Copyright and intellectual property rights

Guidance on managing copyright and intellectual property

The NHS has a responsibility to manage its intellectual property in accordance with Department of Health guidance.  Each Trust or organisation will have a policy that describes the ownership and management arrangements in place. The policy may include students as well as those on an honorary or short-term contract. Copyright is one aspect of Intellectual property right (IPR); others include patents, trademarks, inventions, confidential information such as a new surgical technique.

Intellectual Property

Check your Trust or organisational policy and make contact with the person responsible for intellectual property rights.


Below is some basic guidance around copyright.

Research commissioned and published under Open Access Arrangements

Material published under Open Access arrangements can be submitted in two ways: green or gold.


This is where an author publishes their paper in a journal but also deposits a copy of the paper into an Open Access IR. The journal publishers stipulate restrictions on the use of these papers, such as the format of the article or full-text embargo periods. The SHERPA website (opens in a new window) provides guidance on the rights that authors have once they have submitted their manuscript to a publisher, and also includes useful FAQs.


This is where an article processing charge (APC) is paid by the author or the organisation so that the paper published is immediately available and accessible via the journal’s website. Full-text links can be included in the IR.

If including full-text  in your IR, then you need to ensure that you are copyright compliant by using the SHERPA site to check for those papers published via the green route, and  ensure that APCs have been paid for those published via the gold route.

Research that has been commissioned by other bodies or not commissioned but has been published

An organisation may want their staff to have access to material they can learn from such as articles and book chapters not published as part of a research grant. Where this research appears in journals or in books that you have in print or electronically, you may be able to provide a link to your online catalogue or to NHS OpenAthens full-text access. Alternatively you could include a link to your online document supply forms, or an e-mail address for requesting a copy.

Note that you cannot add Copyright Fee Paid (CFP) articles to an IR as our CLA Licence does not permit this.

Research that has not been commissioned and not published

An organisation may want their staff to have access to “grey material” such as presentations, surgical procedures, presentations or policies. You will need to have a clear understanding of IPR in your organisation and ensure this material is copyright compliant. How will material of this type be accessed? Publically or privately via an intranet or a restricted page created for a community of practice. Your organisation may have a policy of depositing any research and submitted as a thesis in your library and knowledge service, or you could consider including a link to the British Library’s e-thesis online service, EThOS (opens in a new window).

If you have any queries or your question has not been answered by the above then please visit KLS' copyright page or contact your regional representative. Your regional representative on this group aims to respond to you within 48 hours unless your query is very complex.