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Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights: Understanding your rights as a creator

Practical guidance on a range of IPR issues aimed at all students, staff and researchers at Newcastle University.

Understanding your rights

As an author, you have Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over your original works. This includes copyright over the research outputs you create in the course of your employment with Newcastle University.

Please note: Newcastle University retains the copyright over all teaching materials you produce in the course of your employment here.

As an author, you can decide what to do with the rights over your work. There are rights you may wish to retain (such as your right to be acknowledged as the author of the work) and rights you may wish to give to others (such as giving a publisher the right to publish and distribute your work).

When signing contracts with publishers you should be aware of your author rights and the terminology surrounding the retention of rights. This is particularly important if you wish to ensure your work is available open access in compliance with funder requirements. Most journals do allow authors to make a copy of their research available open access, but if you're in doubt, do ask. You may be able to modify the terms of your contract if you feel it is too restrictive. 

Remember: publishers own the copyright over the typography (font, layout and setting) of the final PDF version of your work which they make available online. You cannot upload and share this PDF version in Blackboard, via the Web or in ePrints, our institutional repository*. If you retain certain rights, you may be able to make your final author version available in line with publisher policies.

If you give your copyright away you will no longer be in control over the reuse and repurposing of your work. To manage the rights to your work more effectively and clarify to your readers what you will and won't allow you can release your work under a Creative Commons licence.

For more information about protecting your Intellectual Property Rights contact Research and Enterprise Services.

*without explicit permission from the publisher. Publishers occasionally grant authors permission to share an 'Author's Personal Copy' PDF internally for educational purposes. Such copies may be uploaded to Blackboard only as this system requires authentication. 'Author's Personal Copies' are NOT to be uploaded to staff profiles, University webpages, personal webpages or ePrints.

At Newcastle University the copyright in all material submitted for a higher degree remains with the candidate. As a PhD student you retain the copyright over your thesis. This means that you are in control over which rights you retain and which rights you assign to others (for example, in repurposing a chapter to be published in a research journal).

You own the copyright over the original work in your thesis but you may have included copyrighted materials from elsewhere (e.g. maps, tables, graphs, diagrams, photographs, images). You do not own the copyright over these materials thus do not have the right to copy, digitise or distribute them without securing the permissions of the copyright holder(s). These materials are protected bythird party copyright. This is important to know if you wish to digitise your thesis or submit any part of it for publication. Library staff can provide further information or templates to request permissions but the onus is on you to secure any necessary permissions. 

Please note: Newcastle University retains the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), including copyright, over any work you do for the University in the course of your research studentship (for example, in research project teams or collaboration with your supervisor). See the relevant University policies here for further clarification. 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) is the term used to describe the legal rights associated with Intellectual Property (IP). IP comes out of scientific, literary or artistic endeavour. Some rights are automatic (e.g. copyright) and others have to be secured through formal application or registration (e.g. patents). Copyright is just one of the Intellectual Property Rights. The main categories are:

  • Patents
  • Confidential information
  • Copyright
  • Trademarks
  • Performance Rights
  • Design Rights

The University's Research and Enterprise Services can provide specialist legal advice and support you in protecting and commercialising your IP.


Guidance for authors

‚ÄčIt is essential that before you sign any contract agreement (e.g. Research Agreements, Consultancy Agreements, Editor Agreements, Publishing Agreements, Licence Agreements (both Exclusive and Non-exclusive)) you understand the terms and conditions under which your Intellectual Property (IP) is to be used in future.

Many publishers invite you to sign a Copyright Transfer Agreement granting them the right to publish your work. Take care to note whether they request exclusive rights (which might prohibit you from repurposing your work and publishing in an alternative format in future) and which rights you retain as the author of the work.

If you wish to make your work available Open Access (now mandated by RCUK, EU and some other funders) and the publisher does not plan to do this on your behalf (through the payment of an Article Processing Charge (APC)) then you will need to retain the right to put a version of your work (often your final author version or post-print) in an institutional repository (also referred to as the right to self-archive).

If the contract you are about to sign is unclear on Open Access you can check publisher policies through SHERPA ROMEO.

Be aware of your Moral Rights, which protect your right to be acknowledged as the author of a work. Moral Rights can be waived, but not assigned or licensed. If you choose to waive your Moral Rights, you should seek the inclusion of a clause which controls how your name and Newcastle University’s name is used. The Intellectual Property and Legal Services Team would be able to advise in these instances.

All queries regarding contract agreements, Intellectual Property (including copyright) and legal issues should be directed to Andrea Wright-Watkinson, Head of Intellectual Property, Research and Enterprise Services in the first instance.

The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a membership organisation which collects and distributes the secondary royalties due to authors for their creative works.

Registering for membership of the ALCS is recommended on the CLA website.

Use the Online Royalties Checker to see if you have any outstanding secondary royalties due to you. Please note you must join the ALCS for a one-off fee to collect any royalties.


Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is about being honest in your academic work. You need to understand the issues surrounding intellectual honesty so that you can't be accused of cheating or plagiarism and can be proud of the work you produce.

The information on this Copyright and IPR Guide will help you to reuse other people's work ethically and honestly, respecting their rights and exercising your rights appropriately.

You will find information and guidance on understanding and avoiding plagiarism here:

Research Ethics

Newcastle University has a range of policies relating to ethics and governance which you must abide by when conducting research, including a Code of Good Practice in Research.

If you have any queries regarding these policies contact Niall O'Loughlin, Research and Enterprise Services.


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