Copyright and publishing

Using copyright material in your publications

The University Library provides copyright support for the UWA community to help staff and students understand their copyright obligations and, in doing so, maximise the use of copyright material in the publications they produce.

The Library can assist with:

Advice regarding the use of copyright material for education and research

Assistance with locating copyright-compliant resources

Online support materials and FAQs

Copyright awareness and training workshops

For more information, or for assistance with a query, contact us.

Copyright and permissions

Fair dealing provisions
Under the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, you can reproduce certain copyright material without needing the permission of the copyright owner for the purposes of research and study, or criticism or review, providing your use of the material is 'fair'. More information on the fair dealing provisions is available at Copyright at UWA.
Copyright material log

It’s important to keep a record of all third-party material you locate during your research, including a record of the copyright owner. You can record the details in a simple table or a spreadsheet.

Elements to include are: date you located the work, title and source of work, author/copyright owner name and contact details, page number or location in your research that you want to use the material in, whether permission is needed, and any conditions of use.

Date Title/source Author/copyright owner Page number or location in your research Permission required? Conditions of use? Permission obtained?








Download a more detailed asset register template below:

Obtaining permission

Unless your use is covered by an explicit licence (such as Creative Commons), or copyright in the material has expired, you will need the copyright owner's permission to use their material in publications. Permission must also be sought for unpublished material such as manuscripts and letters, confidential information and material subject to a contractual arrangement.

As seeking copyright permission can be a lengthy process, allow time for this – and, if necessary, follow up your initial request with a reminder.

To obtain permission:

  • Go to the source of the work to see if there is a licence which specifies conditions of use.
  • If you can't find a clear copyright owner, contact the publisher for clarification.
  • If permission is required, check if the publisher or owner has provided an online form; otherwise make your request in writing, either via email or using a permission letter. You can download a permission letter template:  Permission letter template [DOTX 105KB]
  • When requesting permission, explicitly state how much of the work you wish to use and how you wish to use it (in a book chapter, a journal article, or other form).
  • If permission is granted subject to a contract or requiring a fee, and you are unwilling to either sign or pay, you can seek further advice from the Librarian Support Team.

If permission has been granted it is important that you adhere to the UWA Research Integrity Policy [doc, 251 KB]. Ensure that you:

  • record and store the documentation as proof of copyright compliance
  • adhere to the copyright owner’s conditions of use
  • acknowledge the copyright owner and the source of the material through accurate referencing

All third-party materials (such as images, diagrams and tables) must be correctly attributed. Providing a URL is not enough – all citations should include the name of the creator (where known), year (of publication, where known), title, source (website URL) and other relevant information. This relates to the concept of moral rights [the Copyright at UWA webpage has more information on this], which are a creator’s right to correct attribution (to be identified as author of work). For guidance on referencing, refer to the UWA Library referencing guides.

In some circumstances you may find that you cannot obtain permission. If you cannot obtain permission to use the copyright material, you have three options:

  • Remove the copyright material from the publication.
  • Try to find an alternative source to replace the copyright material [find out more in the 'Free to use resources' section of the Copyright at UWA webpage].
  • Contact the Librarian Support Team to discuss your options further.

Protecting your copyright

In Australia, as soon as a work is produced in a material form (e.g. written down or filmed), it is automatically protected by copyright. You do not need to register your copyright, nor do you need to affix a copyright symbol (©), in order to benefit from copyright protection

It is advisable, however, to include a copyright statement on your work to notify others of the copyright owner and to advise of any reuse conditions. There is no set wording for a copyright statement; it can be as simple as the copyright symbol (a lower case ‘c’ in a circle) followed by the copyright owner’s name and the year the work was produced – for example, © John Smith 2022, or © University of Western Australia 2022.

For more information on protecting your copyright, see the Australian Copyright Council Protecting Your Copyright fact sheet.

Copyright ownership at UWA

Under the University’s Intellectual Property Policy, “the University owns Intellectual Property created by an Employee pursuant to a contract of service to the University excluding Teaching Materials and Scholarly Works.” 

Students own the intellectual property in work that they create unless they assign it in writing to others. Students always own the copyright in their theses.

For more information, see the UWA Intellectual Property Policy.

Include a full citation on your work
Along with the copyright statement, include the full citation for the work itself on each of your works, in your preferred reference style. This enables others to easily identify you as the creator and to correctly cite you in their own work. You may wish to also include contact details, such as an email address, to enable others to contact you to seek permission to reuse your work. 
Enable others to reuse your work with a Creative Commons licence

Creative Commons licences allow creators to grant permission to others to reuse their work within specified terms. There are six Creative Commons licences to choose from, and all six licences require attribution of the creator – so you will always be credited for your work. When you publish with a Creative Commons licence on your work, you still retain copyright of your work. 

The UWA Research Integrity Policy encourages the use of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence; see section 10(B)(9): "Researchers will - make publications available on Open Access under the most appropriate Creative Commons licence, and preferably the CC BY licence." 

Scholarly publishers will often offer one or more Creative Commons licence to choose from when publishing your work open access. See the Library’s Open Access Toolkit for more guidance on using Creative Commons licences. 

If you self-publish, you can simply add a Creative Commons licence statement to the beginning of your work; see the example on page 2 of this UWA Law School report, and in the footer of the UWA Library Guides webpage.

If you are publishing through the UWA Profiles and Research Repository, you can select your preferred Creative Commons licence during the upload process; see the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for more information.

Deposit your work in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository

Depositing a copy of your publication into the UWA Profiles and Research Repository can help to protect your work as:

  • The full bibliographic citation identifies you as the author and ensures the work is traceable. It cannot be mistaken for an 'orphan work' where copyright owners are difficult to identify.
  • There is a copyright statement alerting users to the conditions of use and the need to request permission for re-use.

