Q. As a tutor or lecturer, owns copyright of teaching materials I create?



The principal questions determining copyright ownership of material created by an employee in the course of an employer-employee relationship are:


  • was the copyright work created by the employee in the course of his/her employment? 
  • are there any agreements governing the copyright ownership of any employee created copyright materials?


Where a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, or a film, is made by an employee in the course of their employment, the employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

If the material was developed by the employee in the employee's own time and was not a part of the job duty/responsibility of the employee, the employee would own copyright in it.

With regard to protection of the material in countries outside the UK, the basic principle of UK copyright law is that copyright protection is automatic and that there is no need to register a work in order to copyright it. Therefore, the teaching programme would be copyright protected once it was expressed in a material form (in writing/printed format).

However, it is advisable to mark the teaching programme with the '©' symbol, and with the name of the copyright owner and the month and year of its creation/publication. This would serve as a note to others regarding the year in which the term of protection began and would indicate to them the person to be approached in case they need permission to use the work.

ARU's draft IP policy is attached to this answer (you need to be logged in).


  • Last Updated Sep 20, 2019
  • Views 320
  • Answered By Rebecca Mackle

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