When you publish an article, you are often asked to sign away your rights. Protect yourself with the information on this page.
The first document linked below is a great introduction to the authors' rights for academic researchers. The second is a handout from last year's CUNY authors' rights workshop at the Grad Center. And Dr. Kenneth Crews, Director of the Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory Office, gives excellent advice in the video to the right.
Some publishing agreements ask authors to sign over all of there copyrights, and more and more faculty are negotiating these terms by using addenda. See SPARC's resources at the link below, for more information on retaining your rights.
To find out if a publisher is OA-friendly (allows self-archiving of some version of your paper), search the SHERPA/RoMEO database of publisher copyright policies and self-archiving.
"Columbia University Copyright Advisory Office Director Kenny Crews urges authors to carefully read their publication agreements, negotiate for the rights they need, and keep a copy of all their agreements." (from video description)