Distance Education and Intellectual Property

Defending the Freedom to Innovate: Faculty Intellectual Property Rights after Stanford v. Roche

Tensions over control of the fruits of faculty scholarship have been slowly building since the 1980s and have intensified over the last three years. There have long been differences of opinion over ownership of patentable inventions, but recently a number of universities have categorically asserted that they own the products of faculty research. And there is increasing institutional interest in declaring ownership of faculty intellectual property subject to copyright—most notably evident in demands that faculty members cede ownership of online courses and other instructional materials to their universities, a trend that began escalating in the 2012–13 academic year.

Statement on Intellectual Property

The management of inventions, patents, and other forms of intellectual property in a university setting warrants special guidance because it bears on so many aspects of the university’s core missions, values, and functions, including academic freedom, scholarship, research, shared governance, and the transmission and use of academic knowledge by the broader society.

Statement on Distance Education

Statement that identifies problems specific to distance education and sets forth the applicable principles and procedural standards for distance education programs, including areas of responsibility, appointments, selection of materials, technical considerations, and proprietary rights.

Statement on Copyright

Statement explaining faculty members’ basic rights of ownership of their intellectual property, prevailing academic practice, and exceptions in which colleges and universities may fairly claim full or partial ownership of works created by faculty members.