A brief introduction to copyright, ethics and consent

1. What is copyright?

1.1 Copyright for individual researchers

In the case of individual researchers, data that has been created is their own (i.e. you own the copyright) but the facts that they are based upon are not and generally cannot be placed under copyright.  Most research outputs (including data organising files such as spreadsheets and databases as well as publications and reports) falls under copyright as literary works.  Thus you are again protected.  The creator of any data is automatically the first copyright holder unless a contract re-assigns this or has it transferred.   

In an academic context the employer (often the university) is, in theory, the owner of copyright for any work made during the employee’s employment.  However, many academic institutions re-assign the copyright of research materials, data and publications to the researchers themselves.  This is not always the case, however, and should be checked with your home institution.