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What is Copyright?

Copyright information

What gets copyrighted

Once a research or teaching output is expressed in a material form it is automatically protected by copyright.

Note that facts and data itself are not themselves copyrightable. What is copyrighted is the expression of those facts (in articles, posters, presentations, figures etc.) and the expression of that data (in curated datasets).


Who owns what

Owned by the University:

By working at La Trobe, you currently automatically assign all copyright to the University unless you negotiate specific case-by-case agreements otherwise. This includes:

  • Teaching and education materials
  • Computer programs, code, scripts and functions
  • Research publications
  • Research data

Retained by the researcher:

  • Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, other than those listed in the previous section (called "specified works")
  • Research outputs produced by students and honourary researchers

Owned by an academic publisher:

  • Articles published in academic journals (with the exception of open access publishers)

During the publication process, academic publishers typically require the transfer of copyright from the university to the publisher. Note that this only applies to the published version of the publication, so the university still retains copyright over the submitted version and associated data.


Rights of copyright owners

Under the Copyright Act, the copyright owner can reproduce, publish, communicate or adapt the research data. If other people want to do anything with these datasets or publications, they must obtain the permission from the University.

As the copyright owner, La Trobe University has, by default, exclusive rights to:

  • reproduce your research data in any format
  • publish your research data
  • communicate your research data (This means to make it available online or email to someone.)
  • adapt your research data.

If anyone else (including the researcher) wants to do any of these things, they will need the University's permission in each case by contacting Legal Services (


University policies

Intellectual Property Policy

Section 3 (5): Under the Intellectual Property Statute, the University owns IP generated by Staff Members in the course of employment except for Specified Works, which the authors own. The University does not own IP created by Students or Honorary Staff Members, except by express assignment.

Research Data Management Policy

Section 4C (20): La Trobe owns or has rights to use primary materials and research data created by University staff in accordance with the La Trobe University Intellectual Property Statute 2009 and Intellectual Property Policy, subject to any third party agreements in relation to that data.

Section 4C (21): Students and honorary staff of the University will normally own research data they create in accordance with La Trobe University Intellectual Property Statute 2009 and Intellectual Property Policy, but the University may from time to time request students or honorary staff of the University to assign or licence certain rights to their research data on agreed terms.

Section 4C (22): At the end of a research project which has been hosted by La Trobe, research data and primary materials remain the property of La Trobe, unless subject to a third-party agreement.

Sharing your research outputs

Permission to share

The university supports the open sharing of all academic outputs (including research and teaching materials).

For intellectual property that could potentially be commercially exploited, particular care should be taken to consult the university's commercialisation team (

  • The recommended license to use when sharing research and teaching outputs is the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license (further info)
  • The recommended platform to use for sharing research and teaching outputs is OPAL (further info


University policies

Intellectual Property Policy

Section 3 (12): The University encourages the authors of Teaching Materials to consider making such materials publicly and freely available, e.g., via the internet, or publishing commercially providing that those materials are not subject to a prior third party agreement, such as a contract for the design or delivery of a course or training program. 

Research Data Management Policy

Section 3 (7): The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles below should also be considered:

1. Findable: The date should have identifiers (and appropriate metadata that allow the data to be findable through disciplinary discovery portals (local and international).

2. Accessible: The data should be open unless there are privacy, national security or commercial interest concerns. There should be clarity and transparency around the conditions governing access and reuse.

3. Interoperable: To be interoperable the data will need to be in appropriate formats, to allow sharing.

4. Reusable: The data should have appropriate metadata that will allow for reuse.

Section 4H (36): Data related to publications should be deposited in the University's open access repository to ensure they are available to other researchers unless not appropriate and it does not comply with the relevant ethics approvals, University policies and national, state or territory regulations.