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Intellectual Property, Ownership and Digital Course Materials: A Study of Intellectual Property Policies at Two and Four Year Colleges and Universities

From: portal: Libraries and the Academy
Volume 2, Number 2, April 2002
pp. 255-266 | 10.1353/pla.2002.0035


The Center for Intellectual Property (CIP) at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) conducted a study of the intellectual property policies of seventy-nine two- and four-year academic institutions to identify their copyright ownership policies for digital course materials (sometimes referred to as "courseware"). The purpose of the study was to determine: 1) how copyright ownership rights were distributed between the faculty and their institutions, 2) whether separate or subordinate policies were used to clarify copyright ownership for digital course materials, 3) whether institutions used contracts and, if so to what extent, and 4) which policies were considered exemplary for the purpose of identifying "best practices" in the field.

Sixty-eight institutional representatives responded for a response rate of 86 percent. The study results indicate that most institutions have one overarching policy, contracts are in use at many institutions, policies are typically rather recent but are still considered inadequate by respondents, and separate or subordinate policies are rare although they do provide excellent information on how to address the ownership question successfully.

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