Guide to Copyright and the Research Repository - eTheses
These are also unpublished documents. Custom and practice in UK HE institutions is that the student retains the rights in their work but it is a condition of their award that they grant permissions to the institution to enable administrative and scholarly functions to take place, like digital archiving. The granting of these permissions does not transfer ownership of copyright to the institution but grants licence for functions inherent in Open Access Archiving to be performed. The student also has to undertake some declarations regarding ownership of the material in their work, and their understanding of the responsibilities they are undertaking.
These permissions and declarations are included in the Deposit Licence, the Freedom of Information Conditions of Restriction Statement and the End User Licence Agreement which are all included as part of the submission form. The agreements and declarations cover the following areas:
Ownership - A declaration of authority to make the agreement to archive the thesis on the repository.
The student is responsible for checking that the work is their own and they have the right to grant permission for Open Access Archiving. Under UK copyright law the reproduction of material in which a third party owns the copyright in a thesis submitted for the purpose of examination was tolerated. However, publication of the same material on the internet as a part of the students work is not tolerated. Only the student is able to identify this work and practically they must obtain permissions, check ownership etc, but this is no more than would be expected of any publishing author. Also, the Repository staff are happy to provide training, advice or practical help in identifying and gaining clearance for potentially infringing content. Various solutions exist, for instance, it may be that the student is advised to include the infringing materials in an appendix which is uploaded with the main thesis but hidden from public view. Alternatively, publication of the whole thesis could be embargoed, or delayed for a period of time, until clearance can be gained.
Other reasons for embargoing a thesis are that the work was created with a partner or sponsor who has rights invested in it. The student will need to declare any obligations like these. Any agreements made by the student at the start of their studies should include the right for the student to have their work included on the institutional repository as part of an Open Access archive, even if they do not assert ownership of Copyright.
Patents – The granting of a patent is dependent on the details of the product not being in the public domain.
The student should also make it known to repository staff if they are intending to apply for a patent based on their work. If this is the case publication may compromise the application and an embargo should be sought.
Confidentiality – Information may be given in confidence or protected by contract or data protection legislation.
Patient confidentiality or commercial interest may also form the grounds for an embargo and should be declared.
Freedom of Information Act
A further declaration is required if any of the work should be withheld from a response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act. The University is obliged to respond to these requests and unless the student is able to provide a valid reason why material should not be disclosed, they must also comply.
Permissions to store and make the work available via the internet
Until now the authors of theses have granted the University the right to make the work available via the library, make metadata available on the library catalogue and provide copies to the British Library for loan or sale. However, with digital deposit, the student needs to grant the University additional permission to electronically store, copy and translate their work to any medium or format. This is for the purpose of future preservation and accessibility, and carries no obligation to reproduce or display the work in the original format or resolution. The authors’ moral rights are preserved so the institution is still obliged to ensure that the quality of the work is maintained in any new formats or resolutions, as far as possible. This permission is non- exclusive and does not prevent the author from granting similar, non-exclusive, rights to others, or from publishing it themselves. Integral to this permission are some understandings about what will happen to their work, the student needs to make:
- A declaration of understanding that this means the work will be accessible to a wide variety of people and institutions, including automated agents, via the internet. Automated agents include harvesters, bots and spiders used by the British Library, Google etc to list the work and make it visible to search engines.
- A declaration of understanding that metadata about the work will be incorporated into the repository and remain there even if the work itself is subsequently taken down or hidden form public access, or up-dated by the author. These actions can take place after discussion with the repository and/or research administrators, but the metadata describing the work will remain available in perpetuity.