If the name I used on the publication is different from my legal name, which one should I use in the copyright form? Let's say the names are Joseph (legal name) and Joe (name in the paper), or even different last names.

  • 1
    I am no legal expert, but at least in Europe I heard that many people keep their maiden names as official pseudonyms (which are stated on their id and passport as such), to be able to keep publishing under this name. In this case, you are able (to some extend at least) to sign legal documents with your pseudonym, which is especially thought for copyright issues. If it is not a legal pseudonym it might be more complicated.
    – skymningen
    Feb 9, 2016 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


Between name changes, use names, transliteration, etc., this is a rather common situation, and copyright forms are generally well designed to allow graceful handling of it. Most copyright forms that I have encountered include two separate places where you put a name:

  1. A list of the authors, in which you should write all of the names exactly as they appear on the paper.
  2. A signature line, in which an authorized signer (in this case, yourself) should place their usual signature, in the same form that you use it for other legal documents.

There is no actual requirement that these names be identical, just that the authorized signer take legal responsibility for the assertions of the document, including asserting that the list of author names is appropriate. In fact, for some authors, their organization may not allow the author to be the person who signs the document!

Thus, if you write your name on the paper as "author" and you write your legal name for signature, this should be fine and appropriate. If, somehow, you encounter a form that does not make the distinction between the two names, then I would say it is highly likely that the organization issuing the form must be rather sloppy with regards to handling copyright in any case, and you should not worry about it.

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    Indeed, at least in the US, there is no legal requirement that your signature resemble your name at all. You can use a little cartoon drawing of a dog as your signature if you like, provided that you always use approximately the same little cartoon drawing of a dog.
    – JeffE
    Feb 9, 2016 at 13:18

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