You are in charge of your copyright. You have exclusive rights and you can choose who can use your work and how best to disseminate it. Consider your contracts carefully and consider making your work open access.
When you submit your work to a publisher, you will be asked to sign a publication agreement. Read it carefully. If it asks you to transfer your copyright to the publisher, make sure you understand the specific transfer terms and what rights you will still have available to you.
If the transfer is not qualified in any way, it will mean that only the publisher will be able to reproduce, publish, communicate, perform or adapt the work. In other words, you will have to ask the publisher’s permission to do any of these things. Make sure you retain some rights of re-use for yourself. Alternatively, you could retain the copyright and give the publisher a licence to publish.
Some rights you may wish to retain include the right to include the work in UNSWorks, UNSW’s open access repository; the right to reuse the data from your publication in subsequent publications; the right to share an electronic version of your publication with colleagues; and the right to share an electronic version of your publication with your students.
The Australian Copyright Council website provides information sheets that give further advice on protecting and licensing copyright.
It might be appropriate to make your research output or creative work available to others under an open access licence, such as a Creative Commons licence. For more information see What is open access?
Many funding bodies in Australia require research outputs to be made available via open access repositories or other means of public access. If you require assistance understanding the publication requirements of your NHMRC or ARC funding agreement, please contact your Outreach Librarian.
Open access licencing may also be appropriate for your creative and artistic works. Platforms such as Flickr allow you to share your work with a Creative Commons licence attached.
Making your work available with an open access licence has numerous benefits. It allows your work to be disseminated and shared more freely and widely, thus increasing its use and research impact. Open access licences allow you to use your work again later, as well. If you want to use your own research in a course or in a MOOC, or if a colleague wishes to use your materials in their course or MOOC, that can happen without needing permission from the publisher or copyright owner.
Copyright registration and legal deposit
Copyright is automatic once your work is in a material form. There is no need to register it.
In Australia, some copyright works are subject to legal deposit. The National Library of Australia website provides more information about legal deposit and what kinds of works must be deposited.
If your work is subject to legal deposit in New South Wales, it must be deposited at all of the following locations:
Legal Deposit Officer
NSW Parliamentary Library
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: +61 2 9230 2384
Fax: +61 2 9230 2640
Gift, Legal Deposit, & Exchange Officer
University of Sydney Library
University of Sydney NSW 2006
Phone: +61 2 9351 7279
Fax: +61 2 9036 6460
While there is no requirement to put a copyright statement on your work, it is good practice. It alerts the world that it is copyright material and that you are the owner.
You may want to give some thought to what you will allow people to do with your work.
- Do you want to reserve all rights, except for the exceptions granted by the Copyright Act 1968? In this case, you need do nothing, except put the copyright symbol © and Copyright [Your Name] [Year]. For example, this webpage is: © Copyright The University of New South Wales 2016.
- Or, do you want to allow certain users to do more? For example, you might be happy for people to copy your material for educational purposes. In this case, you should consider some of the alternatives to traditional copyright statements. You can write your own copyright statement specifying what you will permit users to do, or you can attach a Creative Commons licence. For more information about Creative Commons licences see What is open access?
Income from your copyright
If you wish to derive income from your work, you could consider becoming a member of a copyright collecting society. The Copyright Agency is relevant to publishers, authors and illustrators. The Copyright Agency is the body that collects the remuneration from educational institutions and government departments for the copying and communication of published material. It is then responsible for distributing money to copyright owners whose works are copied, but only if they are members of the Copyright Agency. Becoming a member of the Copyright Agency means you can quickly be identified as the copyright owner and receive any payments promptly. You can find out more about membership by visiting the Copyright Agency website.
There are copyright collecting societies for all kinds of copyright materials. More information about Australian copyright collecting societies for music, lyrics, sound recordings, music videos, visual arts, film and literature can be found on the Arts Law Centre of Australia’s information sheet on Copyright Collecting Societies.