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Copyright and licences


Copyright is an automatic right protected in law as soon as a work is produced. The legal owner in the first instance is the creator (author) of the work. Under UK law, Intellectual Property (IP) generated by an employee in the course of their usual work belongs to the employer. However, the University of Exeter waives ownership of copyright in materials of a scholarly nature such as academic journal articles.

When publishing your work, publishers may require you to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement, this transfers copyright to the publisher. The publisher will then set out what you are allowed to do with that work. For example, many publishers only allow the accepted manuscript to be made available in an institutional repository, not the final published version. Alternatively, you may retain copyright and grant the publisher an exclusive licence to publish and disseminate your work. Author / institutional retention of copyright is a core principle of Plan S

Copyright licensing

A copyright licence is a form of contract (also known as a 'permissions agreement') based in copyright law. Licences allow authors and creators to retain copyright whilst granting others permissions to use their work. They enable you to modify your copyright terms and allow your work to be copied, distributed, edited, remixed or built upon, within the boundaries of copyright law. 

Creative Commons

Creative Commons provides a way to license the sharing and reuse of your work, under terms that are flexible and legally sound. Creative Commons offers a core suite of six copyright licences.

All CC licences require that users provide attribution (BY) to the creator when the material is used or shared. CC BY (only) is the most open licence, granting maximum opportunities for reuse (subject to attribution). The other five licences combine CC BY with one or more additional terms: Non Commercial (NC) prohibits reuse for commercial purposes; No Derivatives (ND) prohibits others from modifying or adapting your work (it must be passed on whole and unchanged); Share Alike (SA) requires adaptations of the material to be released under the same licence.

The University’s institutional repository Open Research Exeter (ORE) policy allows equivalent rights to the CC BY licence to all items in the repository, unless otherwise specified.