Sunday 19 January 2014

Butterflies in formation? A spot of UK university copyright management ...

"Make the butterflies fly in formation? Management of copyright created by academics in UK universities" is an article by Dr Andreas Rahmatian (Senior Lecturer, School of Law, University of Glasgow) which has had the bittersweet experience of being published in a highly reputable journal (Legal Studies) but, nonetheless, not a journal that is daily scoured by intellectual property enthusiasts in their quest for a deeper understanding of copyright in practice. The 1709 Blog is therefore delighted to direct the attention of readers toward it.  According to the abstract:
"Universities have increasingly become aware of the fact that the intellectual property (IP) rights that attach to the work of their academics could become significant and valuable assets to the university as an institution and economic organisation. The study involved analysis of the copyright and intellectual property policies of universities in the UK and the interviewing of specialised representatives of universities in relation to the policies of their respective institutions. The principal question of the study was the way in which university policies deal with the issue of ownership of copyright generated by academic staff, which proved to be a sensitive area. 
University policies presume that, by default, they own all work that academics create as their employees. There seems to be insufficient appreciation of the differentiated legal interpretation of the employees’ copyright rule. At least in relation to core academic work (scholarly books and journal articles in particular), initial copyright ownership by the university, by virtue of the statutory employee copyright rule, is highly doubtful. As a result of the universities’ principal position with regard to ownership, university IP policies have resorted to complicated and artificial assignment and licencing provisions, with questionable enforceability".
This article is available on early view: Legal Studies, 2014, DOI: 10.1111/lest.12040

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