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Copyright

Explaining aspects of copyright to be aware of when studying, lecturing or undertaking research. Please note that information on these pages is for guidance only: it does not constitute formal legal advice.

Publishing

Some useful copyright-related hints:

  • Check publishers' Open Access and Archiving policies: use the Sherpa/Romeo tool to check this. These may affect how easily you can share the paper after publication, without having problems with copyright.
  • Check the publishers' contracts or agreements carefully to make sure you don't agree to anything you don't want to. Often these can be viewed on the publishers' websites. Sometimes they are online agreements, accessed by a link in an email. For example, they may ask you to
    • transfer copyright to the publisher, or
    • agree to a licence that restricts unnecessarily what you can do with the paper after publication.

            Sometimes publishers may be open to amending the contract in certain ways if you ask them.

  • Online repositories such as Academia.edu, ResearchGate and SSRN: these may be useful for networking and collaboration. However, please note:
    • these are not managed in the same way that an institutional repository such as City Research Online is, which means that embargos, copyright compliance, and other details are not checked (although SSRN does check that the paper is a part of the scholarly discourse in its subject area).
    • they are also not compliant with the HEFCE REF policy.
    • SSRN is now owned by Elsevier, who have imposed stringent conditions on what is posted there. For example, they are claiming a non-exclusive licence on anything that is not already published. See the terms of use for more information.
    • please do not put pdfs downloaded from electronic resources on these sites - normally this will breach the terms and conditions that we agree with suppliers. It may be possible to use either the preprint or postprint (depending on what the publisher allows).
  • Preprints: it is now common practice to share early drafts of papers online, particularly in certain disciplines. However, it may be wise to be aware if your intended journal has a policy relating to sharing early drafts - if very similar to the submitted version it may be regarded as prior publication.
  • Sharing papers online after publication:
    • Permission from the publisher may be necessary, unless the article is published with a Creative Commons or other open licence.
    • You may not be able to use the final published version, but it may be possible to use either the preprint or postprint (depending on what the publisher allows).
    • Please do not use pdfs downloaded from electronic resources - normally this will breach the terms and conditions that we agree with suppliers.
    • Check that co-authors are happy for the paper to be re-posted or re-published.
    • Use of papers for teaching by authors is often permitted (so these may be put on Moodle).