See the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for guidance on adding publications to the Repository. 

Publishing agreements and the UWA Research Repository

Deciding where and how to publish is an important step in the research process. The University Library offers a regular program of workshops that provide guidance in relation to information and data discovery and management, copyright, publishing, and engagement with research outputs, including workshops on Open Access for Researchers, Authors Rights, and Where to Publish. More information is available in the Library Research Support Program guide.

The University supports the principle of Open Access by making publications freely available online within 12 months of publication through the UWA Research Repository. UWA authors are responsible for depositing copies of their publications in accordance with the UWA Research Integrity Policy.

More information on Open Access publishing options can be found in the Open Access Toolkit.

Publication agreements

Publishers will often request that you sign a publication agreement or contract in order to publish your research. Consider the following points before signing publication agreements.

1. Check the publisher's policy on self-archiving

While journal publishers usually ask authors to assign copyright to them, many now also allow self-archiving of the final accepted manuscript version in an institutional repository. Other publishers may grant permission if a request is made to them. It’s advisable to check the publisher's policy on self-archiving before submitting your article for peer review.

You may see the terms ‘preprint’, which refers to the draft version submitted by the author to the publisher, and ‘post-print’ or ‘Authors Accepted Manuscript’, which refers to the final accepted version.

Information on self-archiving may be on the journal's website. Look for links called ‘Notes to contributors’ or ‘Information for authors’. The information is also usually in the publishing contract. Read it carefully before signing. Here is an example of what to look for:

The author(s)… shall have the following rights:

The right to post and update the Article on free-access e-print servers as long as files prepared and/or formatted by APS or its vendors are not used for that purpose. Any such posting made or updated after acceptance of the Article for publication shall include a link to the online abstract in the APS journal or to the entry page of the journal. If the author wishes the APS-prepared version to be used for an online posting other than on the author(s)’ or employer’s website, APS permission is required; if permission is granted, APS will provide the Article as it was published in the journal, and use will be subject to APS terms and conditions. (excerpt from the American Physical Society's Transfer of Copyright Agreement).

The SHERPA/RoMEO website provides a list of publisher policies:

  • Publishers in GREEN support self-archiving of both the pre-print and post-print versions.
  • Publishers in YELLOW or BLUE may support some archiving rights, and changes or exceptions can often be negotiated by authors. A link to the relevant publisher information is generally provided, and should be checked.

Note: this information is not legally binding in Australia – your specific publisher agreement may be different.

If the publisher allows authors to retain the right to self-archive, or if assignment of copyright is not required, there is no need to go on to the next step; you can immediately deposit a copy of your paper in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository. Refer to the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for more information about making your publications available in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository.

2. Amend the publication agreement to deposit the final accepted manuscript version

If the publisher does not allow authors to self-archive the final accepted manuscript version, you could take one of two approaches:

a) Best strategy: Amend the publishing agreement to reserve some rights

If the existing agreement does not specifically grant authors the right to self-archive a copy of the final accepted version, it may be possible to cross out the relevant section of the existing agreement and insert a statement about the rights you wish to retain.

The UWA Research Integrity Policy states:

“Researchers will…avoid transferring copyright to the publisher and ensure publication contracts allow self-archiving of the Author's accepted manuscript in the UWA Profile and Research Repository. If self-archiving is not included in the publisher contract, then University Authors will request inclusion of the following addendum —

The Author has the right to publicly archive their revised, peer reviewed personal version of their paper in their institutional repository, provided a link to the version on the publisher website is included."

Contact the publisher or journal editor to let them know what you are doing and why. If you amend the agreement you need to ensure that the publisher/journal editor acknowledges – and agrees to – the amendments in order for them to be valid.

b) Alternative strategy: Retain your copyright and grant the publisher a ‘licence to publish’

You can choose to retain ownership of the copyright and grant the publisher an exclusive licence for the first formal publication of the work (in print, digital, or some other form).

Researchers who are employed by the US Government routinely use this strategy. They cannot assign copyright to publishers because the government retains the copyright. It is worth noting that the publishers continue to publish articles authored by these researchers.

In addition to this you could grant the publisher a non-exclusive licence for at least the following purposes:

  • subsequent republication of the work
  • reproduction for teaching purposes
  • reformatted publication (such as works transferred from print to microform and digital forms)
  • distribution through document delivery services
  • public performance and display of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, motion pictures, and other audiovisual works

By granting non-exclusive rights to the publisher, the author retains the right to do any of these things without needing publisher permission.

Cross out and replace the original exclusive transfer language with text such as the following:

The author grants to the Publisher exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive licence for other uses of the Work for the duration of its copyright in all languages, throughout the world, in all media.

 If you amend the agreement you need to ensure that the publisher/journal editor acknowledges – and agrees to – the amendments in order for them to be valid. The SPARC Author Rights webpage provides more guidance on this.

3. Make the publication metadata available in the UWA Profiles and Research Repository

Some publishers are very protective of what they perceive as their long-term interests (including financial interests) and will not allow any flexibility or rights to authors seeking to use institutional repositories.

UWA authors can still add their publication details (metadata) to the UWA Profiles and Research Repository, along with a link to the final published version. See the UWA Profiles and Research Repository Support guide for more information. 

Information on this page has been adapted with permission from Macquarie University and the University of Tasmania Copyright Toolkit for Researchers (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA licence).

This information is provided as general information only and is not intended to be comprehensive.

Stay in touch

Contact us to receive help and support from our friendly, knowledgeable staff. You can also share your feedback or make a suggestion and follow the UWA Library on social media to receive helpful tips and up-to-date information about our services.


Find answers to library FAQs anytime