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Research Publishing (Open Access): Licences

Open access compliance and REF 2021

Licences

Although the primary aim of Open Access publishing is to make the outputs of publicly funded research freely available without restriction, a secondary aim is to remove barriers to reuse. Such reuse has positive implications for further research, innovation and education.

Copyright protections are still applicable to outputs published via Open Access. However, to be considered truly Open Access, rights for the distribution, reuse or modification of content must be granted to third parties (aside from the publisher or author, with whom the copyright will reside).

Commonly used types of licence are those of the Creative Commons scheme. These are a suite of licences which allow free reuse of a work, subject to attribution, and without the explicit permission of the author. Only copyright holders may add a Creative Commons (CC) licence. CC licences  allow authors to grant non-exclusive distribution rights to publishers, while also allowing reuse rights to readers.

CC licences have proved to be effective legal instruments. They are additionally to be preferred as their simplicity aids machine-readability and interoperability, thus removing technical barriers to access.

CC licences allow authors to grant non-exclusive distribution rights to publishers, while also allowing reuse rights to readers.However, different types of CC licence confer varying restrictions, for instance, to do with commercial reuse, or adaptation.

Authors should check whether their funder specifies any particular licence type.

Additional panels on this page provide further information on licence types and definitions.

The video Creative Commons Kiwi by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY) license. The video was made with support from InternetNZ and is a project of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Produced by Mohawk Media.

Creative Commons licences: types

The Creative Commons website includes a useful licence chooser.

The licence types are defined as follows:

Creative Commons licences: definitions

Intellectual property

Researchers at the University of the Highlands and Islands should additionally be mindful of the university's policy regarding intellectual property. 

Generally, copyright is owned by the employer if a work is produced by an author during the course of their employment. However, universities typically grant free licence for research outputs to authors, so that authors are then able to licence their work through their chosen publisher. This allows authors to openly publish their work; the licence agreed upon between an author and publisher stipulates conditions of reuse. The author is liable for checking intellectual property stipulations with regard to their employer, licencing, and publishing negotiations.