If you manage a public website, edit a journal, issue conference proceedings or undertake any other kind of publishing activity, you are a publisher. Considerations for publishing the content of others include issues of copyright and moral rights.
Acts of publishing are many and varied. The term publication generally includes any undertaking that makes works available to a wider audience. The exact definition is hard to pin down as is varies depending on the context in which it is being used.
The Copyright Act 1968 defines publication as follows:
- For literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works: if reproductions of the work have been supplied to the public
- For films: if copies of the film have been sold, let on hire or exposed for sale or hire to the public
- For sound recordings: if the recordings or parts of the recordings have been supplied to the public
If you are managing a website, editing a journal, issuing conference proceedings or undertaking any other kind of activity that exposes works to the public, then you are publisher, and you should consider issues of copyright and moral rights in the works you publish.
As a publisher, you must make sure you have the permission of the copyright owner to include each work (e.g. article, paper, thesis, book, photograph, map, video, sound file) that appears on your website or in your other publication.
Permissions should be obtained in writing and should be retained for future reference. Use reasonable measures to ensure that the permission is given by a party who is authorised to give it. The original creator of the work is not always the rights holder, and he or she may not have the authority to grant permission for use.
When you request permission from a creator to use his or her work, you may want some warranties as well. For example, you may want the creator to warrant that he or she has secured all necessary permissions for the copyright material in his or her work and that the work does not include any data or information that is private, defamatory or confidential.
Using student content
Work produced by a student is protected by copyright, and as a general rule the owner is the student unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. If you wish to showcase a student’s work on a website or in a publication, you will need permission from the student.
As a publisher, you also have an obligation to respect creators’ moral rights. Moral rights are personal rights that belong to an author even if the copyright in the work has been transferred to someone else.
Creators have the right to be identified as the creator of their works, the right to prevent others from being falsely named as the creators of their works and the right to ensure that their works are not subject to derogatory treatment.
For more information on moral rights, see Plagiarism and moral rights.