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This paper examines contradictions in how copyright works with the publishing of scholarly journals. These contradictions have to do with the protection of the authors' interest and have become apparent with the rise of open access publishing as an alternative to the traditional commercial model of selling journal subscriptions. Authors may well be better served, as may the public which supports research, by open access journals because of its wider readership and early indications of greater scholarly impact. This paper reviews the specifics of publishers' contracts with editors and authors, as well as the larger spirit of copyright law in seeking to help scholars to better understand the consequences the choices they make between commercial and open access publishing models for the future of academic knowledge.