Copyright and licenses



The term copyright refers to the exclusive legal rights that the creator of a work is granted for a fixed number of years that regulates the use of his or her work. Copyright applies to a wide variety of works, such as text, sound, images, movies, databases, computer programmes, and more. In the UK, literature, artistic works and sound recordings are copyrighted for 70 years after the death of the creator. For more information regarding copyright, please see the Library’s main copyright page

Creative Commons

Creative Commons allows creators to license their work using Creative Commons licences. There are four types of licenses:  BY (attribution), ND (non-derivatives), NC (non-commercial) and SA (share alike). Creators can use the CC-BY license either alone or in combination with one or more of the other licenses and preserve the rights they would like to keep for themselves and the rights they prefer to waive to the public. For more information visit the Creative Commons Choose License page.

If the research is funded, then authors must check with the copyright or Open Access policy of their funder. The Sherpa Juliet website provides information about OA policies for many funders.

The Research Councils are an example of a funder that requires outputs that are published OA to be published under a specific Creative Commons licence. The RCUK Open Access Policy requires a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License for journal articles published as OA. According to the wording of the "RCUK Open Access Policy", “[w]here the RCUK OA block grant is used to pay Article Processing Charges for a paper, the paper must be made Open Access immediately at the time of online publication, using the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence.” (section 3.5, i). For more information, Please see the OA and Research Council page.

Journal agreements 

Some publishers also specify which licences, articles must be published under or deposited into Pure with. The Sherpa Romeo website provides information about the OA policies of publishers.

Journals publishers follow a variety of different licensing agreements. The majority use “All Rights Reserved” or “Some Rights Reserved” licenses and a few use Creative Commons Licenses.

If the funder (if any) or the publisher does not specify a Creative Commons licence, then staff can choose the licence that they want and is most appropriate to the output.


Please email for questions on copyright and Open Access

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