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The Scholarly Commons offers workshops and consultation services on issues related to copyright. While we cannot offer legal advice, we can help you to identify information and issues you may want to consider whatever your copyright question. Information provided on the site, unless otherwise noted, is based only on US Copyright law. Copyright law in other countries may vary from that of the United States.

If you feel you need legal advice for your copyright issues, please consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. For copyright experts licensed in Illinois, visit http://ilf.isba.org/search.html and select "Intellectual Property" for field of practice.

This section serves as an information resource on copyright intended for the instructors, researchers, and librarians of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and provides several tools, links, and educational materials pertaining to copyright law. Instructors, researchers, and students frequently have questions about:

  • Whether material they wish to use is under copyright or is in the public domain;
  • Using copyrighted works in teaching, research, and scholarship, including what constitutes fair use;
  • Creating and licensing their own copyrighted works (See the Your Rights on the Scholarly Communication page); and
  • Use of licenses like the Creative Commons license whether in their own work or when using someone else's work.

Copyright is a complex and far-reaching area. The Scholarly Commons has brought these resources together in the hopes that they will:

  • Increase confidence in appropriate use of copyrighted materials;
  • Inform users of copyright resources available to them; and
  • Empower users with knowledge about their own copyrights.

Many of these pages were created by the Copyright Education & Consultation Program with generous funding from the Illinois State Library.

Intellectual Property


What is Intellectual Property (IP)?

Intellectual property refers to creative works such as:

  • Ideas , Discoveries,  Inventions, Processes
  • Know-how & Show-how
  • Original data
  • Artistic and Creative works
  • Copyrightable works

These works are represented in some tangible form such as:

  • Plans & records of research
  • Computer programs
  • Models, Machines, Devices, Apparatus,  Instrumentation, Circuits
  • Chemicals or Biological materials
  • Novels and other publications
  • Video & Sound recordings

and are protected by federal law under one or more of the following:

  • Registered or Unregistered Copyright
  • Patent
  • Registered or Unregistered Trademark
  • Trade secret

[Source: Understanding Intellectual Propertyhttp://otm.illinois.edu/uiuc_principlesofip]

Who owns Intellectual Property at the University?

“The University is the owner of all software, copyrightable works and inventions (intellectual property) created by employees in the performance of employment with the University, or created with University resources or funds controlled by the University, with the exception of copyrights in traditional academic works such as scholarly publications and course notes .“

General Rules, as promulgated by the Board of Trustees eff. Sept. 3, 1998 (“General Rules”), Article III, Section [section needed]


Creator Owned Works

Works created at the University and categorized as “Traditional Academic Works” or “Student Works” are owned by the faculty or student who created them.

  • Traditional academic works are works created independently and at the creator’s own initiative for traditional academic purposes. Examples of Traditional Academic Works include lectures, manuscripts, class notes, textbooks, and course content.
  • Student Works are works prepared as part of the requirements for a University degree, such as a thesis or dissertation. While the student owns the thesis, the University retains rights to publish and distribute the thesis as well as ownership rights to the underlying laboratory notebooks and original records of the research.

University Owned Works

The University owns all other copyrighted works. This includes works created as part of a grant or contract and works created as an employment duty or responsibility.

Intellectual Property shall belong to the University if made:

  1. By a University employee as a result of the employee’s duties.
  2. Through the use by any person, including a University employee, of University resources such as facilities, equipment, University funds, or other funds under the control of or administered by the University.

[Source:  Board of Trustees, Article III of General Rules Concerning University Organization and Procedure, January 24, 2013]

For more information about Intellectual Property:

Handbook for Inventors and Innovators   (Office of Technology Management)

Intellectual Property   (Office of University Counsel)

Intellectual Property Rights   (University Library)

Understanding Intellectual Property  (Office of Technology Management)

What is Intellectual Property?   (US Department of State)