[Cc-uk] Academics are not free either...

Jonathan Mitchell website3 at jonathanmitchell.info
Thu Apr 28 18:03:26 EDT 2005

David Berry wrote: "Academics *technically* do not own
the copyright to their own work as they are designated as employee's
of the University, as I am sure you are all well aware, therefore the
employer owns their intellectual property . " Christian Ahlert wrote:
"almost all universities, I am aware of, have chosen to put into their
employment contracts that they own their employees intellectual work".

I am not an academic, but I question whether this corresponds to general UK
practice, or whether UK universities generally claim these rights.

For example, these are the first six UK university results I found on
googling 'academic copyright university contract "intellectual property"' :

1. Liverpool : "the University does not intend to assert ownership of
copyright in books, articles, lectures and artistic works, other than those
specifically commissioned by the University".
2. Newcastle ; "In the case of copyright other than copyright in  computer
software, the University agrees that members of academic staff, in
accordance with past practice, will be the owners of copyright in works
produced  in the course of their academic duties, provided there are no
third party  interests arising, for example, through a research contract. "
3. Oxford Brookes: "The copyright in any work of design compiled, edited or
otherwise brought into existence by you as a 'scholarly work' produced in
furtherance of your professional career shall belong to you...  The
copyright in any material produced by you for your personal use and
reference, including as an aid to teaching shall belong to you".
4. Southampton : "the University will not assert any possible ownership of
copyright in books, articles, lectures and other similar works apart from
those specifically commissioned by the University".
5. City : "The University makes no claim regarding printed publications by
members of staff other than course notes and syllabuses and examination
papers. Permission for staff to use such material in advancing their work
and pursuing scholarship will not normally be withheld".
6. Bath : "In accordance with normal  academic practice, and unless agreed
otherwise, the University does not claim copyright in scholarly output
produced by staff or students in the course of their employment or research
work or in the course of studies at the University".

I know there are institutions that do make wide claims to copyright in
academic writing, and most if not all universities do make some claims to
employee IP. But this six-nil result suggests that Paul Harkins was broadly
correct in writing "Academics can happily use CC licenses for their work ".

Is there an AUT position on this?

Jonathan Mitchell QC

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