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Copyright: Publishing your work

Guidance and tips on making copyright law work for you in your University teaching and study.

Scholarly works

Although copyright in works created ‘in the course of employment’ automatically belongs to the employer under UK copyright law, the University does not assert any rights ownership in scholarly works produced to advance an academic career, such as papers for conferences, articles in journals, and books not commissioned specifically by the University. However, authors should be mindful that intellectual property rights in the underlying research (e.g. the data/results reported, images or materials generated etc.) might be owned by the University, where research has been undertaken under a contract of employment.

Additionally, in accordance with the University’s Code of Practice on Intellectual Property, to facilitate the use of published scholarly works written by a member of faculty, a non-exclusive licence is granted to the University to share and copy material for academic, administrative and archival purposes.

Copyright in student dissertations and theses is always owned by the student author, unless they have signed an assignment agreement.

Image: Manolo Franco via Pixabay (CC0)

Publishing agreements and copyright transfer

When entering into agreements with publishers, academic staff should inform publishers of the licence granted to the University for use of the scholarly work for academic, administrative and archival purposes. Staff are also encouraged to retain ownership of their copyright, rather than agreeing to transfer their rights to a publisher. In most circumstances an assignment of copyright (transferring an author’s ownership of their rights) to the publisher is not necessary to facilitate publication of a scholarly work and authors are instead advised to grant a licence to publish.

Authors should always assert their moral right to be identified as author of their contribution(s). This right cannot be assigned to the publisher, but must be asserted (e.g. in the publishing contract).

Seeking permissions

An author's obligations under their publishing agreement will often include obtaining permission for the inclusion of third party illustrations or other materials (paying fees for such permission where applicable). While it may be reasonable for a publisher to delegate some of this activity to authors, it is important to discuss and agree an approach to copyright clearance, jointly. For example, many major publishers are signatories to the reciprocal STM Permissions Guidelines, enabling the reprinting of limited portions of illustrative material (e.g. figures and tables) from each other’s publications, free of charge: