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Copyright at UNSW

Open access

Material that is open access has been made available, through a licence, for others to use without the need to get permission from the copyright owner.

A licence may allow unrestricted use of the material or it may have restrictions on some types of uses. It may also have requirements about how the material should be cited or attributed. Before using open access materials, it is essential to check the licence permissions and restrictions.

Open access licences can be attached to all copyright materials, not just scholarly publications, but the open access movement is well established in the scholarly publishing space.

Creative commons

Creative Commons is an example of a not-for-profit organisation that helps creators and users share materials by providing free legal tools such as open access licences.

A Creative Commons licence is an easily identifiable way for copyright owners to give others permission to use their materials within the stated guidelines. Before using any material, it is important to check which licence has been applied to understand the approved uses.

There are six main Creatives Commons licences:

  • Attribution (CC BY): the material must be attributed to the creator
  • Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA): the material must be attributed to the creator, and your material must be licenced in the same way
  • Attribution-NoDerivs (CC BY-ND): the material must be attributed to the creator, and it cannot be adapted
  • Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC): the material must be attributed to the creator, and it cannot be used for commercial purposes
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA): the material must be attributed to the creator, it cannot be used for commercial purposes, and your material must be licenced in the same way
  • Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND): the material must be attributed to the creator, it cannot be used for commercial purposes, and it cannot be adapted

For more detailed information about the licences and how materials can be used, see Creative Commons: about the licenses

In addition to the attribution requirement of Creative Commons licences, the Copyright Act requires attribution when someone else’s material is reproduced, published, exhibited in public, communicated or adapted. Find out more about Moral rights

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