Copyright and creating your own content

Who holds copyright over your research?

 Generally in the research sector:

  • the employer (university or other research institution) holds copyright to research outputs of staff.
  • university students hold the copyright to their research and work related to their study.

 Variations to these generalisations can occur. You should check UOW’s Intellectual Property Policy in the first instance.

Giving copyright permission to others

Users of your copyright material are not permitted to exercise any of the copyright holders' rights, such as copying or sharing the work, unless their actions fall within an exception in the Copyright Act (such as the Fair Dealing exception for research or study).

However, you (as a copyright holder) may give permission to others to exercise those rights. This permission is usually expressed in the form of a licence, and less frequently, an assignment.

An assignment exists where ownership of copyright is transferred from one party (the copyright holder) to another. More commonly, a licence extends permission to others to copy and reuse material.

Is someone copying your material without your permission?

UOW‘s Academic Integrity Unit provides some guidance on protecting your copyright.

Licensing your data/research

Licensing your work gives others permission to copy and share your work. One way to do this is through a Creative Commons licence.

The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research says:

"Researchers will... disseminate research findings responsibly, accurately and broadly."

In terms of research data, the best way to achieve this objective is to licence the data and to place it in a publicly accessible repository (along with appropriate metadata etc.).

If you don't license the data, no one else can legally use it!

Related links:

Sharing your material through Creative Commons

Creative Commons (CC) is an organisation that allows creators and copyright holders to give permission to others to reuse their works easily and legally through the use of "CC licences".

There are six standard CC licences, which are made of up ‘conditions’ that dictate how the work can be used.

Although licences can have a mix of conditions there is one condition that applies to all licences: that the owner of the work is attributed.

This means the person copying or reusing the work must include:

  • The creator/owner’s name,
  • a link to the source of the material, and
  • a link to the CC licence that applies to the original work.

More about how Creative Commons works

What does it mean to be human if we don't have a shared culture? And what does a shared culture mean if you can't share it? It's only in the last hundred or 150 years or so, that we've started tightly restricting how that culture gets used.

The internet enabled infrastructure where anybody could participate without asking permission. We have all these new technologies that allow people to express themselves, take control of their own creative impulses, but the law is getting in the way.

Creative Commons is designed to save the world from failed sharing. People who actually want to share stuff, who put it up on the web because they want to share it under certain terms.

So we wanted to create a simple way for creators to say to the world, "here's the freedom that I want to run with my creative work, here are the things you're allowed to do". It gives the user of the work answers to these sorts of questions: Can I reproduce it, can I copy it, can I put it in my text book, can I use that photograph, can I make a new version of it?

Creative Commons gives tools to creators to make a choice about copyright. Creative Commons license can cover anything that copyright covers. Every license says: you need to give me attribution, I created this, give me credit for the work I did.

The basic choices are commercial use or not, can you make derivative works (versions/adaptations) or not, and do you want me to have to share alike - so if I take your stuff, do I have to offer it to the next person under the same terms.

There's no requirement for you to do anything with your work other than what you want to do. You own the copyright to it. What we've done is given you the right to exercise your copyright in more ways, more simply.

So the idea here is to enable the creative impulses that the technology turns loose and get the law out of the way. The work of Creative Commons is really about laying the infrastructure groundwork for this new type of culture, a new kind of folk culture.

Somebody from Deli, somebody from New York, somebody from Singapore, can feel comfortable using a photo that was created and given away by someone in the United States or in China or wherever that the licenses have been extended to, with their identity being preserved. Which means that people can actually create new kinds of things, come gather and build things. Mashups that people can do with people's Flickr photos, and ccmixter has allowed artists to make music together.

It's really about creativity and connection. Access and control. From amateurs who simply, for the love of what they're doing and they want to share and they want other people to be able to make use of it, to commercial organizations.

In the end this will have a very successful place in the for-profit economy. Creative Commons is the bridge to this future. You got to move away from thinking about content to thinking about communities. Communities that develop around content. The sharing that the licenses allow enable these communities to come together.

A physical commons is like a part where anybody can enter equally. The commons with intellectual works is actually much freer. It really is going to be the pillar for communication between people, cultural exchange. A space for more speech more free expression and that's the kind of commons we're trying to create.

What is the public domain?

The public domain could be understood as the exact opposite to copyright.

It includes works that were never protected by copyright or are no longer protected, allowing people to use them freely, without needing to acknowledge or seek permission from the original creator or copyright owner.

The idea underpinning the public domain is that after a certain time copyrighted works become public property and should be able to be used by everyone.

What is considered to be public domain?

Artistic, literary, musical, dramatic works and subject matter other than works that:

  • are no longer protected by copyright law, or
  • were never protected by copyright law.

Comparing Copyright, Creative Commons and the public domain

Copyright - All rights reserved

Copyright all rights reserved icon


Any work cannot be used, modified, copied or published without permission from the copyright holder, or under an exception in the Copyright Act.

All works are automatically protected under the Copyright Act from the moment it is created.

Creative Commons - Some rights reserved

Creative commons some rights reserved icon


Any work can be used with permission and under certain conditions.

Copyright holder can determine the rules on how their materials can be used and express these easily to others.

Works can only be licensed under Creative Commons if the original owner does so, otherwise usual copyrights apply.

Permission for use cannot be revoked by the owner once given.


Public domain - No rights reserved

Public domain no rights reserved icon


Any work can be used, modified, copied, published without permission from the original owner.

Any works that have never been or are no longer protected by copyright.

Copyright help

Contact the Copyright Officer