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You own the copyright in anything you create

As explained elsewhere in these pages, copyright in New Zealand is automatic. The moment you create something original in a fixed form or record it in some way you have the rights associated with that thing: there is no need to include the copyright symbol or your name, though of course this helps.

Remember, though, that a work can contain many different copyrights, so these rights would only apply to the parts you created. For example: you write a blog post, and use a photograph from Flikr, which has been licenced with a Creative Commons attribution licence. You don't own the copyright in the photograph - that remains with the creator - but you own the copyright in anything you create, which gives you the exclusive right to copy, publish, perform, show, communicate, adapt/arrange the material in question or to authorise such uses.

Staff and the University's Intellectual Property Rights Policy

The University of Otago's Intellectual Property Rights Policy makes clear that the University "does not claim copyright in work or material produced by University staff in furtherance of their general employment obligations to teach and to undertake scholarly research, and agrees that copyright in such work or material is owned by the University staff members who produce it" (Section 3). So, you own the copyright in any material you produce yourself, whether this is an article, teaching resource or whatever, though there are some things you should note, as detailed below.

Journals / Other publishing

So, if you followed the explanation above, in theory you will own the copyright in any research you might publish while employed by the University (unless that research was funded by an external research grant and the contract for that stipulates otherwise - read Section 6 of the IP policy). However, most agreements you make with journals require that you grant them copyright in the article and will place varying degrees of limitation on what you can do with copies of the material in question. There are open access journals that do not place such restrictions on your research publications. Thus, for journal articles - and the same is true for any other form of formal publishing - whether you own the copyright in your work will depend on the agreement you make with the publisher. (Read about your obligations when using others' material in your own research).

Teaching materials

As noted above, under the IP policy the University does not claim copyright in teaching and research materials you produce while in its employ. In other words you can 'take them with you' when you leave. Note, though, that the University is entitled to use any materials you produce in the course of your employment even after you leave the University and that you can't give any such materials to another institution without the University's consent while working here. Read Section 4 of the IP policy for the full wording. And read about your obligations when using others' material in your own teaching materials.

Web publishing - wikis, blogs, YouTube etc.

See the dedicated page on this subject.

General principles when creating material of your own

  • Understand your rights to your own material, whether you are publishing in a book or on a blog. If you are uploading to a blog, do the terms of use for the site hand over rights to the site owners to then use the material as they wish? When you are publishing more formally, what will you be able to do with your text, graphs or images once published? For example, does publishing in a journal prohibit you from re-publishing the material in another medium, like your own blog or a teaching resource?
  • Be clear with others about what they can do with your work. Whether you publish a blog or give lecture slides to your students, include a statement about what users may do with the material. Can they share it with others? Are they, say, free to use it for non-commercial purposes if they acknowledge the source? Perhaps you want to maintain all rights to the material. Think about the extent to which others may use your work and get into the habit of outlining this in an obvious place, such as a 'Terms of Use' statement or a statement on your first slide. If you want your students to use your lecture slides only for their own study then tell them this on your slides. Creative Commons has become the most accepted licensing standard internationally for individuals to licence their work.
  • Remember that if you use material that is not yours within something you create then you need to be sure you are able to do so.
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