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Who owns the copyright of your creative works?

  • Search and download a copy of your county's Copyright act. Check if there are provisions for the ownership of creative works produced in the course of employment.
  • Confirm whether your country is a signatory of the Berne Convention.
  • Consult your employment contract to see if there are any provisions relating to the copyright of works you produce during the course of employment.
  • Your institution may have an intellectual property policy which determines the ownership of copyright. Some universities and colleges may assign copyright ownership of research outputs to the author, even though they are produced in the course of employment. Usually education institutions retain ownership of teaching materials produced in the course of employment.

Scan these documents to find out who owns the copyright of learning materials you create.

Generally speaking, initial ownership of copyright is vested in the creator / author of the work, except in the case of works made for hire. Works made for hire include creative works developed under contract or produced in the normal course of employment.

  • In common law countries, works produced in the normal course of employment, the employer is considered the first owner of copyright in the work.
  • In civil law countries which attach copyright solely to natural persons (i.e. where the law considers that legal entities do not have the capacity to create works), the initial ownership can only vest in the author(s). However, the employer, whether a natural person or legal entity, may acquire the rights by virtue of a contract.

Share your findings and thoughts

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Who owns the copyright of your teaching materials?

Contribute to the discussion and reflection on the ownership of teaching materials you create. Post your thoughts on WEnotes, twitter or Google+ and include the hash tag "#OCL4Ed" in your post, for example, I feel .... #OCL4Ed. Questions for consideration:

  • Who owns the copyright of the teaching materials you create?
  • How do feel about the ownership of your creative works?
  • Is it right for institutions to claim ownership of education materials?