Frequently asked questions
Copyright for authors
According to the Copyright Act, the person who created a work is generally the copyright owner. If several people have made an original contribution to the creation of a work, all the creators are jointly entitled to it. An exception to this is when the work is created under management and supervision (on the basis of which the person in charge holds the copyright). Of course it is always wise to make agreements beforehand about the copyright of a joint work.
This does not apply the work is created under direction and supervision (on the basis of which the person in charge holds the copyright). Of course it is always prudent to make agreements beforehand about the copyright of a joint work.
Copyright can be (partially) transferred by the creator or creators, for example to a publisher. Publishers often ask authors to relinquish and transfer the exploitation rights in a work. However, this is not necessary.
- Can I change my publisher’s standard contract?
- What rights should I keep and not transfer to my publisher?
Where a work is created by a creator under an employment contract, the copyright generally belongs to the employer, according to copyright law. This means that the University of Groningen can be regarded as the copyright holder.
In practice, University of Groningen authors are in principle regarded as copyright holders. They may make decisions about their own publications as though they were the copyright holders, for example in contracts with publishers or when deciding to share a publication under a particular license, such as a Creative Commons-licentie.
When it comes to educational material, the University of Groningen is the copyright holder.
You probably have joint copyright. Therefore, you will need permission from your co-author or authors for anything that you plan to do with the material, except if:
- Your work is part of a joint work, the individual works of which belong together and are adapted to each other but can be shared. For example, an article in a textbook.
- The contributions of several authors remain distinguishable.
If a publication is a joint and indivisible work, in which the various contributions of the authors can no longer be distinguished, you will always need permission from all the creators to exploit the publication.
You are under no obligation to transfer your copyright in full to a publisher. SURF has developed a model contract (License to Publish), with which an author can properly arrange the publication of an article with a publisher.
The License to Publish is aimed at scientists who publish in journals that use a subscription model. The author remains the owner of the material and can therefore, for instance, place the material in Pure or use it as teaching material. If the publisher agrees, you may use the publisher’s PDF. Public access can be postponed at the request of the publisher (embargo period).
No. Signing a standard publishing agreement that transfers the entire copyright to the publisher is not always necessary, nor is it to your advantage. A contract represents an agreement between two parties. Publishers will usually have a standard contract for publishing material but that does not mean that it cannot be changed. Be clear about what you want and ask your publisher to include it in the contract. It is often a matter of negotiation but you are certainly not obliged to sign a standard agreement just like that.
The standard contract used by your publisher is not binding as long as you do not sign it. Amendments can be made if you resist pressure from the publisher and communicate with them. You can negotiate the terms of the contract. Ask yourself: is this an exclusive license? Can the license be terminated?
Before and after negotiation
The most effective technique is to delete unwanted terms and write and initialize the changes you want.
The Dutch universities, in collaboration with SURF, have prepared an example of a License to Publish that you can use as a template.
Some of the most important rights to reserve when you publish include:
- the right to reuse an article for inclusion in a book, teaching materials, or a reader
- the right to rewrite and amend an article
- the right to distribute the article among peers
- the right to make copies of your article for teaching purposes
- the right to have the article included in full text in a repository, e.g. Pure
No, these activities do not affect your copyright. In principle, it does not matter whether a copy is made of a printed text or of an electronic file. The same restrictions to the reuse of material apply in both cases. No one can claim your work as their own and no one is allowed to modify or redistribute its content without your express permission, regardless of what the technical possibilities are.
Yes, that is the case, just as with any other digital document. However, this does not mean anything more than that users are allowed to store a copy of your publication on their own computer for their own use. The stress is on ‘for own use’. It is not permitted simply to duplicate or distribute the document.
If you have retained the copyright yourself, for example by publishing it open access, you can decide for yourself what you do with your work. You can distribute it without restrictions, for example via your own website or via Pure. You can use it for teaching purposes and you can modify it and make it a new publication.
If you have transferred the copyright to your publication to a publisher, the contract will state what you as the author are allowed to do with your publication. You will probably need permission from the publisher if you want to distribute your publication (for example via your own website or the website of a third party) or reuse it (for example, bundled with other publications).
However, your publication may become available in full text via Pure after six months. See: ‘Taverne Amendment’.
The pre-print and post-print versions of your article will generally allow you to do more. On SHERPA/RoMEO you will find information about the conditions for publishers and the rights that authors have to make an article freely accessible on their own website or in a repository.
The University asks you to provide your publication, both the publisher’s version (in PDF) and the post-print. The UB will check the publication rights before making the publication itself accessible. But if you have that information yourself, we ask you to include it under ‘Rights statement’.
