During your research

Who owns copyright?

Copyright is generally owned by the creator or author of the material and it arises automatically - there is no need to register copyright. However, there are some exceptions as to who owns copyright - more information is available on the Copyright Ownership webpage.

If you want to use material from databases, datasets and directories then you will need to check whether or not the particular database, dataset or directory is protected by copyright, as copyright can subsist in the compilation of such information. The Copyright and Collecting Data webpage has more information.

Obtaining permission

If you are not sure whether you are allowed to use someone else's material then the best option is to contact them and ask for permission. How your research is used will also affect the type of permission you will need.

You should ask for permission in writing, so you have a record of it, and include details of the material you want to use and how you intend to use it.

Here are some useful steps to determine if you can include other people's material in your research that you plan to make publicly available.

How do I obtain permission?

What do I do first?

Check to see if there is a permission statement on the source of the information. For example websites quite often have a link to a copyright statement in the footer of the web page. There may also be a permission statement on the material.

I can't find a license or permission statement, now what?

If you can't find a permission statement you need to determine who owns the copyright in the material you wish to include in your research. If there is no apparent ownership statement on the material such as "?? Joe Bloggs 2010", you can:

  • Check the publishers website or other available information for details of copyright ownership or information covering authorisation to use the material; or if not available online
  • Write to the publisher of the source of the material requesting the details of the copyright owner.

I have identified the copyright owner, what is the next step?

Write to the copyright owner to ask for permission, including details of the material you want to use and how you intend to use it (see the sample permission letter in the Copyright for Researcher Toolkit below). If the copyright owner does not reply, write a follow up letter or make a follow up phone call. Some publishers may ask for a payment for the use of their material. If you don't want to pay for the use of the material you can:

  • delete it from the release copy of your research; or
  • rewrite to express the ideas in your own words and structure; or
  • contact the Copyright Office to discuss your options further.

I have contacted the copyright owner and they have given me permission to use their material in my research. Is there anything else I should do?

  • Acknowledge the permission from the copyright owner in your research.
  • Keep a record of all copyright material included in your research