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Copyright and Intellectual Property Rights

Your guide to understanding copyright law and intellectual property rights

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. From 1st August 2022 Newcastle University has a new Research Publications and Copyright Policy, the purpose of which is to allow immediate open access for all journal articles and conference proceedings to help maximise the visibility and impact of our research and ensure compliance with REF and research funder requirements. Authors will find further details and FAQs around the policy and what it means in practice on our Library Research Services webpages

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

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 Canvas, 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 will not allow, you can release your work under a Creative Commons licence.

For more information about protecting your Intellectual Property Rights University staff should contact the Legal Services and IP team, students should contact the Start Up team.

*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 Canvas 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).

From 1st August 2022 Newcastle University has a new Research Publications and Copyright Policy, the purpose of which is to allow immediate open access for all journal articles and conference proceedings to help maximise the visibility and impact of our research and ensure compliance with REF and research funder requirements. All Newcastle University authors will find further details and FAQs around the policy and what it means in practice on our Library Research Services webpages

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 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 Legal Services and IP team can provide specialist legal advice to University staff and support you in protecting and commercialising your IP. Students should contact the Start Up team to access information, advice and funding.

Guidance for authors

​It 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. 

All queries regarding contract agreements, Intellectual Property and legal issues should be directed to the University's Legal Services and IP team.

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.

Use the ALCS Royalty Search 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.

ALCS logo

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 via the Cite Them Right tutorial.

Research Ethics

Newcastle University offers guidance on Research Governance and Ethics of which you need to be aware.

If you have any queries regarding these policies contact