Karen O'Neill

Karen O'Neill

Birmingham Law School
Doctoral researcher

Contact details


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Education (University College London)
  • LLM (with Distinction, University of Birmingham)
  • PhD in Law (University of Birmingham) My doctoral research commenced in Sept 2018 and is to be conducted by Sept 2021


I have over eighteen years’ experience lecturing in law, of which the last three years’ have been lecturing at a higher education establishment (The Open University).  I have six years’ managerial experience, where I was curriculum manager for the law departments of two further education colleges.  I have led and managed a team of assessors at senior level on national exam frameworks.

My research interests are in intellectual property law and cyberlaw, whereby my PhD thesis involves exploring ‘authorship’ in copyright law.

Doctoral research

PhD title
 Re-defining authorship for the creative rights of an author
Dr Chen Zhu and Dr Maureen Mapp
Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur


The aim of the thesis is to show that copyright law in the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, focuses more on the product rather than the intrinsic qualities of the author. The thesis will examine the special case of Naruto et al v Slater et al  (2018) which raised a legal issue of whether animals could be granted authorship in the context of the Copyright Act 1976. The case, although likely to be of an isolated nature according to the facts, raises significant legal issues for copyright law. The case challenges the legal responses to creativity, and other types of creativity, other than those associated to the human mind, and it raises the broader question of whether there is a right to ‘creativity’. These challenges, which my research hopes to address, may become more visible with the increase in algorithms in the creative sphere.

Other activities


University of Birmingham Research Poster Conference (June 2019)

I have been shortlisted from 165 applicants to present my doctoral research at this conference.

University of Birmingham Annual Research Conference 2019 

I will be presenting my research around the following theme: Ethics, theory and technology

Research grants:

I have been awarded a full research grant from the University of Birmingham (College of Arts and Law) to conduct my doctoral research.