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ORA: Oxford University Research Archive: Copyright

A guide to using ORA for storing and disseminating digital copies of Oxford research publications including theses

Copyright and other legal issues

All content made available via ORA should comply with relevant rights. Every effort has been made to ensure that content does not infringe rightsholders' rights. The below information aims to support authors in understanding their rights and obtaining permission to make content available in the repository.


The Bodleian Libraries provides some information to end users about the legitimate use and re-use of items held in ORA. However, the Bodleian Libraries and the University of Oxford is not responsible for any improper use made of the items by other parties.

Staff at Oxford University Research Archive (ORA) endeavour to comply with copyright permissions for all content of the archive. If they are made aware of the possibility of infringement of copyright for any item in ORA, the item will be removed from the archive as soon as possible whilst the complaint is investigated.

ORA staff may offer advice and assistance checking and clearing copyright held by third parties but the responsibility for making an item available via ORA lies with the depositor. This is covered in more detail within the licence agreed to upon deposit to the archive.

Copyright guide for authors

Does copyright allow me to deposit this item in ORA?

Yes. You can deposit your work to ORA for archival purposes without infringing in copyright. The majority of stipulations within copyright come with how the work can be made available via the repository interface. 

However if:

  • you own the copyright of the item
  • you have the permission of the copyright owner(s) and any co-authors to deposit it in ORA 
  • or, the work is out of copyright

then making the content availabel in ORA is relatively straightforward.

More on copyright

Copyright permissions includes content within the item where copyright is held by a third party eg photographs or extracts. Limited amounts of such content might be permitted under 'fair dealing' or another exception. Somefurther information on copyright exceptions can be found at:

NOTE: Most journal publishers permit deposit of a full-text version of the article in ORA. There is a helpful website of publisher policies at

Books and book sections usually have to be considered on a case by case basis though a growing number of publisher's are making information available regarding self-archiving policies. In most cases a conversation with the editor is enough to understand what is allowed within the publishing agreement. 

Published Open Access items and ORA

If you have chosen to publish your work with a publisher via their paid Open Access method, commonly referred to as 'Gold Open Access', the choice of Creative Commons License you attribute to your work along with the publisher's Open Access policy will determine how your work can be disseminated in ORA. Usually when selecting the Gold Open Access option the final published PDF of full-text can be used for institutional deposit in ORA. 

For more information on Gold Open Access and CC Licences see the Open Access Oxford website and Creative Commons website.

Copyright Transfer Agreements (CTA) or licence to publish

When submitting an article for publication it is likely you will be presented with a CTA or licence to publish.

  1. Read the CTA or licence carefully before signing and make sure it allows you to carry out actions that you need (eg to re-use it or distribute it as you wish including via ORA)
  2. If not, consider amending the document or approaching the publisher to agree an amendment

Some of the 'traps' or 'pitfalls' within these agreements are discussed in the paper "Help! I'm and author - get me out of here"

Preservation only

If you are not able to disseminate the item in ORA because of copyright you may well be able to deposit a copy to be held under embargo for preservation purposes and to which access is restricted. There can be a link to the publisher's version (if applicable) on the freely available item record. You will benefit from the additional publicity of your work via the item record.

Which version of an article can I deposit?

  • There will be several different versions of your work between completion and publication. Different publishers permit you to deposit different versions in ORA. Common options are:
    • Publisher’s version (either the publisher’s PDF or other version). The publisher holds the copyright in the typography and layout of the work.
    • Author’s final accepted manuscript after peer-review including amendments made following peer-review but not including publisher’s typesetting and editing. Often known as a post-print (although publishers may refer to this version as a pre-print – see author’s version below)
    • Author’s version prior to peer-review (not refereed). Often known as a pre-print (please note this definition may differ from a publisher’s definition of a pre-print)
    • Text revised after publication. Check copyright holder and any terms of agreement
  • Some publishers stipulate that a link to their website and/or a few sentences of set text are included, and where possible (when publication details are avaialble online) ORA creates this reference as part of the record metadata.
  • See the SHERPA/Romeo website to help you check which version should be used, though in the majority of cases this will be the Author's Accepted Manuscript.

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Contact publishers for permission

Example wording for use by authors to request the publisher's/copyright holder's permission to include an item in ORA.