Copyright for researchers

Copyright always plays a role when an article, paper, book or chapter is being published or used or reused. This page contains information about what you need to know about copyright when you work as a researcher.

What you should know about copyright

  • Copyright refers to the rights to literary, scientific or artistic works, e.g., books, magazine articles and photos.
  • The creator of a work automatically has copyright.
  • There may be several creators who collectively own the copyright.
  • The work does not need to be registered.
  • A copyright may be transferred, for example to a publisher.
  • Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the creator.

SURF’s website provides comprehensive and practical information on copyright for higher education. The website includes the following information: 

  • Copyright guidelines in easy-to-understand language
  • How to use other people’s materials when creating teaching materials or carrying out research
  • Helpful advice for publishing your own research

Go to

Using other people’s materials

The basic rule stipulates that the right holder’s consent is needed if you wish to use their work. Even when consent has been given to use a work, the source must be cited in order to prevent plagiarism. Read more about citation and acknowledgement of sources.

There are different types of consent, which are called licences. For example, there are exclusive and non-exclusive licences. Exclusive typically means that only the publisher has the authority to use the book in the agreed manner, while non-exclusive means that other people, in addition to the publisher, may also use the work.

The creator of a work may give prior permission to use the work. An example of such licenses are the Creative Commons licenses. Use of such a license allows the creator to determine what someone else can do with their work. Read more about Creative Commons.

Copyright within Radboud University

Within Radboud University, authors of PhD theses or other scientific publications maintain their copyright. This is not always apparent, because PhD candidates write their theses while they are in the employ of the university. The fact is that many employers retain specific copyright elements, such as the exploitation rights of works that were created by the authors while they were in their service. However, Radboud University’s Executive Board has decided that the author of the PhD thesis is the rightful copyright holder.

Free visual and audio materials

The following websites contain royalty-free images that fall under a Creative Commons licence. When using these images, make sure that you always cite the source.

Staff members and students of Radboud University may order visual and audio materials free of charge from Academia, which is the archive of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. You may also request that a file be compiled for a specific theme.

Staff members and students of Radboud University and Radboud university medical center may also download photos from the image archive. Read more about the image archive and find out how you can create an account.


If you require assistance, use the Ask Your Librarian form and submit your question to the Copyright Information Point. 

The University Library staff members can answer your questions.