Plagiarism and Intellectual Property

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start2finish:
Over the past 5 years I devoted a considerable amount of time to developing a course which has recently been assigned to a new hire. I have no idea what they will include in the course but I am reasonably certain some of it will be similar to the content I designed for the course. Are my syllabi and course content protected as intellectual property? And wouldn't it be unethical, if not illegal, to use my content with my express permission? I had a similar problem a few years back where another faculty member started using my content in their course and I added a plagiarism clause to my syllabus stating that none of the material could be used without my permission which I think scared him off, but I did not include such a statement in the course that has recently been reassigned. Desperately in need of some guidance. Thanks.

verstrickt:
It really depends on your contract and university policies. In theory, yes, your materials are yours, but if they were made with university resources you might not maintain sole control over them.
I have turned down some opportunities to teach online in my department because I would lose control of my IP.

aandsdean:
Quote from: verstrickt on April 28, 2013, 10:45:22 PM

It really depends on your contract and university policies. In theory, yes, your materials are yours, but if they were made with university resources you might not maintain sole control over them.
I have turned down some opportunities to teach online in my department because I would lose control of my IP.


OP, google the phrase "work made for hire."  Unless there is something very specific in your schhol's IP policy, the materials concerning you belong to the institution, not to you.  Your IP policy probably does not cede ownership to you, btw.

tuxedo_cat:
OP, have you never ever looked at another scholar's syllabus in designing your own?  Were you forbidden to make use of syllabi by professors you TAd for during your grad program?  Are you certain you will never be stuck with a course in a completely new area for which you would really find it helpful to have some guidance from a more experienced faculty member?

I do completely understand your sense of ownership about the course you designed, especially if it's based on something you've studied closely, and since you've put quite a bit of effort and thought into it.  *But you're being silly.  I would advise you to take out the "faculty plagiarism" language from your syllabus which could be interpreted very badly by your colleagues (and I'm going to guess that perhaps you don't have tenure yet?).  Or they will think you're a nut.

Also, sharing course materials with a new hire is beneficial . . . for the students.  And for the new hire.  You will make a new friend!  Which you may need if that other guy in your dept. is describing you as the resident Syllabus Control Freak.

*I have adapted some of this syllabus advice from larryc's previous syllabus advice to other posters -- possibly that exact phrase.  I am altogether certain he won't mind.

yellowtractor:
Quote from: aandsdean on April 28, 2013, 10:55:57 PM

Quote from: verstrickt on April 28, 2013, 10:45:22 PM

It really depends on your contract and university policies. In theory, yes, your materials are yours, but if they were made with university resources you might not maintain sole control over them.
I have turned down some opportunities to teach online in my department because I would lose control of my IP.


OP, google the phrase "work made for hire."  Unless there is something very specific in your schhol's IP policy, the materials concerning you belong to the institution, not to you.  Your IP policy probably does not cede ownership to you, btw.


Aandsdean, I'm sorry, but I'm not sure about this.  I've been in the business of "work made for hire," and usually there is explicit language somewhere detailing this condition (often very interesting, bracing--to an academic--language).  My response would be the exact opposite of yours, i.e. that unless there is something specific in the school's IP policy addressing "work made for hire," then course materials are solely the intellectual property of the professor.

I did once work at a school that had a specific IP clause relating to course materials developed at the school, which the school sporadically tried to enforce when faculty left to go elsewhere.  I don't think this ever resulted in any legal action (although the school in question was more interested in preventing ex-faculty from using materials developed there elsewhere, rather than in keeping the materials in-house for future use).

But really, OP, Tuxedo_Cat is right.  This is almost certainly not a battle you want to fight.  Most of us here have based syllabi either on syllabi we experienced as students (and recall), or else have surfed the web in moments of need and borrowed elements from others' syllabi.  I have kept my own syllabi under wraps a few times, I admit, but those were instances in which the syllabi topics were in essence outlines for books I was working on.  You would probably be doing the new hire a favor if you at least shared a basic outline of what you've been teaching with him or her.

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