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Publishing Open Access: Copyright and Licensing

Copyright and Licensing

Open Access Licensing: If you want to publish Open Access, you will still own the rights to your work. You control how it can be used and the credit you are given by choosing one of the Creative Commons licenses. These open licenses are administered independently of any publisher and are internationally recognised. The licenses are applied as a legal code of practice and can be seen as an addition to the intrinsic copyright applied in each country. Using an open license allows others to continue to build upon your work. There are currently six types of Creative Commons license available, each with slightly different permissions and requirements. All the licenses require that others using your work in any way must give you credit in the way you request, but not in a way that suggests that you endorse them in their use. There must always be a reference and a link to the original if the work is mentioned or reused. 

Academic articles: The author of a journal article may, as part of a standard contract with the publisher, have limited rights to share their own work or may have signed away their economic rights entirely. Many publishers still allow articles to be made ​​freely available provided that certain conditions are met. If you want to know what applies to the journal where you have published your articles, please visit the journal’s publisher’s policy in SHERPA/RoMEO. Authors are recommended to check that the publisher’s policy aligns with the policy of their institution and funder before signing any contracts.

Books and book chapters: When publishing a book, or a chapter in a book, the terms of licensing and copyright will typically be included in a contract which you would have to agree with a publisher and which will specify the usage rights, the format(s) and length of time applied to the work.

Book contracts vary from publisher to publisher, and can in some cases be complicated. If you are required to sign a contract with a publisher in order to publish your work you need to ensure that the contract covers your rights and that it takes into account the obligation you have to your employer and/or the funder of your research.

If you want to publish a thesis or dissertation it is recommended that you contact your institution or department to make sure that you follow their policy for such publications.

For more information on what to consider before publishing an Open Access book see the Open Access Books Toolkit.