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Disseminate research findings: Licensing

Publisher Agreements: Assigning and Licensing Your Copyright

Creators can assign their copyright in their work to someone else. This means copyright ownership is transferred and the creator loses their exclusive rights. For example, an academic decides to publish an article in a journal and must assign their copyright to the journal publisher. This can put you in the position where you must seek copyright clearance to use your own work in other ways.

Creators can licence their copyright to someone else. This means you retain copyright ownership but allow the licensee the right to use your work in a particular way. For example, an academic may negotiate with a journal publisher to permit them to publish their work in a particular publication only.

Agreements to assign or licence copyright should always be in writing. It is highly recommended that staff and students seriously consider the terms and conditions of publisher agreements before signing, particularly if asked you are asked to assign copyright to the publisher. Check what rights you will retain and what rights you sign away. Are you permitted to include your work in an institutional repository like espace? Can you re-use the tables, figures or diagrams in your paper for future publications without seeking permission from the publisher?

What is an open licence?

An open licence facilitates the sharing and re-use of works. By attaching an open licence to a work, the public know immediately what they can and cannot do with it without having to identify and locate the copyright holder to request permission.

Use of open licences aligns with the University’s principles for open access as detailed in Curtin's Open Access Guidance Document, specifically the University’s position that research findings should be disseminated as broadly as possible to maximise impact and benefit the broader community.

In Australia, AusGOAL (Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework) is endorsed by a number of organisations to ensure a common approach to open licensing.  Further information on AusGOAL licensing options, which include Creative Commons licences, can be found on AusGOAL's website.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is the most common open licence. Works with a Creative Commons licence attached can be copied, shared and re-used as long as you abide by the licence conditions. There are four conditions that may apply depending on the licence:

  • Attribution (BY) – a requirement of all CC licences, the creator must be properly acknowledged as the author of the work.
  • Non-Commercial (NC) – any use is restricted to non-commercial purposes.
  • No Derivative Works (ND) – creating a derivative work, for example by adapting or modifying, is not permitted.
  • Share Alike (SA) – creating a derivative work is permitted only if the new work is made available under the same CC licence conditions.

Creative Commons Australia provides further information on how to use a CC licence or licenced material.

The Library acknowledges each work needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis in order to determine the suitability of attaching a Creative Commons licence. However the Library strongly endorses the use of the CC-BY licence as this is the least restrictive of the Creative Commons licences and meets the Freedom Defined definition of a ‘Free Cultural Work’. Works licensed under CC-BY are truly ‘open’.

Did you know...

Once you have assigned copyright to the publisher, publishers are free to do whatever they like with your work, subject to the terms of the publishing agreement. Some journal publishers assign Creative Commons licences to your work on your behalf.

For example, Elsevier require researchers deposit the accepted version of their works to repositories using a CC-BY-NC-ND licence.