Copyright & Licensing help

If you are unsure how to answer the Copyright & Licensing section of the application form, use the resources on this page to help you.

In May 2015, DOAJ published two posts, on the DOAJ News Service, which delved into the incompatibilities that can exist between copyright and licensing, Creative Commons licensed in particular.

  • Part One explains the differences between copyright and licensing. It provides longer explanations of what Questions 45 to 50 are asking for. Read these definitions before answering the questions in the application.
  • Part Two studies, in detail, the different contexts where incompatibilities between copyright and licensing occur. It illustrates each scenario with real instances of copyright and licensing, taken from a variety of publishers. It also contains a reading list for those who wish to find out more.

If you have any questions about copyright and licensing, leave your question at the bottom of either of the two posts and we will be in touch!

How to apply Creative Commons licenses to your work
Here are things that you need to consider if you want to start applying Creative Commons (CC) licenses to your journal and articles:
  1. IMPORTANT Before you start, you must be clear on whether you intend copyright to be retained by the author or whether it must be transferred to the journal. This will determine which license you choose and the wording you must display on each article.
  2. Decide which license you want to use. Use Creative Common's simple and easy license chooser tool. Be sure to copy the HTML code that it generates. This is important for Question 45 in the DOAJ application form.
  3. Decide a realistic start date and volume/issue to publish CC licenses on the articles. We recommend that this is at the start of a new volume, or at the beginning of a year but can really be whenever you like. It will depend very much on how easy it is to get the licensing images and text into your articles. (See Steps 4-7 below).
  4. If you use a manuscript submission system, you may want to configure it so that it adds CC license information to the content automatically.
  5. Decide on how far back you want to apply the licenses. Will you apply them to older content at all?
  6. If you publish HTML abstracts, full text HTML or PDFs of your articles, you should display the license in them, using the code from Step 2. (Displaying a logo in the footer of the site is not adequate.) Decide where on the article you want the licensing information to appear. Will it be in a new 'License' section, or as a footnote to the article itself? You may have to talk to the people who host your content as they may have restrictions on where you can display the license. Remember that the license must be displayed on every abstract and full text article and ideally will be embedded in the HTML. For the PDFS, decide where on the PDFs the licensing information will appear. You may have to talk to your production department, Adobe InDesign operator, typesetter, or printer. They will need the correct licensing image from Step 2. If you want to embed the licensing information in the PDF, then they will need the code from Step 2. They should also understand how to use XMP to embed the licensing information in your PDFs.
  7. We recommend that you add licensing information to all versions of your content. However, to answer yes to Question 45 in the DOAJ application form you need only do one of these.
  8. Although the license on every article will link to terms on the Creative Commons site, you will need a page on your journal site that explains both the terms of the license you have chosen and the copyright terms you exert over the content. This page must be clearly written and easy to understand for both authors and regular users. The page must also be easy to find and must be linked to from the journal's home page. If you publish more than one journal it should be linked from every journal homepage.
  9. Decide what the policy will be for archive material. Will you license all the archive? If so, you may need to contact the authors of the older content.

If you have questions, need help or want advice, ask Dom: dom[at]doaj[.]org

What is the significance of embedding or displaying licensing information in article content?

Question 45 of the DOAJ application form asks: 'Does the journal embed or display licensing information in its articles?' Why do we want to know that and why is it important?

When an open access article is published online, it isn't long before the content shows up in search engines like Google. When article metadata is uploaded to DOAJ, third party aggregator services like EBSCO, or library portals at academic institutions pick up the metadata for ingestion into their own products. The articles will appear in search results and people who access them will surf in directly from those results. They may download the PDF, save it and distribute it further without ever having visited your home page or Archive page, licensing page or copyright terms. At this point, the article is essentially orphaned from the journal or website where it was originally published.

The effect that this has is that people read the content in isolation of the terms and conditions applied to the publication of that article. To combat this, article metadata and PDFs should include as much information as possible so that the reader of the article understands: where and when the article was published; what copyright applies to it; what they may do with the content. This last part is essential so that people using, reading, copying or building on the research in the article may do so without breaking the licensing terms. DOAJ recommends that you display licensing information in the HTML view of the article - displaying a licensing logo only in the footer of the site is not adequate - and on the PDF.

Creative Commons actually make a recommendation that licensing information is "embedded" in the HTML and PDF view of an article. If you'd like further guidance on how to do this, use the Creative Commons license chooser which generates the correct code for you.

If you have questions, need help or want further advice, send an email to : feedback[at]doaj[.]org