It regularly happens that the publisher’s version may not be made available in full text but that a different version, a post-print or pre-print, may be made available. The UB will check this.
Exception: short publications
On the basis of Article 25fa of the Copyright Act (the ‘Taverne Amendment’), the University of Groningen has decided to introduce the Open access procedural regulations for short academic works by UG staff members , whereby publications by University of Groningen staff are automatically made available via the institutional repository six months after publication. This concerns the publisher’s version, also known as the Version of Record. This applies regardless of the embargo period applied by the publisher. For more information, see the UG ‘Taverne Amendment’ webpage or the UMCG - Taverne.
You are always allowed to share a link to your research output on platforms such as ResearchGate, Academia.edu, or ScholarMate. However, you may only share a PDF of your research output if you are the copyright holder of the work and the work is not restricted by contractual agreements (e.g. regarding confidentiality). In most cases, however, the copyright of research articles, reports, or books is transferred to the publisher. Therefore, check whether the publisher’s terms allow you to share your article or other research output on ResearchGate, Academia.edu, or ScholarMate, for example using SHERPA/RoMEO or by checking your contract with the publisher.
In many cases, publishers allow the sharing of the post-print or pre-print versions of your article, sometimes after an embargo.
Open access copyright
When you submit an article to a traditional journal, you may have to transfer your copyright by signing a ‘copyright transfer agreement’. When you publish in open access journals, you retain the copyright. Open access articles are published under public copyright licenses (such as Creative Commons licenses). This means that you retain the copyright and indicate (by way of license) what others may do with the article.
Creative Commons licenses are public copyright licenses. By assigning a Creative Commons license to your publication, you retain all of your rights, but give others permission to disseminate the work, share it with others and – with some licenses – to edit the work. With a choice of six standard licenses available free of charge), you can determine the extent to which your work may be further distributed and on what terms and conditions.
Your funding provider may have a specific policy regarding CC licenses (e.g. cOAlition S funders require the use of CC BY).
Although the UG encourages the use of the least restrictive license (CC BY) where possible, it does not prescribe the use of a specific license.
If you are not sure which license to choose, please contact us or consult the Guide to Creative Commons for Scholarly Publications and Educational Resources.
Article 25fa of the Dutch Copyright Act (Aw, Auteurswet), also known as the Taverne amendment, grants the author of any short scientific work the right to make this work freely available to the public, following ‘a reasonable term’ after its publication.
More information: Amendement van Taverne.
Copyright for dissertations
The PhD regulations oblige the PhD student to submit an electronic version of their dissertation via Hora Finita to the University of Groningen Library. The PhD student must sign the license agreement offered via Hora Finita for non-exclusive publication of the dissertation via the University of Groningen Repository (Pure). By doing so, the PhD student will retain copyright, and can therefore choose a publisher for a possible commercial edition.
You should state under Exception 2 of the license contract which chapters this concerns and the UB will then set a one-year embargo for the relevant chapters. If, in the course of that year, it appears that the embargo needs to be extended, you can submit a request to this effect via dissertations rug.nl.
Copyright in teaching
No, only when a file is legally shared on the Internet, e.g. it is shared on a publisher’s or author’s own website, you can use a link to that file. You should never use links to files that are available on questionable websites, i.e. websites that are not clearly associated with the publisher or the author, as the materials might be shared there illegally.
Placing (publishing) hyperlinks is not considered copying or duplication and therefore does not infringe anyone’s copyrights. The prerequisite is that the information has been published legally.
No, this is not allowed. For the publication or distribution of (parts of) a publication you need, according to the Copyright Act, permission of the copyright holder. This may be the author or the publisher. The University Library can investigate whether they can purchase the publication in a digital form, in order to give students access to it. Please contact copyright rug.nl for more information. Do you work at the UMCG? Please contact auteursrecht umcg.nl.
That depends. Has your work been published by a publisher? Once a work has been published, the publisher usually owns part (or even all!) of the copyright and you cannot upload your publication to Brightspace without the publisher's permission.
If the work has not been published by a publisher, you hold all copyrights and can use the work as you wish, provided the source is acknowledged.
Yes, you can. In that case please contact copyright rug.nl. Do you work at the UMCG? Please contact auteursrecht umcg.nl. Please send proof of consent, the Brightspace course code and the document concerned.
Teaching staff can continue to upload recordings of their lectures to Brightspace, but should not upload these recordings to any other platforms.
As a result of the changes in the Copyright Act, the rules for the online classroom have now been aligned with the rules for the physical classroom. This means that you have more options to reuse copyright-protected material during an online class, without having to ask permission beforehand. However, it does not mean that there are more possibilities to share copyrighted material within Brightspace, nothing has changed there. Please check the source of your choice under 'Lectures' to see what possibilities you have within your college.
