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ResearchOnline@JCU - Copyright

ResearchOnline@JCU Copyright Issues

Publication on ResearchOnline@JCU
Ownership of Copyright
Inclusion of the works of others
Managing your copyright
Publisher's policy on self-archiving
Publication agreement
Licence to publish
Copyright Act
Request for Third Party Copyright Permission Form
Readers and reproduction rights
Metadata rights
Copyright links - more information

COPYRIGHT generally refers to the exclusive right of authors to reproduce, publish, communicate, or make an adaptation of their own works. Third party copyright refers to the rights of those authors whose part of work has been included in another author's work. For example, research students may wish to include reproductions of paintings, photographs, graphical material, pieces of music, or video clips authored by another person as part of their thesis. If the thesis contains content subject to copyright held by others such as publishers, individuals, institutions, commercial concerns (i.e. third party copyright), then it is up to the thesis author to seek clearance or permission for inclusion of any third party copyright material.

Publication on ResearchOnline@JCU

Depositing your work in ResearchOnline@JCU does not mean that you have to then seek permission from JCU to publish elsewhere, or otherwise deal with the document.

Ownership of copyright

Publication on ResearchOnline@JCU has no effect on the ownership of the copyright in the document. This remains with the copyright owner who may be the author (original creator) until he/she transfers it to another entity.

Copyright owners have a number of exclusive rights, including:

  • the right to publish the material

  • the right to reproduce the work (for example, by copying or scanning)

  • the right to communicate the work to the public (for example, by making it available online, by emailing it or by faxing it)

Thus, assigning copyright, on an unconditional basis, to a publisher means that you may be giving away free access to your own work.

  • You may not be allowed to post a copy on your own Web site or deposit a copy in a repository.

  • You may have to ask permission, and perhaps even pay a royalty, to distribute copies to your classes or include your own work in a course pack.

  • Only subscribers to the journal (individually, institutionally or via a full-text database license) may be able to access your research. This can seriously restrict research impact and progress.

Inclusion of the works of others

If staff or students have reproduced someone else's copyright work in their research output, they must acknowledge it, and if they are publishing on ResearchOnline@JCU or elsewhere, may also need to seek permission to reproduce it. Note that material such as patents, diagrams, photographs, maps, tables, artwork, paintings, photographs, graphical material, pieces of music, or video clips may be copyright.

Individuals and libraries may cancel journal subscriptions further restricting access to your work and generally to research access and impact. The establishment of institutional repositories is one strategy by scholarly communities to promote the discovery of, and open access to, research. Open access is normally defined as free, permanent online access to the full text for anyone. The papers in ResearchOnline@JCU may become part of an international corpus of research literature that is discoverable and/or freely available online.

Managing your copyright

It may be possible to negotiate with publishers to retain some or all of your rights. At the very least, you should try to retain the right to self-archive a copy of your work in ResearchOnline@JCU. To ensure that you retain the right to deposit a copy of your work in ResearchOnline@JCU, a number of steps should be taken:

1. Check the publisher's policy on self-archiving

While journal publishers usually ask authors to assign copyright to them, many now allow self-archiving of postprints (post-refereed version of the work) in an institutional repository; others will grant clearance if a request is made. It is advisable to clarify the publisher's policy on self-archiving before submitting your article for peer review. The knowledge could influence your decision about how to manage your copyright.  The information may be on the journal's website. Look for links called "Notes to contributors" or "Information for authors". The information could be in the publishing contract. Read it carefully before signing. Here is an example of what to look for:

The Author(s) shall have the following rights

(4) The right to post and update the Article on free-access e-print servers as long as files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that purpose. Any such posting made or updated after acceptance of the Article for publication shall include a link to the online abstract in the APS journal or to the entry page of the journal. If the author wishes the APS-prepared version to be used for an online posting other than on the author(s)’ or employer’s website, APS permission is required; if permission is granted, APS will provide the Article as it was published in the journal, and use will be subject to APS terms and conditions.

Excerpt from the American Physical Society's Transfer of Copyright Agreement

If an author has previously published their research paper or for thesis authors, part of their thesis as journal articles, they need to determine who owns the copyright in those articles or publications. If the copyright is held or owned by another i.e. the document author has signed over the copyright to the journal publisher, then they may need to obtain clearance before submitting their thesis.

  • SHERPA RoMEO use for publisher copyright and self-archiving policies. Use this site to find a summary of permissions that are normally given as part of each publisher's copyright transfer agreement.

