Copyright, open access, and permission to reuse

Copyright for authors

Since January 2000, The BMJ has not asked authors of journal articles to assign us their copyright. Authors (or their employers) retain their copyright in the article. All we require from authors is an exclusive licence (or, from government employees who cannot grant this, a non-exclusive licence) that allows us to publish the article in The BMJ (including any derivative products) and any other BMJ products (such as the Student BMJ or overseas editions), and allows us to sublicence such rights and exploit all subsidiary rights.

We ask the corresponding author to grant this exclusive licence (or non-exclusive for government employees) on behalf of all authors by reading our licence and inserting in the manuscript on submission the following statement:

“The Corresponding Author has the right to grant on behalf of all authors and does grant on behalf of all authors, a worldwide licence to the Publishers and its licensees in perpetuity, in all forms, formats and media (whether known now or created in the future), to i) publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Contribution, ii) translate the Contribution into other languages, create adaptations, reprints, include within collections and create summaries, extracts and/or, abstracts of the Contribution, iii) create any other derivative work(s) based on the Contribution, iv) to exploit all subsidiary rights in the Contribution, v) the inclusion of electronic links from the Contribution to third party material where-ever it may be located; and, vi) licence any third party to do any or all of the above.”

This licence allows authors to use their own articles for their own non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from us. Only if the use is commercial do we need to know about it. In addition, we will pay authors a royalty on certain commercial uses that we negotiate.

Permissions for authors

Thus authors may use their own articles for the following non-commercial purposes without asking our permission (and subject only to acknowledging first publication in The BMJ and giving a full reference or web link, as appropriate).

  • Posting a pdf of their own article on their own personal or institutional website, for which no charge for access is made.
  • Making a reasonable number of copies for personal or non commercial professional use. This includes the contributor’s own teaching purposes.
  • Republishing part or all of the article in a book or other publication edited by the author (except for multiple contributions in the same book or publication, for which permission needs to be sought
  • Using individual figures or tables or extracts of text (up to 250 words) in other publications published by a third party.
  • Using the article in a course pack or compilation (whether paper or electronic) in the authors’ institution. This does not apply if a commercial charge is made for the compilation or training programme.

On orders that we receive up to five years after publication for a single article reprint or translation sale that exceed £1500 in value, we will pay authors a royalty of 10% of net receipts less any sales commission, which will be paid to the Corresponding Author for distribution as agreed between the authors.

Third parties: Permission to reuse

Anyone else (other than the author of a particular paper) who wants to reproduce an article from The BMJ needs to ask our permission. We are usually happy to give permission, though in many cases we will charge a fee.

Permission should be sought by following the Request permissions link that appears in the right hand panel on every article, or under its entry in a table of contents. This will take you to the Rightslink electronic request system.

Details about reprints can be obtained here.

Open access

The BMJ’s open access articles are all the research articles that we publish (irrespective of who funded the research) and any other article based on work funded by a funding organisation that requires open access publication—that is, requires its grant recipients to deposit publications arising out of the funded work to be deposited in PubMed Central open access repository.

By default, we publish these articles under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence that allows reuse subject only to the use being non-commercial and to the article being fully attributed ( Articles funded by certain organisations (currently RCUK and the Wellcome Trust) that mandate publication with a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence, which permits reuse for commercial purposes subject to the article being fully attributed ( are published with this licence. The BMJ makes all open access articles freely available on from the date of publication and at the same time sends them to PubMed Central (see below).

Open access articles can be identified by the Creative Commons copyright statement that appears at the end of the article and takes the following form:

“This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:”
“This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:”

The BMJ also sends these articles, without further intervention from the author, to PubMed Central, the National Library of Medicine’s full text article archive, where they are made fully available in PubMed’s open access subset.
The PubMed Central open access subset is a subset of the total collection of articles in PubMed Central. These articles “are still protected by copyright, but are made available under a Creative Commons or similar license that generally allows more liberal redistribution and reuse than a traditional copyrighted work.” For all research articles except those funded by an organisation that mandates CC-BY, the BMJ licence allows reuse with attribution of the origin of the article (a full citation) for non-commercial use only. For commercial use our normal permissions policy applies.

Author charges for research: open access

The full text of every research article published in The BMJ is immediately accessible on through open access, for everyone. The BMJ is committed to keeping research articles open access, with Creative Commons licences, and to depositing the full text content in PubMedCentral as well as full open access on To support this we now ask all authors to pay an open access fee of £3000 on acceptance of their paper. We do have a waiver policy for authors who cannot pay. Consideration of research articles is not related to ability to pay the fee, and we ask authors not to discuss with editors any issues concerning payment at any stage of the peer review process. Any communications related to fees are handled by administrative staff not involved in decisions about the publication of manuscripts.

Refund policy

We do not offer refunds for Open Access once articles have been published. For further information, contact

For non-research articles published with open access we will ask authors to pay the open access fee, as above.