Exceptions to UW authors retaining all rights in copyrightable materials arise
- Funding arrangements
- “Work for hire” in copyright law
- Significant use of UW resources
- Commissioning works
Exceptions arise when there are internal University funding arrangements, such
as use of Royalty Research Fund (RRF) or University Investment Fund funding
or release time to devote to a University commissioned work.
Exceptions can arise when use is made of University facilities, equipment,
Exceptions also arise when work is prepared as a required product or major
focus of externally sponsored research in which there are conditions restricting
copyright privileges. When a work is a routine progress report prepared as a
required element in sponsored research, and has not been created with significant
use of University facilities, equipment, or support services, the copyright
will be with the author.
Other exceptions arise in the development of works through external funding
arrangements under which the University has specific ownership obligations or
when the University has commissioned a work in writing.
Works made for hire
Copyright law provides that employers may own the works of their employees that
are created within the course and scope of employment. Such works are defined
in the law as "works made for hire."
Some works created by employees at the University are works made for hire,
others are not.
The University does not assert ownership of all works that may be considered
works made for hire, only those where special circumstances dictate University
ownership is appropriate.
Interpreting the policy
When exceptions apply, copyright will vest with the University and a work will
be considered either "University-owned" or "University-sponsored".
These terms are somewhat confusing, as the University may have an ownership
interest in both types of works.
University-owned works are typically works specially commissioned by the University,
while University-sponsored works are typically works created with University
funding or resources. This distinction has a bearing on royalty sharing if revenue
is generated from licensing the work.
Materials shall be "University-owned" within the meaning of this policy
statement if the work is a “work for hire” under copyright law,
or if the author was commissioned in writing by the University (or one of its
colleges, schools, departments, or other divisions) to develop the materials
as a part of the author's regularly compensated duties, as for example, released
time arrangements in the case of faculty members. -- University
Handbook, Volume Four, Part V, Chapter 7, Section 2B2
Much work prepared by staff employees in the course of their normal activities
would be University-owned.
For a work to be University-owned, there must be a written understanding that
a particular work is to be developed for the University as part of an individual's
employment. This is not a general statement that any work prepared by an employee
belongs to the University.
"Materials shall be 'University-sponsored materials'" within the meaning
of this policy statement if the author developed the materials in the course
of performance of his or her normal duties and utilized University staff, resources,
or funding to develop the work." -- University Handbook, Volume Four,
Part V, Chapter 7, Section 2B3
Faculty and Student Scholarly Activity
Student and faculty scholarly works would not normally be University-owned.
"As to a faculty member, 'normal duties' does not include his or her usual
scholarly activity unless it involves extensive uncompensated use of University
resources." -- University Handbook, Volume Four, Part V, Chapter 7,
"As to a faculty member, 'commissioned in writing' specifically does not
refer to his or her general obligation to produce scholarly works." --
University Handbook, Volume Four, Part V, Chapter 7, Section 2B2
Before a work begins, it is desirable to have a written agreement about the
rights of the University and of participants whenever (1) a question exists
as to whether the materials will be University-owned or University-sponsored,
or (2) copyrightable materials are likely to result from the joint efforts of
persons in academic departments and service departments within the University.
-- University Handbook, Volume Four, Part V, Chapter 7, Section 2B4
Questions about ownership and exceptions
Whenever there is a question regarding ownership of copyright and whether or
not exceptions apply, consult the UW TechTransfer for additional information
and an opinion with regard to the University's ownership interest.
Full text of the copyright policy
Handbook, Volume Four, Part V, Chapter 7, Section 2