IS research support



Copyright and licences - choosing the best option for your work

This page explains the licensing options for your research publications and how to select the most appropriate licence for your needs. A licence is a legal agreement that determines the rights you and others have to reuse your work. Creative Commons licences allow varying degrees of reuse, all defined below.

Your funder and the publishing route you choose may determine the licensing options you have.

Copyright in research outputs

Copyright restricts the reproduction and sharing of research outputs, because the copyright owner has to give permission for any re-use of the work.

Although you (the author) are likely to be the first owner of copyright, publishers often demand that you transfer copyright ownership to them at the agreement to publish stage. This means you no longer have the right to make copies, publish, or use your work without the publisher's permission, although they will often give you permission to use it for your own research or teaching.

Creative Commons licences

The default position of copyright is that "all rights are reserved". In contrast, Creative Commons (CC) licences apply a "some rights reserved" model.

Like the goals of Open Access, the aim of CC licences is to realise the full potential of the internet and provide universal access to creative works. You can choose from the various CC licences when you deposit your content in KAR.

Licence options

Licence type Symbol Description

All rights reserved.

Not a Creative Commons licence.

All rights reserved

By not specifying a licence you are by default reserving all rights.

Any reuse of the work, eg distribution, adaptation or commercialisation is subject to the restrictions of copyright law. People have to contact the author or rights holder if they want to do any of these things.



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.



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.



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



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.



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.



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.


No rights reserved

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.

It's often used to make sharing of data easier.

How to apply a Creative Commons licence

Creative Commons licences are free to apply to your work. To get a CC licence you can either use the CC licence chooser tool or select the appropriate option when you deposit your article in KAR.

Creative Commons licences can't be revoked once issued, so make sure you choose the right one.

Green and Gold Open Access

If you choose Green Open Access you need to check with your publisher and funder which type of licence you should apply. To check:

If you choose Gold Open Access a Creative Commons licence is usually applied. You should clarify this as part of the publication process.

Funder requirements for licences

Your funder may specify what type of licence you need to apply to your work as a condition of your research funding. For example:

  • HEFCE Research Excellence Framework: no specific licence is mandatory, but they advise that a CC BY-NC-ND licence or a CC BY licence meet their requirements.
  • UKRI:
    • Gold Open Access (with an APC): a CC BY licence must be applied. 
    • Green Open Access: no specific licence is required but they advise that a CC BY NC licence would meet their requirements
  • Horizon 2020: no specific licence is mandatory but researchers are encouraged to apply CC BY or CC 0 licences

Find details of other funders’ requirements on Sherpa Juliet.


Library Services, University of Kent

Contact the Library  |  Give Library feedback | Library Regulations

Last Updated: 14/02/2019