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Library Guides

Copyright for Researchers: Your Research

This guide provides guidance on copyright matters for researchers
student computer

Who owns your work?

The ownership of content produced in the course of your research, including data and published outputs is set out in the University of Westminster Intellectual Property Policy which you are advised to consult. As an employee of the University of Westminster the first owner of intellectual property generated in the course of employment is the University. In the case of externally-funded research or consultancy contract, the University is the first owner of the content and although they can assign ownership in the material to the project sponsor if the contract so requires.  The policy applies to all types of staff including technical and administrative staff and part-time lecturers. There are some exceptions to this rule including the outcomes of scholarly activity. The term “scholarly activity” means activity that is generally self-managed and may include the production of books, articles, conference papers, computer software, creative work in all media, professional updating and practice and personal academic development. It excludes work and results essential for the discharge of research and consultancy projects financed from external sources. It also excludes any material for distribution to students.

Further advice is available in the Guide to Intellectual Property  and you may request a copy of the University’s Intellectual Property Policy from

Copyright performances and consent

In creative subjects (e.g. drama, film studies, music or dance) your research qualifies for copyright protection as a piece of musical work, a sound recording, a film or as a performance. Performing, playing or showing your work to others are exclusive rights of the creator of a work and you have the right to grant permission (or licences) to others if they wish to perform your work or make a recording of a performance of your work, such as by using video or audio devices. You should ensure any contract that you negotiate with a third party who may wish to record your work, specifies the resulting ownership of any recordings. 

If your work includes content from elsewhere, you will need to ensure you have obtained permission to include this in any public performances of your work. For example if you have written a play, but include music from another artist you may need a licence or permission for this. 

If students or other individuals are involved in performing your work you should obtain consent from them if recording is taking place and ensure that any release forms they sign specify the ownership of the resulting work. Typically performers will qualify for ‘performance rights’ and you should take steps to ensure you have all the necessary rights you require if your work includes individual performers, even if they are students at the University. There is a standard release form available from the Marketing and Communications Team.

The right to perform a work for educational purposes is covered by an exception in the law. Therefore, if you are playing music or showing a play, film or other work to students as part of a course of study this is permitted. However, screenings or performances of copyright works for exhibitions or events that are open to the public will require licences. For further advice about performances, release forms  or other creative outputs please contact 


Credits and disclaimer

With thanks to Dr Jane Secker for authoring this guide © Jane Secker and licenced for re-use under Creative Commons  creative commons non commerical

Disclaimer: The guide in no way substitutes for formal legal advice. If you are in any doubt or require further information we recommend you consult the sources of further advice at the end of this guide.