Copyright and Moral Rights

This webpage provides information relevant to the generation of copyright material from research projects. The Copyright Section of the Library & Information Services is responsible for administering JCU's obligations in respect of the use of copyright material.

Copyright Ownership and Publication

The ownership of copyright in a "work" (literary or otherwise) gives the owner the exclusive right to "copy" that work - through publication or other form of dissemination - and to license someone else to do likewise.

The general rule is that the person who creates a work will be the owner of copyright in the work. However there are exceptions to this rule, most notably that where a work is created by an employee in the course of employment, the employer will be the copyright owner.

Academic institutions have traditionally waived their ownership of academic copyright, at least in research or scholarly texts, and this is true of JCU. Researchers are therefore free to enter into contracts with publishers, as the copyright owner. Helpful information on what an author can expect from a publishing contract (including aspects that are unacceptable) is supplied by The Australian Society of Authors.

There is, however, one significant exception, namely the case where a research project is governed by an agreement with a third party, then also copyright ownership and exploitation will be governed by that agreement.  All enquiries about project agreements should be directed to, or extension 15238.

Note that authorship of a work, and hence copyright ownership in the first instance, is dealt with in the Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research.

Moral Rights

Moral rights are non-transferable personal rights of creators of works; they cannot be traded as per (intellectual) property rights. They apply to literary materials, musical, artistic and dramatic works, computer programs and cinematograph films.

Creators have the following rights:

  • to be attributed (or credited) for their work;

  • not to have their work falsely attributed; and

  • not to have their work treated in a derogatory way.

Moral rights apply except where they are specifically waived by the creator. It is not unusual for consultancy agreements to require that JCU obtains an author's consent to have one or more of their moral rights waived.

JCU takes any restrictions to authors’ rights very seriously, and the Research Legal Officer will always consult with affected researchers before recommending signing on to such terms.

Further Information

Probably the most useful site for information on copyright is that of the Copyright Council. The Council publishes a wide range of Information Sheets on all aspects of nature, production and use of copyright materials, but also publishes papers on legislative changes and other topical issues.