To determine what you and others can do with works you create,
you need to know:
- How copyright happens
- How the work was formed
- How law, policy and contracts affect outcomes
Who Owns It?
When people create copyright works, often the first question is
"who owns it?" This is an important question because ownership
of the copyright in a work grants the owner several exclusive rights.
Tradition at most universities is that faculty own the rights in
certain types of works, such as scholarly articles, lecture notes,
and textbooks. In the past, these works have been predominately
print-based, single author works of scholarly in nature.
Determining and Apportioning Ownership
A question facing many organizations at this time is how to appropriately
apportion ownership of complex works that generally involve the
contributions of many individuals. Apportioning ownership can be
difficult in web pages, software, and multimedia. These new works
are far different from the works that preceded them because they
may involve the efforts of designers, programmers, and technicians
in addition to faculty or student authors. Further, significant
financial resources may be involved.
A blanket determination of ownership based on the type of work
is unrealistic. U. S. Copyright law, University copyright policy,
and contractual arrangements, such as sponsored research agreements,
all can affect ownership of a copyright work. These issues are discussed
in greater detail in the Ownership Factors section of this site.
Before you can resolve questions regarding ownership and use of
works you create, you need to know how copyright is established
and what having these rights means. You'll also need to know a great
deal about the work itself and how it was formed if you need to
look to the law to provide an answer.