Choose a licence for your research works

This page guides you through choosing the best licence to maximise free reuse of your work while promoting and protecting your rights.

What is a licence?

If you own the copyright in a work you'll probably want others to use it according to certain conditions. The permissions you give to others will come in the form of a copyright licence.

A licence is a legal agreement between you and the people who use your work. It makes clear how you intend others to reuse or share your work and what they need to do. 

Why apply a licence?

If you don't use a licence, the default position of "all rights reserved" will apply to your work. This means no reuse beyond those described by copyright law is allowed and it isn't clear how you intend your work to be reused. 

This lack of clarity means that people may: 

  • not use your work and therefore not cite or quote it
  • use the work anyway beyond your intent without giving you attribution. 

Applying a licence makes your intent clear and places the obligation to respect your wishes and rights on the user. 

Choosing a licence

Your choice of licence depends on:

If you are working with a publisher, they choose a licence with you and apply it to your work. Apply the same licence when you add your work to Kent Academic Repository (KAR) or the Kent Data Repository (KDR).

If you are not publishing in the formal sense (for example a thesis), you need to choose a licence at the point of uploading your work to KAR or KDR.

Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons licences can be used for any type of work, although there are specialist licences for data, software and creative works.

Use our list below or try the Creative Commons Licence Chooser tool.

Licence type Description
Attribution
CC-BY

Lets others distribute and build upon your work, even commercially. They must credit you for the original creation.

This is the most accommodating CC licence, recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials. 

Attribution-ShareAlike
CC BY-SA 

Lets others re-use and build upon your work even for commercial purposes. They must credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.

All new works based on yours will carry the same licence, so any derivatives will also allow commercial use.

It's the licence used by Wikipedia, and is recommended for materials that incorporate content from Wikipedia and similarly licensed projects.

Attribution-NoDerivs
CC BY-ND 

Allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to you.

Attribution-NonCommercial
CC BY-NC

Lets others re-use and build upon your work non-commercially.

Their new works must acknowledge you and be non-commercial, but they don’t have to licence their derivative works on the same terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Lets others re-use and build upon your work non-commercially, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under identical terms.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs
CC BY-NC-ND

The most restrictive CC licence. It allows others to download your work and share it, as long as they credit you.

They can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

CC0
No rights reserved

Allows others to freely build upon, enhance and reuse the work for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.

Data licences

These are specialist licences for databases and database contents.

The University has adopted FAIR data principles, which means you need to make your research data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Licence type Description
Open Data Commons Attribution 1.0
ODC-BY

A licence covering database structure, arrangement and organisation.

It lets others copy, share and use the database, build upon it, modify it and share new works. They must credit you and cite the licence. 

Equivalent Creative Commons licence is CC-BY, but the ODC licence includes warranty, disclaimer and limited liability.

Open Database License Attribution-Share Alike 1.0
ODC-ODbL

A licence covering database structure, arrangement and organisation.

It lets others copy, share and use the database, build upon it, modify it and produce new works from it. They must credit you and use the same licence to share the new works.

Equivalent Creative Commons licence is CC-BY-SA, but the ODC licence includes warranty, disclaimer and limited liability.

Open Database Contents License 1.0
ODC-DbCL

A licence for the contents of a database, as distinct from the database itself. 

Allows any use of the contents, including commercial.

Equivalent Creative Commons' licence is CC-BY, but the ODC licence includes disclaimers and a limitation of liability to protect you from any harm caused by reuse.

Software licences

These are specialist licences for software.

Licence type Description
GNU General Public License 3.0
GNU GPL

This licence enables you to share your software to make sure all versions remain free for all its users.

Collaborators must credit you, share new versions under the same licence and identify them as 'changed'. This means errors in the code are correctly attributed.

Clauses relating to Disclaimer of Warranty and Limitation of Liability also protect you from others' use of the software. It excludes use with commercial software.

Equivalent Creative Commons' licence is CC-BY-NC-SA, but that does not include the warranties and limited liabilities.

GNU Lesser General Public License 3.0
GNU LGPL

Use of the GNU Lesser General Public Licence restricts use of your software to proprietary programs and is thus less free.

It doesn't allow use by free programmes but is useful where features of the software are readily available for proprietary software through other libraries. 

Software packages: Artistic Licence 2.0

The licence allows you to retain artistic control over the development of a package while allowing it to be copied, modified, distributed, and/or redistributed as open source and free software

Any redistribution must include the original licence and disclosure of the source code.

The licence allows distribution of a modified version only where changes are clearly documented. The new version must have a different name and the same permissions or licence terms as the original. The creator cannot be held responsible for reuse of the package and is not liable for damages arising from its use

Creative work licences

These are specialist licences for creative works.

Licence type Description
Licence Art Libre 1.3 

The Free Art License grants the right to freely copy, distribute, perform and transform creative works without infringing the artist’s rights.

Incorporation of the work into another work must preserve the rights granted by this licence so that if the work can no longer be accessed separately the larger work must be subject to the same or similar licence (eg CC BY-SA).

Help

Need research support or advice? Email researchsupport@kent.ac.uk

Find out all the ways you can get in touch.  

Contact us

Research support links

Last updated