Psychometric scales, copyright protection and translation
By Chris J Holland, on 17 November 2017
A UCL researcher recently asked a series of questions about obtaining copyright permission to reproduce a published psychometric scale in the researcher’s own paper:
Q. Would the scale itself be protected by copyright?
A. Yes, if it is the original creation of the author(s) it will benefit from copyright protection, in which case permission is required to reuse it lawfully.
Q. What are the copyright implications of translating the scale into another language in order to apply it in a different cultural context?
A. Translation is a type of “adaptation” which is one of the activities restricted by copyright law – Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, Section 16(1)(e)
Therefore you do need permission if you want to publish a translation of someone’s work or make it available to the public etc. Interestingly your translation will also benefit from separate copyright protection as long as it has been made with permisssion from the owner of copyright in the original work.
Q. Can I then publish my paper under a Creative Commons licence (CC licence)?
A. By all means, as long as you are happy for people to reuse your work freely under the terms of the chosen CC licence. It is impoortant to underline that you cannot licence the reuse of someone else’s work without their permission. Therefore you must include separate copyright information on any quotations of other people’s work, along with the usual acknowledgements of author and source, to make it clear that it is not covered by the CC licence you are applying to your own work. This would also apply to the psychometric scale. It is important to note that having made your work available under a Creative Commons licence you cannot change your mind and withdraw the licence from people who are already making use of it.