Faculty Rights Tip of the Week: Who owns my electronic & online course materials?

This weekly CFA Headlines feature offers a brief “Faculty Rights Tip” or short information piece about the faculty contract.

FACULTY RIGHTS TIP:  Who owns my electronic & online course materials?

These days many faculty members create electronic and online content for their courses.  These materials are usually placed on the web in a variety of ways, often in course management systems like BlackboardTM. Occasionally there are misconceptions about who actually owns these materials once they’re placed online.

Article 39 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement assures faculty members retain the rights to materials they create so long as there is no “extraordinary University support” in creating those materials.  “… Such works may include, but shall not necessarily be limited to, lecture notes and materials, course syllabi, instructional text and manuscripts, software, or plans, patterns and works of art or design…” (from Article 39.3)

The online nature of materials does not change the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.   Electronic and online materials do not become the property of the University or any third party vendor who supplies a service to the University.  Providing the course management system, or paying your regular salary does not constitute “extraordinary University support.”  The University or any third party may not take those materials you’ve placed online and arbitrarily give (assign) them to someone else without your permission.

If you have a question about intellectual property rights you can contact your campus faculty rights representative.  You can find your campus CFA Chapter Faculty Rights Representative by clicking here.

If you have questions about a faculty rights tip or would like to contribute a tip, please feel free to write us at cfa@calfac.org with the subject line “Faculty Rights Tip.”