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Advanced Information Research Skills


In this section you will develop an understanding of what constitutes good practice in relation to managing your own copyright, respecting the copyright of others and using Creative Commons licences. You will be able to apply your knowledge of copyright, including ownership of intellectual property, to effectively protect your own rights when liaising with publishers.

What is copyright?

Copyright laws define and protect the rights of a creator of a piece of written or recorded literary or artistic work, such as sound recording, film, art works or written text. Copyright does not apply to ideas or concepts, styles or techniques. Books, conference papers, web pages, computer programs, journal articles, play-scripts, artworks (including book jackets and album covers), videos, music recordings, TV and radio broadcasts are all protected by copyright.

In Australia, you do not have to apply or register to be recognised as a copyright owner of your own work. There is no requirement to put a copyright notice on your work, nor is there a need to formally publish the work for copyright to apply. A copyright owner has an exclusive right to copy/reproduce the work and (if applicable) to perform it publicly. A copyright owner can sell rights to, or prevent others from, reproducing or performing their work. As a general rule, you cannot reproduce (copy) anything for publication, entertainment or sharing purposes, unless you have the copyright owner's permission.

However, under the 'fair dealing' provisions within the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968 (Copyright Act), individuals are allowed to reproduce limited portions of copyright materials for the purpose of criticism, review, study, research, parody or satire without permission. Fair dealing for research or study applies to your use of other people’s copyright material in writing and submitting your thesis for examination. 
“Fair dealing” does not apply when copyrighted material is made available on the Internet as it is then considered to be published. Before making your thesis available online, consider whether you want to publish parts of it elsewhere, such as in a journal article or book chapter. After your thesis has been examined, you may be required to submit a digital copy of your thesis for the Library collection which will be made publicly available online through ResearchOnline@ND.

Therefore, if you have included material from other people’s work in your thesis, you will need to obtain the copyright owner’s permission before the digital version is placed online. Citing the source of the material is sufficient for a print copy held in a library and not available for loan. However, a citation is not sufficient when you are sharing the material online.

You are required to attach written evidence of permissions to your final thesis submission form. If you have not been able to obtain the necessary permission by the time you are ready to submit your thesis, you will need to remove the copyright material from the digital version (it can remain in the print version). See this section of the NDA Copyright guide for students on getting permission.

It is important to understand that copyright also applies to material included in journal articles and conference papers that you have written. You may be asked to assign your copyright to the publisher.

When you submit an article to a journal for peer review and publication, read the publishing agreement provided by the publisher. If the agreement requests that you transfer copyright to the publisher, negotiate retaining some rights for yourself. Such rights might include the right to use the material for research and teaching, or the right to deposit your final manuscript (post-print) in an open access repository.

See these NDA links for more information:

How do we as researchers get started with copyright, particularly when using images in our publications? The following guide provides a summary by Alison Gowers (NDA Copyright Officer) to best practice when working through this process and answers some important and commonly asked questions that arise both before and after publication, when it comes to understanding the copyright associated with images and the choices available to creators.

Thesis authors are often approached to relinquish their work freely by publishers who will then sell the work for profit. Before you decide whether or not to accept an offer to have your thesis published as a book, ask the publisher if they will be contributing proof-reading, copy-editing and typesetting. Also consider the reputation of the publisher in terms of other works they have published and if these are held in academic libraries. If their publications are only theses, be aware that the finished product may have no more status than a self-published book.

If the publisher asks you to transfer copyright, remember that this may prevent you from re-using material in your thesis in future publications. If you decide to proceed, before you sign any contract you must advise the publisher that you have already granted Notre Dame University of Australia a non-exclusive license to make the thesis available via ResearchOnline@ND. Your thesis is your intellectual property. It is valuable and worth managing carefully as it is preferable to retain your copyright and ownership.

Intellectual property includes patents, trademarks, and designs, copyright for original material, inventions and confidential specialised information. 
Early in your candidature even on commencement, consult your supervisor as to whether the research project requires you to complete an Intellectual Property Agreement. This discussion is usually initiated by your supervisor. 

There is a difference between intellectual property created by students and staff at Notre Dame Australia. See the Policy: Intellectual Property for more details.

Notre Dame Australia students own the intellectual property that they generate. However, students may need to assign their intellectual property to NDA if a project is externally funded in order to fulfil NDA’s legal obligations or has clear commercialisation potential and objectives.

By law, Notre Dame Australia is the owner of intellectual property created by NDA staff during the course of employment (e.g. a laboratory technique whilst doing research at the university), however it does not extend to work done outside employment at NDA (for example a song written in leisure time).

To be sure of rights and obligations regarding intellectual property, read NDA Policy: Intellectual Property.