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Faculty’s intellectual property rights in question

Assistant News Editor

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 22:01

Faculty Senate

Kassidy Turnpaugh | The Houstonian

Members of the Faculty Senate discuss agenda items at Thursday's meeting.

Faculty members of Sam Houston State University raised concerns over whether their intellectual property remains with them or the university during a faculty senate meeting Thursday.

Senators addressed the issues and confusion surrounding their rights to copyrighted materials, unauthorized use, and Texas State University System’s policies on course materials.

“I had a senior faculty member come to me this past week very concerned about this very issue,” Sen. David McTier (COFAMC) said. “There is some real confusion about this.”

According to Section 3.03 of SHSU’s Intellectual Property Policy, Academic Policy Statement 090130, the rights of intellectual property remain with the creator unless the property in question was, “developed with the significant use of funds, space, equipment, or facilities,” belonging to the university, or “substantial resources.”

In addition, the senate found the use of the term “substantial” too vague to determine a bright line of when, in the process of using university-owned materials, an individual starts to use a substantial or significant amount of the university’s resources.

“If the trigger is university resources, then if someone writes a book in their office, does that become the university’s property?” McTier asked.

Another point of debate revolved around what qualifies as financial compensation, outside of a work-for-hire basis, and if it has to be in addition to one’s salary or if salary counts as a form of financial compensation for copyrighted materials.

Such details are not clarified by SHSU’s Intellectual Property Policy and have left many professors confused about what qualifies as their own property and that of the university.

The senate moved to bring in an attorney to future meetings to give advice on the policy.

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