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Copyright is automatic and places an "all rights are reserved" setting on writing, illustrations, music, recordings, photographs, Style Sheets -- almost anything in a 'fixed' form. There doesn't have to be a copyright symbol © in order for something to be "all rights reserved" copyright. 


Assume something is fully copyright protected unless there is a permissive licence applied which says otherwise, for example a Creative Commons license.


Copyright law uses a property metaphor and the 'ownership' of a copyright is an exclusive right to:


Learn how to earn an income from the copyright in your works by reading through the CopyrightUser website.

Copyright Awareness at the University




Copyright Scenarios




Student Rights


Undergraduate students and students on taught masters own their IP including their copyright as outlined in the Student Contract in the Main Terms and Conditions.


Students copying materials when completing assignments or for the purposes of research, don't require permission to copy. Fair Dealing for the purposes of personal, non-commercial research provide an exception to copyright.


If materials are being distributed (shared online), however, fair dealing might not apply.


For example, all the articles, reports, images, films, radio programmes etc. in our Online Library are property of their publishers unless otherwise stated in their copyright licensing Terms and Conditions.


Understand how to publish legal images, texts, and sounds before allowing anyone other than your lecturers and fellow students to see your portfolios or social media.


Researcher Rights


The University of Brighton's IP office publishes policies for Researchers. Research students often waive their IP except for the copyright in their thesis. 


Scholarly journals expect contributors to obtain relevant permissions when using copyrighted material for publication. Understand how to include copyrighted images, texts, and media in a thesis before publishing.


There are exceptions to copyright law which permit some copying and sharing of works when undertaking research. When invoking an exception to copyright it is important to use the work as a 'fair and honest minded' person would use the work. This concept is understood as 'fair dealing' in UK copyright law.


The Intellectual Property Office publish a guide to exceptions for research purposes which explains when the exceptions can apply to your use of a copyright work.


Lecturer Rights


Staff at the University of Brighton retain the copyright in books, articles and lectures produced under employment at the University. However, the University asserts copyright in several other works, such as patents, produced while in employment. See our Intellectual Property Office Policy on IP Generated by Employees.

Copying materials for teaching

If you are copying texts for students on a course, then your copying is covered by our CLA licence. The licence isn't a carte blanche for copying and it's important to observe the guidelines as set out in our Teaching FAQs.


The IPO issues guidance on exceptions to copyright in teaching.


Rights for Persons with Disabilities


The legislation regarding copying for persons with disabilities can be found on the UK Government website.


It is now legal for the University of Brighton to make copies of materials in any format and to adjust them so they are suitable for students or staff with differing physical and cognitive abilities. Previously we could only alter materials for students or staff with visual impairments. Now this is expanded to include any type of disability. Contract terms will not override the exception. However this exception will only apply where an accessible copy is not available commercially at a reasonable cost.


For example, you can now subtitle a film, however if there is an accessible version available to purchase you must do this. If you wish to prepare copies for staff or students with disability, please contact for further advice.


Author Rights


"When you decide to publish an article in a peer-reviewed journal, you own the full copyrights to that article. If you publish in an open access journal, you retain your full copyrights. However, if you choose to publish in a traditional subscription access journal, you will be required to sign a form transferring some – or all – of your copyrights to that publisher."


Practical guidance including addendums for contracts is available on the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) website


Maker Rights - designs, patents, and trade marks

Patents – for inventions

You may have heard about patents in the media. They are often thought of as the smart way to protect ideas. But in reality patents are difficult and expensive to get. And often they are not the right form of protection for your idea.


Patents protect inventions. The invention must satisfy three criteria: it must be something that can be made or used; it must be something completely new; and it must be genuinely inventive – not just a simple modification to something that already exists.


Examples of things you can’t patent include artistic works, ways of doing things (e.g. playing a game or following a business method), scientific theories and some computer programs and mobile apps. If your invention becomes patented, you keep exclusive rights over it for 20 years (in the UK). No-one else can use it or copy it. This could give your patented idea significant commercial value.


The patent application process is long and costly. Only 1 in 20 applicants get a patent without professional help, so you are advised to employ a patent attorney. With professional help, applications typically cost £4,000 and take around 5 years to be granted (which is why you often hear that “patent is pending” on TV shows like Dragons’ Den).


The IPO issues guidance on patents


Sara Blakely, the inventor of Spanx® underwear, has become a billionaire through her smart use of patents. Blakely cut the feet off a pair of body shaping pantyhose to create something she could wear under white trousers. By patenting her invention she warded off competitors and protected her business.


Registered designs – for products


By registering your design with the IPO you can legally prevent others from using it for up to 25 years, though you have to renew every 5 years. Once registered you can display your registration number on your design.


You can register the look of a product you’ve designed to stop people copying or stealing it. The look of your design includes the appearance, physical shape, configuration (or how different parts of a design are arranged together) or decoration.




To register your design, it must be new, not be offensive (for example feature graphic images or words), be your own intellectual property, not make use of protected emblems or flags (for example the Olympic rings) and not be an invention. You cannot protect the functionality of a design – for example a chair that folds down more quickly than others of the same kind.


Applying to register a design involves submitting illustrations. It costs £50 to register one design. Your design could be the shape of the product, colours and patterns, texture and/or ornamentation, packaging, the ‘get-up’ of the product (Evian’s distinctive red oval and blue mountain range is get up), graphic symbols (such as an icon on a computer screen or a cartoon character) and typefaces.


The IPO issues guidance for law on design.


Trade marks - for brand names


You can register your trade mark to protect your brand, for example the name of your product or service. When you register your trade mark, you’ll be able to: take legal action against anyone who uses your brand without your permission, including counterfeiters; put the ® symbol next to your brand - to show that it’s yours and warn others against using it; sell and license your brand.


Your trade mark must be unique. It can include words, sounds, logos, colours or a combination of any of these. Your trade mark can’t be offensive, for example contain swear words or pornographic images. 


It can’t describe the goods or services it will relate to, for example the word ‘cotton’ can’t be a trade mark for a cotton textile company.


It mustn’t be misleading, for example use the word ‘organic’ for goods that aren’t organic. And 3-d shapes cannot be trademarked.


Any phrase trademarked must not be common and non-distinctive, for example be a simple statement like ‘we lead the way’, and any logo cannot look too similar to state symbols like flags or hallmarks.


You pay £100 to register a trade mark in the UK, plus £25 for any additional category (known as a ‘class’) you wish to add. You can find a list of trade mark classes on the IPO’s website.


Even sounds can be trademarked. Tarzan’s yell, Darth Vader’s breathing and Homer Simpson’s D’oh are just some that have been protected by their creators.


NEW Request a Copyright Workshop




Would your department, team, or student group like a talk or workshop about copyright? Information Services works with groups of all sizes and disciplines to remix our core copyright workshops and activities for their needs. Take a look at our Workshops for our regular teaching: Digital Media and Copyright; Copyright and Education; Basics of Copyright.


Need specialist IP advice? Our associate expert Ian Goodyer runs insight-packed workshops called ‘Protecting You And Your Ideas’ find out more and reserve your free place.

Page owner: Lisa Redlinski