Copyright protection

It’s best to presume that research data is protected by copyright, however this is not always the case. For example, machine created data without human creative input may not attract copyright protection.

Copyright ownership

HDR candidates own the copyright in the datasets they create (except when copyright is transferred to the University or another body by agreement). Griffith University owns the copyright in datasets staff create and permits their publication. Where two or more researchers significantly contribute to a dataset when working on a project, there is joint copyright ownership. Often researchers will sign an agreement assigning the copyright in the data to the project at the beginning.

Read the Intellectual Property policy

Publishing data

When publishing your dataset, it’s best to attach a licence to let others know how they can use it.  A good principle is to use the least restrictive licence that is applicable to your data so it is published as openly as possible.

If you want your data to be used as widely as possible, attach the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 International licence.  This permits others to use your data for whatever purpose (including mixing it with other data and republishing) as long as they reference your data,  link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.  Funding agreements often recommend this licence.  Alternatively the CC BY NC 4.0 International licence is identical, except it does not permit commercial use.

You may wish to publish software with your dataset to help others use and manipulate your data.   The BSD 3-Clause license is the software equivalent of a CC BY licence, permitting others to use your software as widely as possible.  However before publishing your software or attaching this licence, make sure any underlying open or proprietary software you may have included within your software permits publication and is compatible with this licence.

Sensitive data can often be deidentified and then published with a Creative Commons licence.  Where the data may not be deidentified, often an abstract describing the data can be published, and sometimes on request the data may be shared with other projects after Ethics approval.

Using data

Reusing datasets

Being able to reuse datasets created by others will depend whether the licence on the dataset matches your intended use.  For example, you may be permitted to use a dataset for your private individual research, but not permitted to mix this dataset with another dataset for publication purposes (without written permission from the copyright owner).

Using social media data

Social Media datasets generally contain copyright material (such as, comments, images, videos) whose copyright belongs to individuals and not to the Social Media platform (although tweets are generally not considered long enough to attract copyright protection).   Before using such data for your research you should check the site’s Terms and Conditions and policies.  Contact the Information Policy Officer for assistance.

Need help?

Advice and support

The Information Policy Officer provides copyright advice and training across Griffith University for staff and students. Contact the Information Policy Officer by emailing or phoning (0)7 3735 5695.

  • Reading List Service digitises and makes readings available online for students through Learning@Griffith in a copyright compliant way.
  • The Library assists with supplying movies and TV material for teaching in a copyright compliant way.
  • Griffith Enterprise advises on ownership and development of potentially commercial copyright, inventions and other IP created by staff and students.

Common questions