Copyright Policy Regarding Scholarly, Academic, and Artistic Works”
Senate Policy 114.1
I. Background and Rationale
Michigan Technological University’s Intellectual Property Policies currently have
no clear statement
clarifying the status of works produced by its faculty and staff that fall under the scope of copyright,
including scholarly, academic, and/or artistic works. This proposed policy ills the existing gap in
Board of Control Policy. This policy is copied nearly verbatim from the University of Michigan’s
Standard Practice Guide, edited as appropriate for Michigan Technological University.
According to The Ofice of the Vice President for Research, Innovation, and Industry
website, Michigan Technological University’s Operating Procedures 11.1 excludes “Books, articles,
manuscripts, and works of art (except to the extent that they contain proprietary information
related to inventions or computer software) are not included in these policies.” This passage
recognizes the university’s traditional support of the “teacher exception” to copyright law.
Michigan Tech’s current Operating Procedures are based upon Board of Trustees Policy,
cited in the
VP for Research website as Chapter 18. This chapter no longer exists, but is currently Chapter 14:
“Patents and Proprietary Rights.” The oficial BOT policy in Chapter 14 makes no reference to books,
articles, works of art, curricular material, lecture notes, exhibitions, compositions, or other related
work. Excluding a category of intellectual property in operating procedures does not establish
policy-level rules that clarify the legal status of those materials. This policy therefore seeks to codify
existing and traditional practices.
In the absence of Board of Trustees Policy, United States 1976 Copyright Act and other
provide clues, subject to interpretation, of how IP practices should operate at Michigan Tech. A
formal and explicit policy is clearly needed, because narrow interpretations of current copyright
law could imply that all of the following routine (albeit hypothetical) situations or practices
undertaken by faculty and staff have potentially been in violation of federal copyright law:
a. Scholars assigning copyright on academic publications over to journal or book publishers.
b. Artists offering artworks for sale at campus events (like the Great Lakes Showcase) or
private events (like in the Copper County Community Arts Center or other
c. Staff or Faculty that mentor or advise community organizations such as youth hockey teams
designing logos or creating playbooks for those teams, when that individual reports that
community service in their annual review
d. Graduate student teaching assistants who develop lecture notes during their employ at
Michigan Tech, then use those notes, exercises, presentation slides, or digital learning tools
at another university or job.
e. Any MTU employee putting educational resources into the public domain under Creative
II. Policy (as modified by Board of Trustees 12-19-2014)
A. Transfer of Scholarly Works: The University hereby transfers its rights to copyrighted Scholarly
Works now in existence or hereafter created to the Faculty or employee who authored those works
—with the following conditions and exceptions.
1. Conditions.—The University prohibits the incorporation of Michigan Tech’s name,
and other symbols in the later use of Scholarly Works without its written consent and
reserves the nonexclusive right and license to without charge:
a. use Scholarly Works for educational or administrative purposes consistent with
its educational mission and academic norms; and
b. preserve, archive, and host Scholarly Works in its institutional repositories, such
as the Digital Commons at Michigan Technological University, University Archives
and Copper Country Historical Collections, or the campus computing network,
where Faculty can control the timing and scope of access to their copyrighted
2. Exceptions—The University does not, under this policy, transfer its copyright in
a. that are authored as required Deliverables under a sponsored activity agreement;
b. when that would put the University in violation of or conflict with an applicable
contract or law;
c. that are specifically commissioned by the University or are created as part of an
administrative assignment to, for, or on behalf of the University;
d. that are software under Board of Trustees Policy 14.1; or
e. that are or have been transferred to the University in writing (other than the Board
of Trustees Policy 14.1 acknowledgement which Faculty sign as condition of
f. if Faculty created instructional material is intended to be sold to third party
providers of on-line or other courses during or after Faculty’s time of
employment at Michigan Tech. This section f is not intended to prohibit use by the
creator of such Scholarly Works in the normal course of the creator’s current or
future employment as an educator
B. Students: Students hold the copyright in works they author, unless they have authored
Employees or transferred their copyright in writing to the University or other entity.
C. Independent Contractors: It is the general practice of the University to have Independent
Contractors transfer to the University, in writing, the copyright in works they create for, or on behalf of the University.
D. Collaborative and Joint Works: When people collaborate to author a copyrighted
work, it often
results in a “joint work” in which all the rights holders jointly hold nonexclusive rights to use the
work. Employees and students who collaborate with each other or with non-University third parties (e.g., volunteers, visitors, and collaborators) are encouraged to describe or determine, in
writing, the disposition of copyright prior to authoring the work.
E. University-Held Works:
1. Disposition: Ordinarily, the University units most closely associated with the
specific University-held works may authorize uses of those works (e.g., they may authorize a
third-party to copy, adapt, or distribute a University-held work). The disposition of the
following University-held works, however, shall be managed by the responsible unit of the
Ofice of the Vice President for Research: software intended to be revenue-generating;
software funded under a sponsored activity agreement; and any Deliverables funded under
a sponsored activity agreement.
2. Notice and Registration: University-held works that are registered with the U.S. Copyright
Ofice or that include a copyright notice should identify the “Michigan Technological
University” as the copyright holder.
3. Freedom to Contract: The University is free to contract with Employees, students, or others
to license uses of or to transfer or acquire the copyright in works.
F. Policy Interpretation and Dispute Resolution: This policy and its implementation
interpretation and review. University constituents should make every attempt to resolve disputes
informally with the assistance of one or more of the following: the Ofice of the Ombudsman, Ofice
of the Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Vice President for Research, Chief
Information Oficer, Director of the Ofice of Innovation and Industry Engagement, or other oficial.
If informal procedures and consultation do not provide resolution of a dispute or policy issue,
University constituents may file a request for formal dispute resolution or policy interpretation
with the Office of the Provost.
Deliverables means copyrighted works that must be authored and delivered in order to
comply with the obligations of a sponsored activity agreement.
Employees means any people employed by Michigan Technological University in any
capacity, whether they are Faculty, staff, administration, or students and whether they are
employed full-time, part-time, or in a temporary capacity.
Faculty means full-time and part-time tenured, tenure-track, research, lecturer, clinical,
adjunct Faculty, as well as librarians, archivists, and curators.
Independent Contractors means non-Employees retained by the University to provide
goods or services.
Scholarly, Works means Scholarly, Academic and Artistic works authored by Faculty
within the scope of their employment as part of or in connection with their teaching, research, or scholarship. Common examples of Scholarly Works include: lecture notes, case
examples, course materials, textbooks, works of non-fiction, novels, lyrics, musical
compositions/arrangements and recordings, journal articles, scholarly papers, poems,
architectural drawings, software (see exception 2.d), visual works of art, sculpture, and other
artistic creations, among others, regardless of the medium in which those works are fixed or
This policy does not grant Faculty the right to use the name of Michigan Tech or any images
representing Michigan Tech in the use of any Scholarly Works which are outside of their duties as
Faculty of Michigan Tech or are not conducted on behalf of Michigan Tech.
Introduced to Senate: 05 March 2014
Wordsmith changes in red approved by Senate: 26 March 2014
Friendly amendment highlighted in blue approved by Senate: 26 March 2014
Vote on proposal postponed for two weeks
Approved by Senate: 09 April 2014
Approved by Administration with proposed amendments (in purple): 21 June 2014
Approved by BOT (with modifications): 19 December 2014