Licences allow the owner of copyright to grant and impose conditions on the reuse of content.

As a result of the growth of open access publishing, standard form licences have attracted significant attention, especially as many funders are mandating that specific licences be used by publishers when publishing work funded by them (for example, the Research Councils UK have expressed a preference for a CC BY licence for gold open access publishing). What CC BY stands for is explained on the Creative Commons Licences page).

What is a Creative Commons licence?

Creative Commons is a not-for-profit organisation which has created and published a number of standard form copyright licences. Creative Commons (or CC) licences, in common with all licences, allow the copyright holder to retain ownership, whilst attaching varying degrees of restriction on the use of works by third parties. You can read more about the different types of CC licences here:

What is open access publishing?

Broadly speaking, two open access (OA) publishing models have emerged:

Green OA

Green OA refers to the self-archiving of an article in a publicly/freely accessible repository, usually after an embargo period of up to 12 months. It is the Accepted Manuscript that can be posted, not the Final Published Version. The costs of publication have to be covered by subscription fees.

Copyright is generally assigned to the publisher and the author is given rights to post onto a repository within the restrictions specified by the publisher. See IOP's Author Rights Policy for details.

Gold OA

In this model, the Final Published Version of an article is made freely available upon payment of an article publication charge (APC). This is paid to the publisher by the author, his or her funder or a third party. Copyright can either be licensed or assigned in the standard manner but the publisher makes the content immediately free to view and to reuse (subject to some restrictions, which vary depending on the type of gold OA licence the article is published under) immediately.

IOP applies a CC BY licence to all articles published on a gold OA basis. This allows broad reuse – so long as IOP and the authors are credited. Some of our older gold OA articles were published under a CC BY-NC-SA licence. Please check the individual article or e-mail us at if you are unsure.