Answered By: Digital Library Services Team
Last Updated: Feb 03, 2017     Views: 133

Copyright occurs automatically with the expression of an idea in a tangible form, e.g. when a book or paper is written or a song is recorded. You don’t need to register or do anything else for copyright to apply. Copyright allows you to stop others copying, adapting, or performing your work without your permission. It applies to works created within the University but ownership depends on who you are and the circumstances under which the work was made.

The student will usually be the first owner of the intellectual property (IP) rights in his or her work.  However there may be circumstances where the institution will wish to assert or obtain ownership, or acquire a licence to use the materials.  This area is explored in greater depth in the Jisc Legal report entitled “Jisc Legal Investigation into Student Work and IPR” available at An example of where a student may not own the copyright, however, could be if an external business has funded the work of the student in any way.

In summary, work created by staff members as part of their employment copyright will belong to the employer institution unless there is a specific agreement otherwise.  Students on the other hand will normally be the owners of copyright in work they create, unless a valid, fair agreement provides otherwise. There are exceptions to the rule regarding ownership of IP for students especially for post-grads - if in doubt, read Manchester Metropolitan University's Intellectual Property Policy PDF (January 2016).

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