Copyright exists as a form of protection around something which you have created. Most people might immediately think of its relevance in the arts with examples such as literature or film, but it is equally important in the sciences: for example experimental techniques can also be subject to copyright. Copyright places restrictions on whether or not someone can copy all or part of your work, which is important for claiming ownership and making sure that you are acknowledged or rewarded, but sometimes this can be a bad thing.
By championing research dissemination open access journals, RCUK and WT hope that the work which they fund will be more widely viewed, and with the use of CC licences they expect that their publications will be used to contribute to other studies. Essentially, they’re trying to make sure that studies which use their money have a greater impact: they want more bang for their buck.
This makes sense, especially right now when people are trying to make their finances stretch, but will the changes be detrimental to researchers? Some may view the new requirements as an unwelcome imposition, and worry that they might not be sufficiently rewarded for their hard work. As long as they don’t deter scientists from publishing, the new measures will hopefully succeed in helping research reach a wider audience.