Skip to Main Content

Copyright: Researchers

Review of the copyright rules for teachers, students and researchers

Copyright as a Researcher

As a researcher, you are usually protected by copyright in relation to your research no matter its form: text, tables, graphs, illustrations etc. So, unless something else has been agreed upon in connection with your hiring, you will, as a researcher at a university, typically have the copyright to the works that you produce in connection with your research.

It is important that you are aware of the extent to which you wish to transfer your copyright to others. For example, this applies when you publish research, see below.

Forskerportalen (the Researcher Portal)

Forskerportalen (the Researcher Portal) is aimed at researchers at Danish research institutions. Here you can find information on the many legal and ethical issues that are important for research and researchers in connection with for example publishing, rights to research and research ethics.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is an organization that provides, among others, researchers and teachers with tools to adjust copyright easily. Thus, you do not need to enter into individual agreements on use.

Creative Commons is a way to state how your work may be used by others in relation to copyright. You can for example give permission to others to share your texts, adapt or further develop them. 

You need to be aware that Creative Commons licenses cannot be revoked. If your work is published with a Creative Commons licence once, then it is binding.

The licences consist of 4 types of rights that are combined into 6 licences.

Read more about Creative Commons. 

Sherpa Romeo

In Sherpa Romeo, you can see many publishers’ and journals’ copyright policies as well as what you can do with a published article, e.g. post it on your website.

Copyright in Connection with Publishing

Many researchers publish their research results through a publisher that they enter a contract with. Often, the contract stipulates that the publisher takes over all rights to an article or book. Thus, an exclusive agreement has been made where the author renounces all economic rights. However, moral rights cannot be transferred. 

If you in a negotiation with a publisher are presented with an author agreement that transfers all rights to the publisher (exclusive agreement), it can inhibit you from using your work in connection with disseminating and making your research visible.

You may therefore need to adjust the agreement, so it is acceptable to you.

Whether you may make your research results Open Access, i.e. freely available online, depends on copyright. As mentioned above, as an author, you transfer some of your copyright to a publisher in connection with publishing. The author agreement with the publisher specifies how you may share your research results. Many publishers are happy to publish research results Open Access, though often you have to pay for this. When it comes to journal articles, almost all publishers also allow you to archive the accepted version of the article, i.e. the version that has been through peer review and been amended, but has not yet formatted with the publisher's layout, freely available in an institutional repository and thereby make the article Open Access, usually after an embargo period. You can read more about Open Access at CBS here.

When you publish Open Access through a publisher, your research result will usually be assigned a Creative Commons licence that lets others know how they may use it. Increasingly, publishers also require that accepted versions archived in institutional repositories be assigned Creative Commons licences. Read more about Creative Commons here.

Common to model contracts is that they to a greater extent allow for, as a starting point, the author to retain their rights and only transfer certain rights to the publisher. Examples of specific use can be the publication of a certain number of books or publishing on different digital media platforms including the internet.

Examples of model contract:

  • The Committee for the Protection of Scientific Work (UBVA) under the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (Akademikerne) has together with the Danish Authors’ Society, Danish Publishers and Akademikerne drawn up a model contract for scientific and popular use.
    The contract covers both print and digital publishing, and only specific rights are transferred to the publisher in the contract. The author retains the remaining rights and can only make use of the rights that have not been transferred to the publisher. You need to be aware of the concept of loyalty that implies that you may not publish the work in a form that competes with the publisher’s possibilities to sell the work in accordance with the contract.

An author addendum to a publishing contract is a document that can be attached to a publishing contract in order to ensure the author certain rights.

It is important to make sure that a contract is binding and also includes the addenda. You should be especially aware of the following:

-    Draw attention to the fact that you will send an addendum to retain certain rights already when you negotiate with the publisher.
-    When the publisher signs the contract, it should be stated that there is an addenda attached to the contract.

The publisher should also sign the addendum.

Use Creative Commons' Scholar's Copyright Addendum Engine to generate your own author addendum.

Many international journals allow you to apply for permission to republish your own articles. Most journals use a service called “RightsLink” that is managed by Copyright Clearance Center.

To get started, you have to set up an account and then apply for permission

Use of Others' Material in Your Research

If you use the material of others in your research, you need to be aware of copyright and good research practice.

  • In your research, you may cite sources as long as you follow good citation practice. You can read more about citations and correct referencing on Forskerportalen (the Researcher Portal).
  • If you wish to use the images, graphs or the like of others in your research publication, you must have permission from the rights holder (most often both the author and the publisher).
    However, the Danish Copyright Act’s § 23 allows you to use works of art that have been made public, i.e. photographic works, visual art and architecture. You may use these types of works without permission from the rights holder so long as you do so in a scientific, critical context in connection with text, and your use is not for commercial purposes.

If you use personal data in your research, you need to be aware of several special conditions. You can read more about the processing of personal data on Forskerportalen (the Researcher Portal), in the Danish Data Protection Act as well as on the Danish Data Protection Agency’s website.

In-depth Literature

“Related” Areas to Copyright

Patent rights are the exclusive rights to an invention that can be obtained by issuing a patent after submission of an application. Thus, patent rights are part of intellectual property rights and invention rights.

CBS has created a Libguide (Patents and Research) with an overview of information resources where you can search for patents, trademarks etc.

The Danish Data Protection Act
The Danish Data Protection Agency 

Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation). The regulation came into force on 25 May 2018.

The European Commission’s guide on data protection for citizens 


Reference: "Research Guide to European Data Protection Law" by Steven S. McCarty-Snead & Anne Titus Hilby. International Journal of Legal Information, Summer 2014, 42, p. 348-418 (The article is available via the database Westlaw International)

  • This research guide provides an introduction to the key supranational sources of data protection law in Europe, academic and professional secondary sources commenting on that law and the major revisions being made to that law as of 2013. The guide aims to assist researchers and practitioners of European data protection law, including students, academics, government officials, representatives of companies doing business in Europe, privacy and free speech advocates and others involved in the transfer of personal data of citizens of Europeans.

The Committee for the Protection of Scientific Work (UBVA)

The Committee for Protection of Scientific Work (UBVA) is a standing committee under the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (Akademikerne) that represents the interests of academics related to copyright and patent law issues.

CBS Library, Solbjerg Plads 3, DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Homepage | Addresses and Opening Hours | Contact