copyright status of old job ads – publish and be damned?

[transferred from  july 2011]

update: just come across this great Nina Paley cartoon- says it all..

clearly it's valuable!

Scibella is a project to set up a CRIS (Current Research Information Service) for UK public sector research in science & technology. At the core of a CRIS is People, Projects, Units (PPU).  Who is doing what, where.  The raw data for Scibella would come from vacancy adverts like the one below from the University  of Bath in 2008 – 2  years ago.

Research Assistant

Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology

You can apply for this position by filling out an on-line application form.

 Further Details

From this ad can be extracted the following minimum PPU info

People: Dr Ian Eggleston (

Project title: photoactivatable caged iron chelators.

Unit: Bath. Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology.

I think this PPU info is factual and therefore not covered by copyright. So far, so good.

But there is obviously more project info in the complete advert text. Text which presumably has enough creative content to be covered by copyright.

So, here is the copyright statement for the University of Bath website:


All material on any of the University’s Web sites is, unless specified otherwise, copyright of the University of Bath and may not be reproduced without prior permission.

You may copy, print or download onto disc material for non-commercial use provided that any existing copyright or other intellectual property notices are retained.

You may not use or distribute material from this site or change the content of these pages in any way for any public or commercial purpose other than with the express written consent of the University of Bath and on such terms as the University of Bath may specify.

The University logo is a registered trade mark of University of Bath and should not be used without permission; requests to use the logo should be sent to

Fairly standard terms for UK universities, fair dealing for private research and study. Anything else – get permission first and be prepared to negotiate terms.

 Here is my problem – I want to be able to use the full advert text in the CRIS.  This is not for private research or study, but for public and maybe commercial purpose. I am sure that if I contact all the UK universities and can find the right person to deal with and wait  for someone ,or some committee, to decide that it is OK for me to do so that I may get all the permissions required.  But this lengthy process, and its uncertainty of outcome,  is certainly a deterrent to setting up a CRIS whose purpose is to disseminate information to other researchers, facilitate collaboration between Universities and the private sector, etc.  All good and worthy aims which no doubt every university would support.

 Never mind that, the job ad has done its job, has expired, is no more (apologies to Monty Python fans!), has no further economic value to the University,  is no longer on the university website but perhaps, and only perhaps, archived somewhere on some disc or other that only Fred in the  IT department knows about – this advert text is covered by copyright until 2078.. Use it without “written permission”  and I infringe copyright law.

This offends my sense of natural justice. It is as if someone has discarded a worn-out tyre by the road and a poor peasant comes along thinking, ah I can re-use that. Shoes for myself and family. Then, one day, the  tyre owner turns up and says to the peasant – that’s still my tyre, I didn’t give you permission to re-use it, off to court you go.

So what should the right copyright status be for an expired job advert? Any comments would be very gratefully received.

 to be continued (Part 2. creative commons licence CC BY for university websites?)


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