Copyright and licensing your materials
When putting material online, it is a good idea to choose an intellectual property licence. This makes clear whether reproduction and reuse are allowable. By declaring your intent at the outset, you can avoid having to deal with lots of permission requests from users.
The licensing decision has to be made by the intellectual property owner, which is not necessarily the author. It may be the author's employer or the body that paid for the content to be created.
Copyright: all rights reserved
This would mean that users cannot make further copies of your material without your permission. Copyright applies by default as soon as you make an original work, but you can make your intention clear by adding an explicit statement.
Public Domain: no rights reserved
Very old creative works, including the music of Mozart and Beethoven or the writings of Newton and Shakespeare, are in the public domain. It is not common for academics to release work to the public domain, but you have the option to do this by creating a formal declaration.
Creative Commons: some rights reserved
This is a middle way that preserves some rights of the author, but guarantees some rights of the end user. There are various flavours of CC licence. You indicate the one that applies to your work by making a web link.
One version that fits with the academic ethos is Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike.
- Attribution means that anyone making use of the content must credit the original source (just as if you use someone's work in your research you would have to credit them).
- Non-commercial prevents anyone from packaging your content and selling it for profit.
- Share Alike means that anyone who uses your work to make a derivative work has to share the new work under the same terms.
To licence your work in this way, include the statement, "This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence" and make a link to http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ . Other kinds of Creative Commons licence are available, which strike slightly different balances between the rights of creators and users.
A great deal of text, music, images and other content is available online under Creative Commons licenses. The Google search engine has an option under Advanced Search to search resources with specific usage rights.The photo sharing site Flickr, for example, makes it easy to find creative commons images, and add a CC licence to your own photos.
- Creative Commons- frequently asked questions
- IPR and licensing module by the JISC Strategic Content Alliance
- JISC Digital Media advice sheet: Copyright, Data Protection and other IPR
- Science Commons: a project to make scientific data and research more openly accessible and reusable