Appendix 5: LRTS and Copyright

Among the many missions of a university, none is more important than the development and exchange of ideas, information and discoveries. Daily, members of a university community interact with other individuals or groups, with printed books, journals, handouts, and manuscripts, with audio and video resources, and with digitally stored and transmitted resources. This appendix discusses the rationale for policies with regard to intellectual property rights and applicable state and federal laws, compliance issues and establishing ownership.

The widespread adoption of information and other technologies on campus should increase the amount of scholarly and creative achievements that members of the university will want to distribute to others and to patent. Likewise increase access to information and communications technology should increase the use by members of the university community of intellectual property produced by others. The absence of any university or MnSCU system policies with regard to intellectual property rights and applicable state and federal laws could have the following potential negative outcomes.

  1. The University or members of the university can be exposed to prosecution by failing to monitor and assure that the use of copyrighted materials on campus comply with "Fair Use" guidelines.
  2. The University's failure to secure available and appropriate protection can discourage dissemination of locally produced scholarly or creative achievement or patentable inventions or other intellectual property.
  3. The University's failure to protect the respective interests of all members of the university community by not ensuring that the benefits of locally produced creations or inventions are retained by the author/creator (or the property owner, e.g., the University or contractor, as circumstances may justify or require).

For these reasons, the University needs to establish an office to deal with myriad copyright and licensing issues. The personnel in this office would have two primary duties: to monitor compliance with copyright and license agreements and to establish ownership of locally produced intellectual property.

  1. The first and most visible issue that needs to be addressed is copyright compliance within the University.

    Learning Resources and Technology Services currently monitors Fair Use Guidelines for interlibrary borrowing, publishes copyright warnings on photocopiers, receives appropriate copyright permission to "reformat" film materials to video and makes every effort to monitor and comply with subscription license agreements for digital resources (accessible either via CD-ROM or Internet). University Printing Services, similar to Kinko's and other duplication/printing services, requires faculty to demonstrate copyright permission before publishing compilations of course readings.

    Both copyright law and license agreements, even under Fair Use Guidelines (17 U.S.C. §107), impose restrictions on both access to and dissemination of electronic information resources as well as interlibrary "lending" of such resources in either print or electronic form. A central clearinghouse to facilitate the process will assure that faculty and students have access to the same information and instructional resources independent of their point of access. This is particularly important if the number of "remote" students increase, that is, students who do not come to the campus for coursework. The increasing need to maintain compliance while assuring both access and fair use, in both paper and digital formats, requires an office or individual to
    • educate users (faculty, staff, and students) about and communicate applicable rights under copyright and affiliated laws, especially the Fair Use Guidelines
    • determine the identity of the copyright owner
    • obtain or purchase copyright or license permission to reformat (e.g., convert analog video tapes to digital video storage or paper text from serials or monographs to digital text) or "repurpose" (e.g., integrate a digital audio or video text beyond the copyright maximum into an electronic course, presentation or publication to be "broadcast" electronically)
    • obtain or purchase copyright or license permission to republish articles, sections of books, or segments of audio or video recordings as part of a course readings "packet" or "electronic reserve" component of a digital syllabus
    • obtain or purchase copyright or license permission to use graphic images, video clips, or audio clips in course materials or University publications or materials
    • assure copyright and license compliance for access to and dissemination of "digital library" subscriptions resources (also requiring a proxy server and/or X.509 digital certificates)
    • assure copyright, trademark, and license compliance for digital resources disseminated using University resources.
    Copyright and license agreements will have the greatest impact upon SCSU's ability to fulfill the information requirements and expectations of the central Minnesota community. Given the ease with which copyright and applicable state and federal laws and international conventions and treaties can be violated, the educational mission of the copyright office is particularly important. Monitoring all use of intellectual property owned by others is an enormous task -- a task that requires users to take some responsibility to follow the applicable state and federal laws and international conventions and treaties. The copyright office should be accessible and of assistance to individuals who wanted to use or alter protected materials.
  2. The second issue, of no less importance than the first (and in many minds more important), is that of establishing "ownership" for scholarly or creative works or inventions and instructional materials and course content. One of the potential outcomes of this information technology plan is more locally produced quality materials that should be distributed to others. It is imperative that the university community be able to enjoy benefits that these products could bring. As a public institution, the University has a responsibility to share the work done at the University for the betterment of the general community the University serves. A copyright office could clear the potential hurdles authors/creators encounter when they want to disseminate their work while retaining control over it.

    The copyright office needs to
    • propose policies for copyright and or patent ownership for locally created resources (either electronic, print, or other media) for faculty, staff, administrator, unit or institution
    • propose policies and or model contracts that protect the author/creator and the publisher/contractor while, when appropriate, retaining access and or dissemination rights by the University and its immediate constituents
    • establish licenses to allow individuals or groups to access locally created resources (e.g., course content or information resources) and when and where necessary establish confidentiality agreements with potential external partners on projects that will result in a copyrighted or patented product
    • propose policies and or model contracts recognizing University claims to any invention, design or development made by a member of the university community using significant university funds, support or technical resources, which do not inhibit faculty or staff creativity or innovation.

    "Ownership" of scholarly or creative works or inventions developed as part of the "workload" is a broad and sensitive policy issue that needs to be negotiated between creators (faculty and staff) or their agents (respective unions) and institutions (the University and or MnSCU). Historically, faculty in universities have owned the copyright to their instructional materials, but recently in some universities in the U.S. the tendency seems to be to place a major proportion of "ownership," including of the design and content of course curriculum and instructional materials, in the hands of university or system administration. One impetus for recommending a university office be responsible for intellectual property rights is to propose and implement policies on "ownership" that would delineate what rights accrue to whom for what and how long. For some people, the current ambiguity in ownership means that potential benefits to the University, students and even to creators of scholarly or creative works or inventions are lost. For others, the absence of policy means that all rights belong to the author/creator.