The copyright in all published work is owned by the author, unless and until s/he assigns that right to a publisher or someone else. Some publishers allow authors to retain copyright, while others ask for copyright to be assigned to them on the grounds that it facilitates negotiating subsidiary licences, dealing on an author’s behalf with abuse of moral rights, protecting intellectual property or copyright infringement. Such assignment may result in some restrictions on how the author can make use of the published work.
Creative Commons (CC) licences enable the copyright owner to stipulate the conditions under which a work may be used. There are many different CC licences, each defining a set of rights and restrictions on the use that may be made of a published work, covering such issues as derivative works, commercial and non-commercial use and so on. Information about the various licences is available on the CC website.
RCUK and Wellcome policies prescribe the use of a Creative Commons CC-BY licence for work published with the payment of an APC. This licence imposes a single condition: subsequent users must attribute the work in the manner required by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse the user or the use of the work). For works published without the payment of an APC, RCUK does not specify a licence, but requires that there should be no restrictions on non-commercial use.
A workshop to consider issues that had been raised relating to the use of a CC-BY licence in the humanities and social sciences was held on 24 April. The aim of the workshop was to explore, and better understand, the arguments that have been articulated against the use of the CC-BY licence, and to identify what might be done to help mitigate those concerns. A note of that meeting is here. Note of Wellcome workshop on CC-BY in hums and soc sci final.
Use of published works for text and data mining has been the subject of much debate. The Hargreaves Report recommended a change in copyright rules to allow researchers to use text and data mining techniques that are currently prohibited by law. The Government has accepted that recommendation, but it is not yet clear when the changes might be introduced.
Last update: 17 May 2013