Goldsmiths - University of London
Subject Guides
Skip to Main Content

Open Access Monographs : Third-party copyright

An introduction to open access monographs aimed at our researchers at Goldsmiths, the guide provides an overview of funder requirements and the open access options available to Goldsmiths authors

Use of third-party copyright material in open access monographs

Third-party copyright material, such as illustrations, charts, and figures taken from existing sources, can be included in open access books published under a Creative Commons licence, but there are some additional factors that authors will need to consider if their work is being published open access.


While it is preferable for third-party material to be shared under the same Creative Commons licence as the rest of the book, if the rights holder will not permit this, they may agree to their material being included under a more restrictive licence or subject to the terms under which the rightsholder has released it, for example on an ‘all rights reserved’ basis. In this scenario, third-party content is excluded from the Creative Commons licence that is applied to the overall work.

Securing permissions

When requesting permission, you should notify the rights holder that the book will be published open access and inform them of the Creative Commons licence under which the book will be released. It can be more difficult to secure permission to include third-party material in open access books, as rights holders may be concerned that their commercial interests will be harmed by their work being made so widely accessible.

Crediting third-party material

Just as in a non-open access book, material can only be used in a book published under a Creative Commons licence subject to the content owner’s agreement and all third-party content, including content which you have permission to use, must be clearly marked (i.e. authors should state clearly in each caption the terms under which the rightsholder has released it, as these may differ from the Creative Commons licence under which the rest of the book is released).

Publisher policies

Publishers’ approaches to third-party material in open access books may vary. Some publishers only allow inclusion of third-party material in an open access book if the rights holder is willing to let it be released under the same licence as the rest of the book, whereas others will permit the third-party material to be included under more restrictive licensing terms.

In cases when rights-holders permit inclusion of their material in the print book but not in the open access ebook, some publishers may allow the third-party material to appear only in the print book while redacting the material in the ebook; other publishers may insist that the print book and ebook are identical and will not permit inclusion of third-party material unless permissions are secured for all formats.

Publishers’ involvement in helping to secure third-party permissions for open access books may vary. Some publishers may handle permissions on your behalf; in other cases, you may be contractually obliged to secure third-party permissions yourself. In this instance, your publisher may provide advice and check that the permissions and captions are correct.

Funder policies

UKRI have published a best practice guide on 'Managing third-party copyright for research publications' which provides guidance for researchers publishing open access monographs and book chapters on how to manage third-party copyright, clear permissions, and use third-party content in line with copyright law.

Wellcome acknowledge that the use of third-party material in open access publications is a new area and that there are challenges working out how material can be reused and licensed within an open access context. They recommend that third-party material is published under the same licence as the rest of the work, but is not a requirement and they allow third-party material to be licensed separately.

Further guidance

This guidance is adapted from the following sources that are published CC BY and further information about the use of third-party copyright material in long-form open access publications is available on the following links:

OAPEN: ‘Third-party permissions’ (2022)

OAPEN-UK: ‘Guide to Creative Commons for Humanities and Social Science Monograph Authors’ (2013)

UKRI: ‘Managing third-party copyright for research publications’ (2023)

Authors Alliance: Understanding Open Access: When, Why, & How to Make Your Work Openly Accessible (Chapter 7 – ‘How to secure the right to use third-party content when making your work openly accessible’) (2015)

Chat With Us

Contact Us