A faculty member has authored learning materials for a UVU class that he teaches, and wishes to license these using Creative Commons license (http://www.creativecommons.org). Assuming that these materials are not considered “scholarly work” (Policy 136 2.21), UVU owns the intellectual property.
Does the faculty member have the right to assign a Creative Commons license to these materials, or is any assignment of CC license by the faculty member legally invalid?
UVU’s interest in preserving ownership of IP centers on the marketability and potential profit-sharing inherent in work-for-hire products. While CC licensing does not prevent for-profit marketing of IP by the owner, it may be seen as a detriment to the marketability of CC licensed content (i.e. why would I pay for this when I can get it for free?). The reality is that the majority of faculty-authored materials will either not be marketed or not be profitable.
Possible responses include the following:
UVU could grant academic departments the right to allow faculty to license faculty-authored content under a Creative Commons license. This approach eliminates any need for the expenditure of UVU resources for the oversight of CC licensing, and makes the practice simple and easy for faculty and departments.
UVU could provide a clear and accessible avenue by which faculty authors may make a request to license their UVU-owned materials under a CC license. This approach is implied in UVU Policy 136 8 (“the Creator shall submit…”). A high level of responsiveness to such requests would be crucial to the success of such a process.
An academic department has partnered with Distance Education to produce a fully online course with electronic text, and original graphics, video, and sound. Because these course materials were created using UVU faculty and Distance Education staff, the IP is owned by UVU as stated in Policy 136 1.3. The academic department would like to publish the online course materials as opencourseware on their departmental web site using the Creative Commons license required by the OpenCourseWare Consortium (http://www.ocwconsortium.org).
Does the academic department have the right to publish the online course materials as opencourseware? If so, is it necessary for the academic department to request permission or inform the creator(s) and administrator(s) involved in development (as implied in Policy 136 8)?
A strong case for UVU to broadly support opencourseware can be made, one which highlights enhancement of UVU’s academic reputation, international attention and public relations, increased student satisfaction, facilitated faculty collaboration, etc. Indeed, UVU has demonstrated interest in the idea of OCW by granting Jared Stein (Distance Education) funds from the Merit Foundation for the development of opencourseware in collaboration with the department of Automotive Technology in 2007. A central argument of Mr. Stein’s proposal was that UVU has a unique opportunity to fill an important niche in the current opencourseware movement.
Possible responses include the following:
The President’s Office could make a broad declaration supporting opencourseware, and author a new policy governing faculty publication of UVU-owned IP as OCW. This approach would simplify the process, and encourage faculty and departments to engage in the opencourseware movement.
Rather than author a new policy, the UVU IP office could reference opencourseware specifically in UVU Policy 136, and articulate a CC licensing application and OCW review process for departments or faculty wishing to publish materials as opencourseware. Additionally, because it is already immersed in the development of online course materials and other digital content, Distance Education should be appointed the official support unit for publishing OCW. DE would thereby be responsible for maintaining a single Web site designated as the official OCW site for UVU.
Two UVU faculty members (Faculty “A” and Faculty “B”) collaborated with Studios & Engineering on the creation of a series of video lectures to be used as supplementary material in a UVU course. Faculty “A” would like to publish the videos as opencourseware under a Creative Commons license. Faculty “B” objects to such publishing of the videos.
Is the first faculty member able to publish the content as opencourseware? Is the second faculty member able to prevent such publishing?
How is the matter complicated if a UVU department materially invested in the project (in this hypothetical, Studios and Engineering) wishes to either support or contest OCW publishing?
Though it is clear under Policy 136 8 that “the Creator(s) shall obtain from all individuals who may be working on its development, a written waiver form assigning ownership and agreeing to non-disclosure”, the wording of the policy refers only to commercialization of UVU-owned Intellectual Property. If UVU decides to support opencourseware, it needs to include opencourseware in Policy 136, or author a separate policy for opencourseware. The dissemination of such a policy could defuse tensions or disagreements before they occur.
Possible solutions include the following:
If there is an application process for the publishing OCW (as in Scenario 2 solution B), multiple authorship can be addressed inline. If there is no application process for publishing OCW (as in Scenario 2 solution A), the IP policy needs to provide faculty co-authors with a process by which they might file objections to OCW publishing.