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Copyright at MIT: Researching and Writing/Creating

Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property (IP) "refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce" (WIPO).

Researchers develop all sorts of IP material in their research and most of this IP is copyright material such as books, articles, tables, reports, diagrams, datasets, editions, photographs, computer programs, music and films, and therefore protected under copyright law.

See MIT's Intellectual Property Policy and Procedure.

Why is Copyright Important in Research?

Copyright material is important in that it can help your academic reputation, future research and promotion prospects as well as help you financially.

Maintaining control over the copyright in your research material, allows you to influence these outcomes.  So ask:

  • What are the copyright implications of this?

  • What happens if I give my copyright to ...?

Photocopying and Scanning

You may copy for your personal research and study:

  • One chapter of a book, or 10% of the pages (10% of the words if the work is in electronic form) whichever is greater.
  • One article from a journal or newspaper, or more than one if each article is for the same research or course of study
  • 15 pages from an anthology (for example: a collection of short stories)
  • All of an artistic work, for example: a diagram or photo (when not available for separate purchase)
  • 10% of a sheet music piece or play  

Research and Copyright

For researchers, copyright affects you in 2 areas:

  • Using other people's work (third-party material) - anything used in your research may have copyright attached to it. This means you may need to check who holds the copyright, the copyright duration, whether your use of it comes under copyright exceptions or is covered by special licences or agreements, how much can be used, or whether you will need to get written permission to use it.

See Copyright Basics tab.

See also the Photocopying and Scanning and Document Delivery boxes on this page; For Students tab for further information on copying from other types resources.

  • Producing your own work - whatever ideas or information you express in a material form i.e. written as text or recorded as sound or images is automatically covered by copyright as soon as the work is created. There is no need to register for copyright.


See also the Why is Copyright Important in Research? box on this page.

Who Owns Copyright in Your Research?

Students: As creator of works, you own copyright in your research materials. This includes essays, theses, journal articles, reports, conference papers, books, diagrams, tables, datasets and photographs.

Staff: Generally copyright in research and administrative materials is owned by the Institute, but copyright in research expressed in books and articles belongs to the creator of them.

For more detailed information, see MIT's Intellectual Property Policy and Procedure.

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