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This questions is not directly related to Matter Modeling, but it is related with the way we share/publish our research.

Let suppose that someone deposited a manuscript in a preprint server. Then, he/she send the same manuscript to a Journal and it is accepted. In many journals you have to sign a copyright transfer given the journal the publication/reproduction rights over the whole manuscript (text and images).

Now, I, as a reader, get access to both, the preprint and the final published paper.

The question is: Can I just use any of the images from the work in my own paper (just as reference, comparison, etc.) citing the source? Isn't there a superposition of rights?

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    $\begingroup$ This question seems better suited to Academia.SE. $\endgroup$ – Geoff Hutchison Jun 2 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @GeoffHutchison , check out academia.stackexchange.com they have similar questions about copyright and publishing that are not specific to modeing. This might be why those 5 people closed it. $\endgroup$ – Nike Dattani Jun 2 at 12:47
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it is much more probable that someone that do modeling publish than someone from Academia. But that's ok. $\endgroup$ – Camps Jun 2 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ But 5 people here (none of them were me!) voted to close the question. Academia.SE is where questions about publications and journals are asked on SE. $\endgroup$ – Nike Dattani Jun 2 at 17:51
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Depending on the license of the preprint you can use the figures from there, yes. Make sure you have checked the corresponding license and the things you need to do when reusing it (most of the times giving appropriate reference and license notes).

Note that the final article of the journal might include some edited version of the images (review process), so no guarantee that they are the same. But also remember that the authors might be happier if you cite their final paper, since it will more likely increase their "impact".

If you want to make use of the "more free" license of the preprint, you could also just put two references, one for the image and one for the journal article. Then everybody is happy.

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According this guidance from the Boston University library:

Copying up to three figures from any one source is considered fair use. direct link, see p. 14

If you want to play it extra safe (fair use is often a gray area) the publisher will probably have a link on the article listing for something like "reuse and permissions", where you can get permission to reprint a figure (or text, etc). Anything covered by fair use should have a $0 licensing fee (and you can probably get some document from them specifying the permission to reprint).

You will also want to look into the policies of the journal you will be submitting to.

Also: there may be more generous policies if you want to reprint figures from your own papers.

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