No, the same copyright laws and policy are applicable - you cannot upload (PDF) files with journal articles or (chapters of) books to Google Drive, Dropbox or other platforms to distribute them to students as part of your course.
Academic researchers often post the full text of their published articles on ResearchGate. Making the full text available on ResearchGate suggests that reuse is allowed. This is not always the case.
Most publishers do not allow the placement of articles published in their journals on ResearchGate, let alone their reuse. As it is not allowed to link to copyrighted content that has been placed illegally (without the permission of the rightholder), linking to these articles is therefore also not allowed.
Check whether a license has been attached to the article that allows reuse (CC BY license). If in doubt, please contact the publisher/author.
You must meet certain requirements. The quotation must:
serve a purpose; the quotation must be used for announcement, review, in a scientific treatise or similar purpose;
be proportionate; you may not quote more than necessary;
the source and the author's name must be mentioned;
derived from an already published source.
Digital educational material:
For publications, but also for images/figures/tables, the following applies: you must always cite the source.
- Name creator/author
- Title of publication
- Year of publication
- ISBN/ISSN number (if applicable)
- Year and issue number (for journals and newspapers)
The following also applies:
- Image from the internet? Include a link to the original source.
- Image from a book? Name of publisher, year and page number.
- Open material? Add the licence used. See also: Best practices for attribution
If you want to use the materials of others when making a presentation or a poster, follow the advice on Dealing with copyright in education. Look there for the type of material you want to use. When it comes to a presentation during a lecture, look under ‘Lectures. If you would like to place the presentation on Brightspace/Nestor, look under ‘E-learning (Brightspace)’.
Perusall is an innovative online social platform for collaboration between students and lecturers, in preparing for class.
More information: Active Learning Template Perusall
If you have questions on Perusall, pleae contact the Educational Innovation & Evaluation team via edusupport rug.nl.
Other copyright matters
Request-a-copy operates on the principle of peer-to-peer sharing: you may request the full-text of a publication from the author. The UB acts as an intermediary.
More information: Request-a-copy.
TDM is available to researchers for all works to which they have lawful access. Legitimate access means that the works are legally and freely accessible on the internet or that the researcher has access through their institution’s licenses. The research must serve a scientific purpose.
Are you a researcher at the University of Groningen and have you made a patentable invention? Or do you want to start a business based on intellectual property of the University of Groningen? Please contact IP & Business Development for advice and guidance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion, enable lecturers, researchers, and students to generate texts and images for various purposes. However, the use of these tools in the university setting raises complex questions about copyright. For example, who - if anyone - owns the copyright on AI-generated output? And does copyright infringement occur when the training data that were used to generate this output contains copyrighted material? At this moment, it is difficult to provide clear-cut or definitive answers to these questions.
However, some guidelines can be given when using AI-generated text or images:
Always provide a reference when using an AI-generated text or image by mentioning the tool that was used to generate the output. You may also want to specify who wrote the prompts. For instance, if you are including an AI-generated image in a paper you wrote, an example reference could be: ‘This image was generated by DALL-E based on prompts from the writer’.
Make sure to adhere to the terms and conditions for the tool you are using, which may include specific terms on how to reference. Some AI tools have formulated their own licensing requirements. AI tool Midjourney, for example, states in their Terms of Service that unpaid users need to use a CC BY-NC 4.0 license on generated images.
If an AI tool allows users to feed the AI tool with their own input (i.e., existing images taken from websites or magazines that are copyright protected), using them as AI input without permission from the copyright owner could be understood as copyright infringement. To avoid this, only use open source images when working with such tools. In the Library Guide Open Educational Resources you can find a list of possible open source images.
Due to ongoing debates surrounding copyright, research integrity, data privacy, and consent with regard to the use of AI tools, some publishers, such as Nature , do not allow the use of AI-generated images, videos, and/or text in their publications.
Computer programs (software) are copyrighted. Copying and distributing software is not allowed without permission from the copyright holder. Copyright applies only to the source code and/or object code as such. The functionality, programming language and associated file formats are not part of the code and are purely functional. These are not protected by copyright.
As a programmer, in order to have your software protected by copyright, no formal acts are necessary (just as with books, articles, movies, etc.). Copyright arises by operation of law. However, one should always be aware that not all parts of the software are covered by copyright.
Many software licenses exist. Often these licenses impose all kinds of restrictions on researchers, but some give more freedom to use and reuse licensed software.
Do you have questions about copyright? Please contact copyright rug.nl.
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|Last modified:||28 September 2023 1.30 p.m.|