author is willing to update the book every few (two or three, perhaps) years then the publisher is happy. But otherwise the publisher claims (legally, since they hold copyright) to be able to have others do the update, usually by adding a new author, even when the original author does little for the new edition. Personally, I never liked such clauses, but understand their purpose. If a textbook isn't upgraded it will often (usually?) disappear after only a few years.

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