Distance Learning Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the

Academic Services Committee

Revised Minutes of December 3, 2001



Members Present: Ron Bohlander, Chair (GTRI), Yolonda Cameron (Legal), Monty Hayes (ECE), TyAnna Herrington (LCC), Claudia Huff (GTRI), Richard Meyer (Library), Andy Smith (Psych.)


Members Absent: Fred Allvine (Mgt), Joe Boland (Distance Learning), Steven Danyluk (ME), Jilda Garton (GTRC & OTL), Bill Holm (GTRI), Hans Klein (Pub.Pol.), Tom Pilsch (Computing), Craig Zimring (Arch.)


Visitors: none



1.   Ron Bohlander, Chair, called this 3rd meeting of the subcommittee to order at 4:05 p.m. in ERB 114 and reminded everyone that the purpose of this meeting was to review what other universities were doing with policy in relation to our primary question; i.e., when courseware is developed in digital or other electronic media, what are the respective rights (or ownership positions) of the faculty, the university, and any other stakeholders?

2.   Richard Meyer who led the research in this area for the committee handed out his review paper on this subject and discussed it.

3.   The floor was then open to discussion. Some of the highlights were:

·   There is some tendency to think of the control of intellectual property as being an all or nothing kind of a thing at one end of the spectrum or other, all faculty ownership or all university ownership. It’s probably better to seek something in between. The faculty and the university want the same thing basically: to leverage their resources to produce quality teaching and learning materials. (Richard Meyer)

·   On-line course materials are very different from textbooks. On-line course materials can have a more vital connection to the course and can depend more on the faculty who created them and knows what lese needs to be there. There is always going to be a lot of variety in the nature of course materials and so it is important to a) keep policies simple, b) have mechanisms that provide what the faculty and the university need, and c) have a mechanism for administering this. (Monty Hayes)

·   It is vital that incentives be nurtured through policy and administration or else the use of new learning modes will not flourish. There are incentives that can be described as “social capital” (like prestige), “work capital” (it’s your job), and extra compensation. Any and all are possibly relevant. The tenure system needs to evolve also to be in concert with our objectives. (Andy Smith).

·    The university software policy may be a model for what we need. The university declares its ownership. Faculty can license it. Royalties are shared. (Monty Hayes)

·   The fact that copyrights are really a bundle of rights and licenses can be granted to different parts of the rights mean that it doesn’t necessarily matter who owns the copyright as long as each stakeholder subsequently has a license to just what that stakeholder needs. I used to think that freed us up to keep copyright ownership consistent with the academic tradition (not necessarily followed here) that faculty own the copyright to textbooks they right, generally. The fact that universities have additional interests and concerns with course materials in digital media could be addressed in licenses back to the university. But I am coming to the view that this is no mercy to the faculty because so many of these course material sets are produced b collaborations of many folks. Much simplicity would be gained by the university owning the copyright and ensuring that faculty members have ready access to licenses to what they need. (Ron Bohlander)

·   Ty Herrington reminded us that under copyright law a policy cannot decide ownership but a contract can. Ron Bohlander pointed out that our employment contract might serve this purpose. While it is also a good idea to have explicit agreements up front before large projects are begun, it is not completely in our culture to take care of such things in a timely way so simple defaults must be provided.

4.   Ron Bohlander indicated the next meeting would be in January and that he would poll for good times. The focus will be on the third step of charting out what each major stakeholder must get from a policy in the area we are considering. We will probably need more than an hour.

5.   The meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.




Respectfully submitted,

Ron Bohlander, Chair

December 5, 2001