A report out next month will suggest the creation of a national advisory centre on copyright to help ensure universities do not lose out on valuable potential income.
The report's author, Ralph Weedon, based at the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Educational Systems, said there is a "clear desire" among institutions for more information and advice.
There was considerable variation in intellectual property rights policies and practices. "It would be inappropriate to suggest all institutions should work on the same model for copyright agreements. This is partly because of the right to institutional autonomy, but also because different institutions will have different priorities and strengths in generating intellectual property."
The study, commissioned by the funding councils' Joint Information Systems Committee, will recommend that all institutions review customs and practices with regards to copyright. Institutions should also have clear strategies on the ownership, management and licensing of copyright.
At present, responsibility for intellectual property rights in many institutions is "fragmented".
There is a general lack of awareness of the legal boundaries of copyright, and individuals have "major misunderstandings" of ownership, control and rights in relation to copyright.