Generally in the EU, copyright is owned by the natural person who creates the work. In most EU countries, the author or co-authors of a work are the first owners or co-owners of the copyright.

However, the IP systems in the EU currently vary between Member States that maintain a system of institutional ownership, and those which maintain a system of professor’s privilege (inventor ownership).

In many countries, when a work is made by an employee in the course of his/her employment, the owner of the work will be stipulated in the employee's contract, usually that the employer owns the any work created in the due course of employment.(e.g. the university would be regarded as the owner of a copyright to a work created by its researcher in the course of their employment, since the latter is paid to perform such a task).

Some countries of the EU have a specific type of "professor’s privilege" regime according to which the researchers, PhD students, etc. are entitled by law to the ownership of the work they created in the course of their employment (e.g. in Italy or Sweden). Results of publicly-funded research created or developed by researchers are thus owned by the latter and not by the academic institution where the research is carried out.