The University’s treatment of copyright ownership has never been articulated in any separate policy.  To be sure, ownership of copyrightable works involving new information technologies was addressed in the faculty report, New Information Technologies and Intellectual Property at the University (the “Report"). The Report applies the approach of the University’s patent policy, embodied in Statute 18 of the University Statutes.  Statute 18 provides that the University is the owner of patentable works made at the University, or with the substantial aid of the University’s facilities or funds administered by it. Concerning copyrightable works involving new information technologies, the Report states the following basic principles:
  1. that “the University owns the intellectual property the faculty create at the University or with substantial aid of its facilities or its financial support,”

  2. that the University should not assert its ownership but allows “individual faculty [to] enjoy the revenue generated until it is substantial,”

  3. where the University asserts ownership, that “individual faculty members are entitled to share in the revenues from the intellectual property they have a hand in creating,” and

  4. that “divisions of revenue should follow those already in place for patents and discoveries.”  

The Report did not alter the University’s longstanding policy that faculty retain ownership of articles, books, and similar scholarly works that they produce at the University.  This Copyright Policy does not supplant the Report, but instead formalizes basic principles into an official policy, and provides additional guidance regarding the application of those principles in practice.


The Copyright Act protects most works of original authorship from the moment they are fixed in a tangible medium of expression.   There is no filing or registration requirement for an original work created in the United States to be protected by U.S. copyright law.  The Copyright Act also provides that the owner of the copyright in a work created by a person in the course of his or her employment belongs to the employer, not to the individual creator, as a “work made for hire.”  Whether or not any particular faculty work would constitute “work made for hire” under the Copyright Act, the University has long sought to encourage creativity and innovation by recognizing that academic appointees, including faculty as well as postdoctoral researchers (collectively, “Academic Appointees”), enjoy ownership of copyrightable works they create at the University (“Covered Works”).   Subject to the limitations described in paragraph 3 below, the University upon request will provide written confirmation of an Academic Appointee’s ownership of a specific Covered Work.


The University will own the copyright or have specified rights in Covered Works in the following circumstances:
  1. Assigned Tasks: The University will own the copyright if the Covered Work is created by an Academic Appointee as part of an assigned task and the assignment expressly states that the University will own the copyright.

  2. Rights of Sponsors: If the Covered Work is developed by an Academic Appointee in the course of a sponsored award or agreement, ownership of and rights in the Covered Work will be determined in accordance with the terms of that award or agreement.

  3. Patentable Works: Some copyrightable works are owned by the University under the University’s Patent Policy (Statute 18 of the University Statutes), such as certain computer software.  Where the Covered Work is owned by the University under the Patent Policy, the University’s Patent Policy will apply to it and take precedence over this Copyright Policy (that is, if the University would own the Covered Work under the Patent Policy, the University will own the copyright in the Covered Work regardless of this Copyright Policy).

  4. Substantial Use of University Resources: If the Covered Work is created with substantial use of University resources, facilities or equipment, the University may elect to assert its ownership of the copyright.   The term “substantial” does not include ordinary use of personal computers, libraries, offices, departmental office equipment, or University-paid research assistants.  The Provost will determine when the creation of a Covered Work involved substantial use of University resources, facilities or equipment.  The University will generally decline to assert ownership of Covered Works under this paragraph but may assert its rights when the revenue generated from the Covered Work becomes substantial.

  5. Other Cases: The University may elect to assert nonexclusive rights in copyright in other cases in which the Provost determines, in consultation with the University Faculty, that asserting such rights will serve important University and/or public interests, such as broad dissemination of scholarship, without unduly inhibiting the goals of encouraging scholarly creativity and innovation.   Any such assertion will be announced by the Provost in advance of its effectiveness.

If an Academic Appointee disagrees with a determination of ownership under this Policy, the dispute shall be resolved by the Committee on Intellectual Property, using procedures similar to those it uses to resolve disputes over ownership of inventions.

Sharing of Revenue

Where the University asserts ownership of a Covered Work, any net revenue which the University receives from the licensing, sale, lease or other use of the Covered Work will ordinarily be shared with the creator(s) of the Covered Work.   Revenue from Covered Works that are addressed in the University’s revenue sharing policy for inventions will be shared in accordance with that policy, as then in effect.  For Covered Works not addressed by the revenue sharing policy, the University will consider the revenue sharing policy then in effect in determining revenue sharing arrangements for Covered Works.

Works Created by Other Employees

Ownership of copyrighted works created by employees other than Academic Appointees, including students while they are employed by the University, shall be governed by the Copyright Act and other applicable law, as well as any applicable University policies.