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Copyright and licensing for social media

© University of Hull

Last week, we introduced copyright in the context of research publication. This has implications for what you can and cannot share. Networking platforms such as ORCID, ResearchGate or LinkedIn enable researchers to create a profile and promote their research outputs to potential collaborators and readers. Their terms of service typically state that the profile owner is responsible for ensuring that they have retained the right to make their published work openly available on their profile: check your Agreement to Publish, or your publisher’s guidelines for authors. You always need to work within the bounds of these agreements and/or licences when sharing published work.

If you are self-publishing or sharing ideas, you may want to consider Creative Commons licencing.

Creative Commons and other open licences

Many researchers and educators choose to share their copyright work with a licence permitting other people to copy and re-use it free-of-charge, under certain conditions. Creative Commons is an internationally-recognised licensing scheme.

Creative Commons licence levels

  • CC-0 – Public domain: The creator has waived their right to restrict the use of this work.
  • CC-BY – Free to re-use with attribution
  • SA – Share alike: Any new material created from the licensed work must also have an open licence
  • ND – No derivatives: The work must be copied/used without adaptation, other than reformatting for users with a disability
  • NC​ – No commercial use permitted: Jisc has advised that UK university teaching is ‘non-commercial’, regardless of any fees paid by students. However, university marketing activities may not be covered.

Creative commons license spectrum between public domain (top) and all rights reserved (bottom). Left side indicates the use-cases allowed, right side the license components. The dark green area indicates Free Cultural Works compatible licenses, the two green areas compatibility with the Remix culture. Image by Shaddim (CC-BY)

Try out the Creative Commons Licence Chooser to identify a suitable licence for your own work, and the HTML code to embed it in your website.

Publications that originate from public sector bodies in the UK are assigned the Open Government Licence, which permits copying and re-use for any purpose, with attribution.

Software developers may choose to share their work with an open licence such as the GNU GPL or Apache. More information here about the range of licences supported on the GitHub platform.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Be aware that the US legal concept of “fair use” referenced in this video is slightly different to the UK’s “fair dealing”. For more information about the exceptions to English copyright protection which permit lawful re-use in a scholarly context, take a look at

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