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 appropriate? 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 3.26."