CREATE & MANAGE DATA
WHAT IS COPYRIGHT?
Copyright is an intellectual property right assigned automatically to the creator, that prevents unauthorised copying and publishing of an original work. Copyright applies to research data and plays a role when creating, sharing and re-using data.
The categorisation of copyright as a 'property' demonstrates that copyright is something which belongs to someone, cannot be taken away without consent and cannot be abused without the possibility of legal action ensuing.
Under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 copyright applies to:
- original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
- sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes
- the typographical arrangement of publications
Most research outputs such as spreadsheets, publications, reports and computer programs fall under literary work and are therefore protected by copyright. Facts, however, cannot be copyrighted.
Some useful facts about copyright ownership and transfer:
- the author(s) or creator(s) of a work automatically own(s) copyright and this can be assumed as soon as the work exists in a recorded form
- copyright subsists in the typescript of a book before it is published
- for copyright to apply, the work must be original and fixed in
a material form (written or recorded); there is no copyright in
ideas or unrecorded speech
- if a work has two authors, the copyright will by default be owned by both authors
- for work created during employment, legally the copyright owner is the employer, subject to 'any agreement to the contrary'; in practice many academic institutions assign copyright in research materials and publications to the researchers; researchers should check how their institution assigns copyright
- for collaborative research or derived data, copyright is held by all the investigators or institutions involved
- for data collected via interviews that are recorded and/or transcribed, the researcher holds the copyright of recordings and transcripts but each speaker is an author of his or her recorded words in the interview (Padfield, T (2010) Copyright for archivists and records managers, 4th ed., London: Facet Publishing)
- for research undertaken by a Ph.D. student, that student is the copyright owner of data and outputs created
- copyright can be transferred by the owner, but only in writing, by means of a transfer document called an assignment
- if researchers wish to publish large extracts from an interview, it is advisable to obtain a transfer of copyright (a signed form) from interviewees
- ownership of copyright can be sold and bequeathed and is unrelated to the ownership of an object; the transmission of copyright does not affect its duration
- creators of a work can also hold moral rights and publications rights and a database may be protected by copyright in the content and database right in the structure
- secondary users of data must obtain copyright clearance from the rights holder before data can be reproduced
- data can be reproduced for non-commercial teaching or research
purposes without infringing copyright under the fair dealing
concept, providing that the data source used, data distributor and
the copyright holder are acknowledged