Clearing copyright for digitised material

To provide researchers with online access to material relating to key developments in modern bioscience we are digitising some archives and other material which are still in copyright. We have used a ‘best endeavours’ approach to obtaining permission to make these collections available.

In some cases it has been extremely difficult to identify all potential copyright holders. This is particularly the case for archive material, most of which consists of unpublished documents and which is often in manuscript form (handwritten letters or notebooks, for example). Names may be illegible or missing or the current copyright owner may be unknown, or impossible to trace. Where this is the case, we have made all reasonable efforts to ensure copyright holders’ interests are respected and permission sought where it is feasible to do so. However, we cannot guarantee to have traced or contacted every potential rights-holder.

All of our online collections are subject to a takedown policy (see below). If we are contacted by a potential rights-holder we will remove the material in question from our website until we have been able to assess the case, and if appropriate we will ensure the material is removed temporarily or permanently from our website as appropriate. This also applies to cases in which rights-holders who have previously given permission wish to retract it for any reason.

Takedown policy

To contact us about removal of material, please email our team at, or write to us at the following address:

Medical Sciences Division Learning Technologies
Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
Sherrington Building
University of Oxford
South Parks Road

Takedown procedures

In making material available online we have acted in good faith. However, we recognise that from time to time material published online may be in breach of copyright, contain sensitive personal data, or include content that is obscene or defamatory. On receipt of a request to takedown material from our websites, we will respond by immediately removing the material in question. Requests will then be assessed and we will aim to respond definitively within four weeks, but may require additional time to seek external advice where appropriate.

Reasons for continued withdraw might include:

  • The material is in copyright, and the copyright-holder refuses permission for it to be made available online.
  • The material is personal information about someone who is still alive and continued online access would be unlawful or unfair to him under the Data Protection Act or would breach his or his family’s right to a private and family life under the Human Rights Act 1998.
  • The material is defamatory or obscene.
  • The material acquires sensitivity by virtue of being made available online.

Where material is removed for reasons of Data Protection or sensitivity, its removal will be considered as temporary and it may be restored at a later date once its sensitivity is deemed to have subsided. Where material is removed for reasons of copyright, its removal will be considered as lasting until such time as copyright in the material expires, or until the rights-holder agrees that the material can be reinstated.

Adapted from the Wellcome Library’s Copyright clearance and takedown policy, 2014

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