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Archive for November, 2015

Replication Studies

Chris JHolland12 November 2015

In some branches of Science replication studies are common practice. Recently I received a query about possible copyright implications. What happens in general is that the results of an experimental study are published and other researchers seek to test the validity of the results by replicating the study as closely as possible.   How about copyright issues?

There is no copyright in the underlying ideas or the methods used in a study although there is copyright in a paper expressing the ideas and describing the methods. There may be a fine line. The replication study may need to quote extensively from the previous paper, for example, raising copyright questions. 

There must be an expectation on the part of academic researchers that others will want to replicate their studies. If it is necessary to reproduce work which is protected, then this may be covered by the Quotation exception – one of the recently introduced “fair dealing” exceptions in UK copyright legislation .  In case of doubt it will probably be straight-forward to request permission.

There is no intrinsic copyright issue in “re-staging” the experiment, but what if the study itself involves the use of works protected by copyright ? Think of a psycholology study which measures the subjects emotional reactions to a series of videos.

What if the videos were originally “borrowed” from YouTube without any copyright checks? That may create a serious problem for researchers wishing to replicate the study as closely as possible. This is an actual example described in the Guardian which underlines the importance of an awareness of copyright issues in research.