Effective February 1, 2021, UC President Michael Drake issued a revised UC Copyright Ownership Policy. This policy governs who owns copyright in scholarly and aesthetic works created by UC faculty, staff, and students, and it had last been updated in 1992. The revisions are the result of a process started in 2013 to address inadequacies of the previous policy and to align the policy with the current needs of academic authorship and other creative activity across the UC system. The new policy issuance follows a full systemwide review of the draft changes in 2019.
As described in Drake’s issuance letter, key changes to the existing Presidential Policy on Copyright Ownership are to:
- Expand eligibility to own copyrights. The definition of “Academic Authors” in the revised policy is simplified and expands the pool of those eligible to own copyright. Among other things, it eliminates references to Academic Personnel Manual (APM) titles.
- Expand and clarify the pool of works eligible for copyright ownership. The policy includes a definition of “Scholarly & Aesthetic Works” – a definition that did not exist in the 1992 policy. It also clarifies that software is a work for which eligible employees may own the copyright.
- Create a definition for “Significant University Resources” as a limitation on the University’s ownership. The current policy has a broad definition of “University Resources,” which directs, in some instances, that the University assert copyright ownership when the University’s resources contributed to the development of the copyright work. The revised policy now includes a key limitation such that the level of University resources must be “significant” and beyond the support provided to similarly- situated authors.
- Clarify copyright ownership for Graduate Students. The revised policy provides greater clarity regarding copyright ownership by graduate students of their theses, dissertations, and other copyrightable works.
- Clarify the application of this policy for Represented (Union) Employees. The revised policy specifically carves out any provision that is inconsistent with a union employee’s collective bargaining agreement regarding copyright ownership.
The full text of the policy is available on the Presidential Policies page (direct link to the PDF) and the UC Copyright site, along with a set of Frequently Asked Questions.
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