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What is Copyright?

Copyright is an intellectual property right that exists automatically from the moment an original work (such as a journal article) is created. The author or creator is granted rights protected by law that limit the ways that a work can be reused by others (such as copying or selling it). Copyright ownership usually rests with the creator of the work. However, if the work was undertaken for an employer then the copyright ownership may rest with the employer.

Copyright and Open Access

When you publish an article or book, the publisher often asks you to sign over copyright and/or other rights to them. This not only impedes open access it also means that you may no longer be the primary rights holder and may not be able to reuse your own work.

To ensure open access to your work, you need to retain copyright and apply a creative commons licence to allow others to access, download and re-use your works.

Which licence should you apply?

A Creative Commons licence tells others what you - the copyright owner - allow them to do with your paper. 

Creative Commons CC BY logo   CC-BY is the most permissive Creative Commons Attribution. It allows anyone to access, download, re-use and re-purpose your paper.  The CC-BY licence is the one usually required by funders.

How do you apply a licence?

When you submit your paper to a journal to be published just select the CC-BY licence when prompted by the publisher.

How do you retain copyright?

Open Access Journals (Gold Route)

When you publish your paper via the Gold Route (through one of our Transformative Agreements) then copyright is normally retained by you the author.  The publisher will usually ask you to sign a Licence to Publish (LTP) which allows them to do what they need to do to publish and promote your article.  Be aware, though, that some LTPs, while seeming to include author copyright retention, actually limit what you can do with the article. Make sure you choose a CC-BY licence to provide maximum open access.

Open Access Repositories (Green Route)

When publishing in a subsciption journal you are often required to transfer copyright to the publisher.  The publisher will usually allow certain reuse of the work. You should make your author accepted manuscript (AAM) available online through TeesRep - the University's institutional repository.  However, the publisher may choose to apply an embargo so the AAM cannot be made available for 3 to 36 months following publication.

Rights Retention Statement

Many funders now require authors to include a Rights Retention Statement to their Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM).  This statement asserts the author's right to apply a CC-BY licence to the AAM and means that the author retains copyright.  This enables the author to deposit the AAM into a repository with no publisher embargo.


Open access copyright and third party material

An important part of the publishing process is to ensure that your publication complies with copyright law. This includes any third-party work that you may have included in your work, you must ensure are copyright compliant and the works are correctly attributed. Copyright requirements in open access publications can differ from licences and attributions needed in non-open access publication. Find out more about how to manage third-party copyright to comply with UKRI’s open access policy.

For more information on copyright:

British Library Scholarly Communications Toolkit

British Library guide to copyright and creative commons in research