If the publisher allows authors to retain the right to self-archive, or if assignment of copyright is not required, there is no need to go onto the next step. You can deposit a copy of your paper in ResearchOnline@JCU. Some publishers do not formally support self-archiving, however, they often agree if a direct request is made.

2. Amend the publication agreement or deposit the preprint (preprint is the version of an academic paper which is submitted by an author for peer review) version.

If the publisher does not allow authors to self-archive postprints, you could adopt one of the following strategies:

Best strategy: Amend the publishing agreement to reserve some rights

If the existing contract does not specifically grant authors the right to self-archive a copy of the postprint it may be possible to cross out the relevant section of the existing agreement and insert a statement about the rights you wish to retain. For example:

The author transfers to {Publisher} the exclusive rights comprised in the copyright of the work, except that the author retains the following:

  • The right to self-archive a copy of the work in the author's institutional repository.

  • The right to make copies of all or part of the work for the author's use in teaching.

  • The right to use, after publication, all or part of this material in works by the author in print or electronic format.

Contact the publisher or journal editor to let them know what you are doing and why.

Alternative strategy: Retain your copyright and grant the publisher a "licence to publish"

You can choose to retain ownership of the copyright and grant the publisher an exclusive licence for the first formal publication of the work (in print, digital, or some other form). If an author grants an exclusive licence, only the licensee can use the work in the way covered by the licence. The author would need to ask for the licensee's permission to use the work in that way. In addition to this you could grant the publisher a non-exclusive licence for at least the following purposes:

  • Subsequent republication of the work

  • Reproduction in course packs

  • Reformatted publication (e.g., works transferred from print to microform and digital forms).

  • Distribution through document delivery services

  • Public performance and display of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works.

By granting non-exclusive rights to the publisher, the author retains the right to do any of these things without needing publisher permission. If the author grants a non-exclusive licence, the author can continue to use the work in the way covered by the licence and can grant other people non-exclusive licences to use the work in that way.

If there is no publisher agreement to sign, you can use sample licence agreements provided by SPARC or generated by Scholars' Copyright Addendum Engine.

For more information on licensing, see the Australian Copyright Council's 'Find An Answer Section' which has information sheets including: Assigning and Licensing Rights.

Last resort: Self-archive a copy of the preprint version

Unfortunately, some publishers may be resistant to the arguments in favour of repositories and refuse to negotiate on this issue. With these publishers, self-archiving the preprint may be the only option available.  Before a paper is submitted to a journal for peer review, the copyright belongs to the author. Hence, the author is always free to self-archive the preprint at this point in time. Many researchers routinely self-archive their preprints. Some publishers may insist that self-archived preprints are removed once the paper has been accepted for publication. Other publishers may be prepared to allow the preprint to remain. This varies between disciplines and between publishers within a discipline. See the relevant LibGuide .

Copyright Act

The Copyright Act Fair Dealing provisions allow for the inclusion of other authors' work for research purposes in unpublished materials such as theses and preprint research papers. However, when these documents are to be posted on the Internet, permission must be sought from the copyright owner/s to make their work/s available online.

Request for Third Party Copyright Permission Form

James Cook University Library has a Request for Third Party Copyright Permission form that can be used by James Cook University students and staff to make such requests. The form is based on a similar letter produced by the Queensland University of Technology.  The first section of the Copyright Permission form outlines the document author's request for copyright permission. As the document author you will need to include details of the relevant copyrighted work/s, your contact details and your document details on the form. The second section of the form is the copyright permission to be agreed to by the copyright owner. This Request for Third Party Copyright Permission Form is available for James Cook University staff and students as a download in Microsoft Word format.

Readers and reproduction rights

The documents in ResearchOnline@JCU are protected by copyright and it is the copyright owners who control reproduction rights. However, readers may print and save electronic copies of whole papers for individual, non-commercial use. As with printed books and journals, attribution of authorship is essential. Any excerpts, quotations or paraphrasing should be fully referenced. The text may not be published commercially (in print or electronic form), or altered without permission of the copyright owner.

Metadata rights

ResearchOnline@JCU metadata can be harvested by third parties for purposes related to the discovery of the archive's contents. However, harvesting the full text documents is not permitted.


The information provided in this document is intended as a general guide to JCU staff and students on the copyright issues that relate to the self-archiving of academic papers in the JCU institutional repository, ResearchOnline@JCU. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters.

While every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, James Cook University excludes any and all liability for any errors in or omissions from the information on this website or any third party website assessable from this website. For any further queries on copyright issues relating to ResearchOnline@JCU, please contact the ResearchOnline@JCU staff at James Cook University Library.

The following sites were consulted as sources of information in creating this copyright guide.