Ownership is important as it determines who has control over how and when a work is used, as well as who uses it. Owners have the right to sell and license the work as they see fit and even to object if their work is mistreated.
The first owner of a copyright work is the creator of the work, except where a contractual arrangement alters this basic position. For example, the copyright in work produced under the terms of a contract of employment is usually owned by the employer.
Students will own the copyright in any work that they produce whilst at the University, although this is subject to any contractual obligations that they may enter into (e.g. with a funding body).
Most HEIs will have detailed Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policies in place that will provide appropriate guidance- see Regulations 3.16 for staff and 5.4 for students.
Where copyright works have been commissioned, the first owner is the creator, unless there is a contractual agreement stating otherwise. Care should be taken when commissioning work to ensure that ownership of copyright is clearly defined in the contract.
Creators retain what are known as Moral Rights even if they sell a work to another party. They can object if they are not identified as the creator of the work and if their work is misrepresented. Moral rights must be asserted and they can be waived by the authors, although they cannot be sold or licensed. However, moral rights do not apply to works created under contracts of employment.