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Tip of the Week - #6

Here's Your I.P. Tip of the Week, brought to you by your friendly Intellectual
Property campus coordinator.

The sixth Tip of the Week related to Intellectual Property (I.P.) deals with the
concept of ownership of I.P. works that are created by students.

Definition: “A student is an individual who was or is enrolled in class or

program at any MnSCU college or university at the time the intellectual
property was created.” (Board Policy 3.26, Part 3, Subpart Q)

Scenario One: Faculty member Betsy Baker is preparing a presentation for a

national conference related to her program area. One of her students is
particularly talented as a graphic designer and also can create PowerPoint
presentations of a very high quality. The student offers to create the
PowerPoint slideshow for Ms. Baker’s presentation at the conference. Ms.
Baker accepts the offer from the student and provides her with some notes
from which the PowerPoint slideshow is to be developed.

The student prepares the slideshow using the notes as a guide but includes
some original text and digital graphics. When Ms. Baker receives the
PowerPoint file, she is surprised to see both names (faculty and student) on a
copyright notice on the first title slide. Ms. Baker doesn’t believe that the
student is entitled to be included on the copyright notice since the faculty
member is making the presentation and the presentation is based on the
faculty member’s notes.

Question: Does the student have a valid claim to copyright for the
PowerPoint slideshow?

Answer: Most likely she does. The PowerPoint presentation is a separate

(albeit derivative) work. The student used the faculty member’s notes but
used her own skill and creativity in creating the PowerPoint presentation.
The greater the amount of work (especially new text and graphics) that the
student puts into the creation, the greater the student’s claim to ownership.
The faculty member should have addressed copyright issues with the student
before taking the student up on her offer.
Scenario Two: A college student creates a video as part of a required project
for a class. The faculty member (Mr. O’Brien) is very impressed with the
video and thinks that it is a more useful learning object for the particular
topic area than the materials that are provided by the textbook publisher. Mr.
O’Brien has a digital copy of the student video stored on his computer.
O’Brien decides that he would like to use the video in future semesters to
better illustrate the learning concept contained in the video.

O’Brien is not concerned about intellectual property issues since the student
created the work in completion of a course requirement. O’Brien believes
that he has the right to use the video without the student’s permission.

Question: Is O’Brien’s use of the video without the student’s permission


Answer: No. Intellectual property rights in student works belong to the

student who created the work and should not be used by others without
permission. “Fair use” is probably not a strong argument in this case since
the work will be used in its entirety and it also may have commercial value
to the student (it is better than the publisher’s materials). O’Brien should
contact the student for permission to use the video.

Let’s change the facts about the video creation. Assume that the student was
hired into a work/study position and was paid to do various projects for the
faculty member, including the creation of the learning video. Although it
would still be a good idea to have a written agreement related to the
ownership of the works, this would most likely be viewed as a “work for
hire” in which the college (the employer) owns the intellectual property.

Tune in again next week for your next Tip-o-the-week!!

The Tip of the Week is adapted from the Minnesota State Colleges and
Universities "Understanding Intellectual Property: A Guide to Board Policy