Joint Author Agreements

Copyright law has some potentially unexpected surprises for co-authors. Co-authors usually have a “duty to account” to each other for revenues generated from the jointly-authored work. Co-authors may also have a duty not to “waste” the jointly owned asset (the co-authored work). In theory, granting a non-exclusive license without generating revenues could be “waste.”

To avoid the application of unexpected rules to co-authored papers, I enter into an agreement with my co-authors. I believe this is relatively unique; my understanding is that (perhaps not surprisingly) most professors don’t deal with this detail. My general goal: I want to be free to recycle the paper without obligation to the co-author, and I’m OK if the co-author does the same. I’m not vouching for the legal consequences of this document, so use it advisedly. I welcome your comments.