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Information about your own copyright

All work is protected by UK Copyright Legislation as soon as it is recorded regardless of whether it is published. For more information on this see What is copyright? This includes material produced during a student’s course of study at UCL, or materials produced by academics.

UCL has well developed IPR policies for both staff and students which lay out the relationships between these cohorts and UCL in terms of the ownership and re-use of their work:

While we strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with these, we have drawn out some of the pertinent points:


"As a general principle UCL recognises the student as owner of any IPR he/she produces while a registered student of UCL. This principle may be subject to variation in the case of collaborative or externally sponsored work, or other exceptional circumstances."

Source: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/guidelines/intel_prop_rights

Should either of situations described above arise a student will be approached at the outset of a project or similar to arrange to assignment of copyright.


Staff, like students own copyright to their work. However, UCL does claim rights over some materials. Section 2 of the UCL Staff IPR Policy refers to Copyright:

"UCL recognizes the rights of its staff to ownership of copyright and other forms of intellectual property rights (IPR) in research publications, books and other similar publications in all formats derived from work undertaken during the course of their employment. It also recognizes the rights of members of staff to copyright and other forms of IPR in teaching materials in all formats.

The exceptions to this are:

  1. Institutional materials including reports, syllabuses, curricula, papers commissioned by UCL for administrative purposes etc.
  2. Materials generated by prior agreement, for which UCL provides resources which are in excess of these normally available to members of staff.
  3. Materials which are generated by prior agreement as ventures which involve sharing of copyright ownership between UCL and members of staff."

In addition attention is drawn to section 7 of the policy:

  1. "UCL is granted a free, unconditional, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive worldwide licence to use, for academic and commercial purposes, academic and teaching materials in all formats (now known or yet to be devised), which are generated by members of staff arising out of employment by UCL. Where work is commercialized, the standard revenue sharing arrangements will apply (see Annex 2)."

Source: UCL's Staff IPR Policy

Protecting your own work and allowing re-use

As a work is protected by copyright as soon as it is published it is not necessary to take any further action to protect it. However, creators of work may wish to consider using Creative Commons Licence to establish the types of use of their work they are willing to grant. This is particularly useful if a work is to be made available electronically.

Creative Commons is a licensing scheme which sits on top of copyright and enables producers to grant rights to re-use their materials, and users of materials can clearly see what they can and can’t do with a work. More information on Creative Commons and how to use the scheme are available.

Depositing your work on public sites
Sharing content we create is becoming common practise. Many of us will upload photos or video clips to sites like Flickr or YouTube. It is worth taking a moment to consider copyright and also the re-use policy of the site before uploading your content.

For example, the Flickr allows an individual to decide how their photos may be viewed and re-used, if at all. In addition it includes the option to add a Creative Commons Licence to any photos a creator adds to the service in order to share them. This in turn means that those searching for re-usable images see these images and the terms of re-use (see ‘Searching for re-useable materials’)

Information for academic authors on publication

Assigning your copyright
The publication of papers in academic journals or of scholarly monographs will involve some kind of contractual agreement between the author and publisher which will determine what happens to copyright of the work. Authors are encouraged to view the information available under our scholarly communication guidelines for more details on their copyright and publication.

* Bear in mind that even if you retain copyright to your content a publisher will own the rights to the edition that the content appears in for 25 years… so it is still not possible to simply reproduce material from the published version.

Copyright and theses
An original thesis is considered to be an unpublished work prepared for the purposes of examination. As such, it is covered by an exemption which states that there is no copyright infringement for anything done for the purposes of an examination, provided the reproduction of any third party material is accompanied by sufficient acknowledgement. However, if you publish your thesis – either commercially or within a public repository, this exemption no longer applies. Permission will have to be obtained for any third party materials included in the thesis. More information about theses and deposit of these in UCL Discovery is available: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/e-theses/

Clearing copyright for materials included in papers/manuscripts for publication
Generally, your publisher will provide information, and possibly assistance, in clearing copyright of any third party materials contained in the work. UCL does not provide a clearance service for this type of re-use, although we may be able to offer advice on how to trace copyright holders.

If you have any queries or need further advice please contact: copyright@ucl.ac.uk

Last modified 04 September 2012

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