Copyright and licences 
SBA Research Support


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It is a duty of every researcher to Know and manage your rights as an author.

In Italy copyright is regulated by law 633/1941 [ITA] and subsequent amendments [ITA]; this law recognises that the author's moral right to the authorship of the work is inalienable and unlimited in time, while the patrimonial right can be transferred.

Standard publishing contracts stipulate that the author transfers all rights of economic use to the publisher who may publish, have the work translated or distributed on an exclusive basis.
But ceding all rights means renouncing possible reuses: the author may not publish his work online, distribute it in lectures to students, re-present it at conferences or seminars, include parts of it in a subsequent work, archive it in the University's institutional repository (ARCA).

Before signing a contract, read carefully the clauses and check the publishing policies, also because it is increasingly a requirement for access to funding from public projects (Horizon Europe) to publish research outputs in open access.

So before sign a contract:

  • check the publisher's policies especially regarding open access (Sherpa/Romeo)
  • request any changes to the contract by means of an addendum to allow, for instance, the article to be archived in the institutional repository and the possibility to eliminate or reduce embargo times or the re-use of one's own work for teaching purposes (draft publishing contracts are available from departmental secretariats);
  • use alternative licences such as Creative Commons.

To learn more about your rights as an author, we recommend reading the guidelines drafted by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition).
If you decide publish in open access, it is important that you appropriately and consciously use a suitable open licence, such as Creative Commons.

Open licences and Creative Commons

An open licence is based on the principle of copyleft, which is the opposite of copyright. While the former is permissive, i.e., it allows anyone to use, modify and redistribute a work, the latter is exclusive, as it only allows the author, or whoever holds the copyright (publisher), to exercise any right of use.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) licences are based on the principle of “Some Rights Reserved” and make it possible to communicate in a simple and standardised way which rights the author of the publication reserves and which rights they waive for the benefit of users.
Creative Commons licences can be applied to any work, but to use them, you need to own all rights or have explicit authorisation from the rights holder (e.g., the publisher).
Creative Commons licences combine the specific right with an image.

Name Siymbol You can You can't You must
Attribution (Attribuzione) use, modify, share give appropriate credit and indicate if changes were made
Share alike (Condividi allo stesso modo) use, modify, share give appropriate credit, indicate if changes were made, share under the same license
No derivatives (Non opere derivate) use, share modify give appropriate credit
Non commercial (Non commerciale) use, modify, share use for commercial purposes give appropriate credit and indicate if changes were made
Non commercial-Share alike (Non commerciale - Condividi allo stesso modo) use, modify, share use for commercial purposes give appropriate credit, indicate if changes were made, share under the same license
Non commercial-No derivatives (Non commerciale - Non opere derivate) use, share modify, use for commercial purposes give appropriate credit

CC licenses are universally used to share content online; they are simple to understand thanks to the graphic symbols, they make explicit the uses permitted of a publication. Thanks to these licenses, reuse becomes faster and there is no need to ask for further permissions.
However, remember that in Italy the reference for the protection of copyright remains the law 633/1941.
For more information, you can consult the page CreativeCommons.

Academic social networks and copyright

Academic social networks such as and ResearchGate are private platforms that give members the opportunity to upload, publish and share their publications.
To share these materials on academic social networks, the author must be the exclusive owner of the rights to publish, reproduce, distribute and disseminate their publication. This is possible either because the content is unpublished or because it has been explicitly released under an Open Access or public domain licence.
On the other hand, in all cases where rights have been assigned to a publisher, one must always agree on any way of disseminating one's work. Unauthorised publication on an academic social network constitutes a violation of copyright law and of the contractual terms agreed with the publisher.
Unlike thematic and institutional repositories, these commercial platforms do not give any guarantees regarding long-term preservation.

Open Access Repositories ResearchGate
Supports export or harvesting Yes No No
Ensures long-term preservation Yes No No
Has a commercial business model No Yes Yes
Uses the mail bombing technique No Yes Yes
Aims at stealing your address book contacts No Yes Yes
Complies with the requirements of European funding programmes (e.g., Horizon Europe) Yes No No


Publisher policies and self-archiving

Publishing policies with respect to self-archiving in an institutional or subject repository vary depending on the publisher, the journal and the version of the article.

Possible versions of an article are:

  • Submitted or preprint: the draft sent to the journal at the time of submission, not yet peer-reviewed
  • Accepted manuscript or postprint: the final version that has passed the peer review process and has been accepted by the publisher, but does not have the editorial layout
  • Published version or publishing pdf: the published version with the layout of the journal.
Sherpa Romeo

Sherpa Romeo database collects the policies with respect to self-archivingt in open repositories of most foreign publishers. The database indicates for each of the 3 versions in which repository (institutional, author's personal website, specific repositories such as Pubmed Central) you can archive your publication can be deposited and if there is an embargo period (the months in which the file, although deposited in the repository, remains restricted access) calculated from the date of publication of the article (not from the time of deposit).

Alternatively, we suggest you to consult the publisher's website or contact them directly to request the possibility of self-archive the accepted or editorial version of your article. For Italian publishers, you may also consult the EPoCA database maintained by the University of Turin.

Open access requirements for research funding programmes

Sherpa Juliet

Open access to publications (and data) has become mandatory in most research funding programmes (e.g., Horizon Europe).
Before choosing a publisher or journal to publish in, in addition to checking the publishing policies with tools such as Sherpa Romeo, it is also advisable to know the policies of the funding bodies regarding Open Access, publication and archiving of data, and the requirements to access funding
You can find this information in the Sherpa/Juliet database.

ROARMAP (Registry of Open Access Repositories Mandatory Archiving Policies) also provides information on the open access policies of universities, research institutes and research funders.

Last update: 08/05/2024