We normally think of copyright as protecting the content of books, journal articles, images, music, and films. But it also protects research data (though recent Australian case law indicates that not all data has copyright protection). Copyright requires no formal registration and begins once a dataset has been created.  Whilst the © symbol is not a legal requirement, it indicates who the copyright owner is (eg © 2017 Griffith University).


Normally Griffith University (as the employer) owns the copyright in research data, but permits academics to publish research data that they create (see Griffith’s IP policy). HDR candidates normally own the copyright in their research data.  With joint research projects there is normally joint copyright ownership.  It is often best to clarify in writing who owns the copyright at the beginning of such projects.  Funding agreements can also determine copyright ownership. In addition, copyright ownership can be assigned (handed over) to other parties.




If you want to include images, videos or music belonging to others in your dataset, then you will need to get permission from the copyright owner if you are publicly displaying or publishing these works.  

Alternatively when the copyright in works has expired, you can freely use these works (without permission).




When publishing your data, it is best to put a licence on your data so others know how they can use your data.  

Researchers are encouraged where possible to put a CC Attribution 4.0 International licence (CC BY 4.0) on their work as this licence permits maximum reuse of the data (as long as the creators of the dataset are attributed).

For information on other Creative Commons licences to consider when publishing data, see the Australian Government Open Access and Licensing Framework (AUSGOAL).

For assistance and advice on these and other licences, contact the Information Policy Officer.


Can I use and publish data belonging to others?

Whether you can use, combine and even publish datasets whose copyright belongs to others will depend on how each of those individual datasets is licensed.  Copyright laws for data can also vary between countries.  

Contact the Information Policy Officer for assistance.


Ethics, Consent and Sensitive Data

Researchers will generally need Ethics approval to collect sensitive data.  Data which is sensitive for personal, commercial, cultural or other reasons should not be openly published.


However such data can often be de-identified and then published. Alternatively, an abstract of the data or metadata can be published with conditional access to the data permitted for other suitable researchers and collaborators.


In their consent forms, researchers  are encouraged to permit the broadest possible use of the data into the future, and not only for the initial intent of the research project.

The Australian Government Open Access and Licensing Framework (AUSGOAL) provides a restrictive licence template that is sometimes suitable when publishing information on sensitive data to allow restricted or mediated access.

Contact the Information Policy Officer for assistance.

 Robert Andrew  Corrupting The Linear  2016. Technology, aluminium, string and rocks.

Robert Andrew Corrupting The Linear 2016. Technology, aluminium, string and rocks.