Copyright management in your research

Copyright management is an integral component of each step in the research life-cycle. As such it is important to incorporate good copyright management practices throughout your projects. If you do not manage copyright throughout your research you run the risk of limiting its use and discovery by others.

Copyright Ownership

The University's Intellectual Property Policy outlines the obligations of employees, non-employees and students in regards to the ownership of copyright.  Further information about ownership of copyright created at UTAS is available on the Research Website IP Ownership page.

Starting your research

There are some common steps when starting research such as:

  • defining research objectives

  • identify potential funding sources (private sector and government)

  • investigating potential for publication or commercialization

The above steps may cause the need for negotiation of contracts, confidentiality agreements, property (and Intellectual property) transfer agreements and non disclosure agreements. This means that if you include other people's copyright material in your research you may be required to provide this to other parties. You should ensure that you can obtain permission to use other people's copyright materials if it is required to satisfy contractual obligations or your research objectives cannot be met without the copyright material.

Tip 1

Contact owners of copyright material that is vital to your research prior to any investment in using their work to ensure your research objectives can be met.

You may also be required via funding or other contractual agreements to transfer copyright in your research work to another party. Note that this may limit your abilities to publish such work separately.

Tip 2

Consider whether you need to retain certain personal rights or rights for the university to deal with the research (such as a right to publish).

When your research is underway

Log what you use

It is likely that over the course of a project you will wish to release parts of your research for uses such as:

  • Discussion of research findings to a general audience (e.g. publication)

  • Disclosure of discoveries to the Office of Research or funding body (e.g. research publications and reporting)

  • Assessing commercial potential

Tip 3

Incorporate a copyright log into the administration of your research . This will help ensure you can release your research at the required times. Most importantly at the time of final release you want to be able to:

  1. easily identify all the third party copyright material;
  2. identify whether you have permission or licence to use the content; and if not
  3. decide whether such content is integral to the final release.  

An example copyright log is available in the Copyright toolkit for research (PDF 235 KB).

Obtaining permission

When you have determined that you require someone else's copyright content in your research (and no exceptions apply to your use) you will need to obtain permission.

Tip 4

Try these steps to help obtain permission.

  • Check to see if there is a permission or licence statement on the source material. If so, does the statement cover the uses you intend?
  • When you cannot determine ownership you should try contacting the publisher requesting ownership or rights holder details.
  • When you do know who the copyright owner is you can request permission to include their material in your research. Here is a sample permission request letter.
  • When you receive permission it is good practice (and may be a licence term) to acknowledge the permission in your research and keep a record of the permission (such as in a copyright log referred to above).

What do I do if I cannot obtain permission?

In some circumstances you may find that you cannot obtain permission due to cost or permission cannot be obtained in time for the release of the research. In such situations you may need to:

  • remove the copyright material from the released/published version of research

  • try to find an alternative source for the ideas represented in the copyright material

  • contact the University Copyright Officer to discuss your options further.

This information plus some useful tools are available in the Copyright toolkit for researchers (PDF 235 KB).