For researchers

As a researcher at Utrecht University, you publish scientific output. It is important that you are familiar with the Dutch Copyright Act (Auteurswet) and other relevant regulations. This page provides information about copyright for researchers.  


Information about publishing, like uploading a dissertation, using the Utrecht University Repository or open access is on the publishing page. Below you will find more information about the relation between copyright and publishing.

Agreements with publishers

If you wish to publish your work, it is a good idea to ask advice from your faculty’s Research Support Officer (intranet) before you enter into an agreement with a publisher.

Publishers each have their own agreements, so the rights you retain will vary from publisher to publisher. The publishers of academic journals will require authors to transfer the copyright on their articles or grant a license for publication. Before signing an agreement, you should ensure that you retain a number of important rights:

  • The right to reuse the article in teaching and research within Utrecht University
  • The right to rewrite and amend the article
  • The right to distribute the article among your colleagues
  • The right to include the article in the UU Repository.

Surf has developed practical tools to tell which copyrights you retain and which you don’t as an author. You can also see how to make agreements about reuse of your publications.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons offers authors, artists, scientists, teachers and all other creative makers the freedom to handle their own copyrights flexibly. Using six (free) standard licenses an author can say how his or her work can be disseminated and under which conditions. Using a Creative Commons license you keep all your rights, but you give others permission to disseminate, share or with some licenses, to edit your work freely.

Copyright and research data

The definition of (research) data is very broad. It can be any collection of literature, artistic, musical or other such works. It can also be other material such as text, sound, image, numbers or facts. Research data can be copyrighted works if they are the originals themselves. When using raw data it is important to know the legal status of the material. Sometimes you need permission from the author, but not always. Maybe someone other than the author has the rights to the data or other legal provisions apply in case of privacy-sensitive information.

On our Research Data management site you will find detailed information about managing and sharing research data. Relevant rules and legislation surrounding research data can be read in the document Kaders en wetten onderzoeksdata (Dutch only)

Database law

Database law, like copyright is an intellectual property right. A database is protected if it is the result of a substantial investment. That means either money, time or effort have been invested. If so you are not allowed to copy or ask for large amounts of the database without permission. The producer of a database has the exclusive right to run it.

Geografical information (in maps) can be protected under database law. Databases with legal information can also be protected.


Researchers at Utrecht University who have a patented invention or who want to start a business based on the intellectual property of Utrecht University can come to the research support offices for support and advice. The Utrecht Holdings manage and run all of Utrecht University’s patents.


If Utrecht University commercializes the knowledge you have generated, and receives additional remuneration for this, you are also entitled to a fair remuneration (intranet) under certain conditions. More information about intellectual property can be found in the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (PDF) (CAO NU, Chapter 1, Section 3). If you have any questions about this, please contact your faculty’s Research Support Officer (intranet).