I have to conduct some interviews for my PhD with people from industry. I need them to review my proposed method in order to validate it. However, I might need to send my work to those who I cannot conduct the interviews with them face to face. So how can I ensure the copyrights of my work? I am going to publish the method and the results right after I finish the interviews but how can I ensure that my work is not going to be used or sent to others before I publish it.

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    This is not a question of copyright but of intellectual property, such as addressed by patents and similar.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:12
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    @NajibIdrissi: Copyright is what prevents the others from taking OP's work and just redistributing as is. – Not exactly; copyright is about dissemination and publishing. That would go some steps further than what the OP is worried about.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:19
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    You (sometimes your institution or employer) own the copyright of your work unless you sell or give it to someone else. What you need here is not copyright but a non-disclosure agreement. Check with your institution's legal or IP office for standard NDA contracts.
    – Cape Code
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:22
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    @NajibIdrissi: So in fact what OP wants goes further than copyright, yes? – Depends on your point of view, e.g. (very roughly), whether you put more value to ideas or concrete works. What the OP is worried about is only partially covered by copyright. In particular, in the most likely scenarios, copyright is not relevant at all.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:44
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    @NajibIdrissi: Are we talking in circles? – I do not see how. Copyright is still only marginally relevant to this question and when the OP uses the word copyright, they are almost certainly wanting to talk about something else.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


Short answer: You can't.

Firstly: Copyright extends to your text and figures, and slight modifications thereof. If someone submits that to a journal, you will have all the proof you need to sue him, because you can show the raw data, plus a halfdozen witnesses that saw you write it. Nobody in his right mind would even try.

If they steal your ideas: Tough luck. How will you prove they got them from you? If they're working in the same field, it's not unreasonable they've come to the same conclusions.

Anyway, companies are usually not interested in publishing, except to keep some other company from patenting, or for marketing reasons, in which case they'd rather have your name on the paper than their own.

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