OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL
Administration Building, Room 103
Tucson, Arizona 85721
Telephone 621-3175 ● Fax 621-9001
Date: March 7, 2012
From: B. Glenn George
Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel
Re: Faculty Ownership Rights in Lecture Notes and Course Materials
I am writing in response to concerns expressed about the practice of students selling notes of classroom lectures (or other course materials) to other students or to third parties for resale to other students. Please feel free to distribute this information to your faculty as you deem appropriate.
Under the Section D(6)(a) of the University’s Intellectual Property Policy (available at http://www.ott.arizona.edu/uploads/ip_policy.pdf), “course notes” and other original course material created by faculty are considered intellectual property owned by the faculty member. Consequently, if a student sells this material without the faculty member’s permission, the student has improperly infringed on that faculty member’s property rights. Outlined below is a three-step process for determining and establishing a faculty member’s copyright interest in lectures and course materials, notifying students of that interest, and taking remedial action against infringers.
Step One – Fix Your Work Product in a Tangible Medium
In order to obtain copyright protection for your lectures and course materials, your work must be: 1) original, and 2) reduced to a tangible medium. A work is “original” if it displays a certain degree of creativity. Therefore, a mere compilation of materials already in the public domain is not original unless arranged or analyzed in a manner that demonstrates creativity. A work can be reduced to “tangible medium” by way of writing or through other electronic or audio-visual means. Thus, if you prepare a written outline of original work from which you deliver a lecture or audio record your lecture, the lecture itself may be eligible for copyright protection even if not read verbatim from the outline. You can further protect your copyright interest by printing the word “copyright “on your materials or displaying the symbol © in a prominent place, together with your name and the year this work was first published or distributed. (Note, however, that you have a copyright interest in these original works even without using the term “copyright” or the copyright symbol. Using these labels simply provides better notice to potential infringers of your rights.)
Step Two – Notify Students of Your Copyright
You should consider including a statement in your course syllabus or online course policies that: 1) you hold the copyright in your lectures and course materials, 2) your copyright includes student notes or summaries that substantially reflect your lectures or materials, 3) these materials are made available only for personal use by students, and 4) students may not distribute or reproduce the materials for commercial purposes without your express written consent. (This would not prevent students from sharing notes on an individual basis for personal use, and you may want to include a statement to that effect.) Finally, you can advise students that violation of your copyright may result in course sanctions and violate the Code of Academic Integrity.
Step Three – Notifying and Taking Action Against Infringers
Because you own the copyright in your original lectures and course materials once reduced to a tangible medium (see generally Arizona Board of Regents Policy 6-908), it is up to you to notify infringers of your ownership rights and take remedial measures. The University cannot do so on your behalf. Many of the established commercial note-taking services post instructions on their websites so that you can notify them of copyright violations and demand that they “take down” offending materials (see, for example, http://www.notehall.com/index/termsandconditions). For your convenience, I have attached a sample “cease and desist” letter that you may send to a person or entity who may be infringing on your copyrighted materials.
Hopefully, this memo addresses most of your questions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me (email@example.com / 621-5150) or Josh Estavillo (firstname.lastname@example.org / 626-7001) if we can be of any further assistance.
cc Vice Provost Gail Burd
SAMPLE NOTIFCATION LETTER:
It has recently come to my attention that [you/your company] is selling and/or distributing publicly course materials for which I own the exclusive copyrights. These materials include: [describe materials being infringed—e.g. verbatim copies of PowerPoint presentations; copies of my lecture notes, recordings of my lectures, class handouts, student notes that are taken directly from my lecture notes, etc.]. I am both the instructor for the course and the author of the copyrighted materials described above. Therefore, I demand that you immediately cease and desist from selling, distributing, and/or reproducing these materials.
As sole owner of the copyright in the works/materials detailed above, I hold the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, publish, modify, and/or license these materials. I have not authorized [you/your company] to reproduce, distribute, publish, or sell any of my materials, in whole or in part, and you have no lawful right to do so.
Therefore, I demand that you immediately: [draft applicable demands, see below for examples]
1. Remove all notes for [name course for which materials are being posted/sold] from your list of available course materials.
2. Destroy any and all copies (hardcopy and electronic) of [describe materials].
Please notify me in writing, no less than [insert time period—e.g. 14 days] that you have complied with my requests.
Nothing herein shall be constituted as a waiver of any of my rights or remedies, at law and in equity, all of which I expressly reserve.
Name and Signature