Copyright Ownership

Recommended By
Academic Senate
Ruben Armiñana, President
Issue Date
Monday, April 26, 2004
Current Issue Date
Monday, April 26, 2004
Effective Date
Monday, April 26, 2004
Contact Office
Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP)
Policy number
  1. Preamble 
    “The tradition of ownership of copyright at most American universities is that ownership is presumed to vest initially with the creator of original works, typically a faculty member. …An academic environment that best advances knowledge will view copyright ownership as a set of opportunities that may be shared within the University community rather than as an ‘all-or-nothing’ property concept. We affirm the right of creative faculty members and students to retain primary control over their new works and inventions. Similarly, we also affirm that situations exist at the university where university staff have the right to retain primary control over their new works and inventions.” (Academic Senate of the California State University, “Intellectual Property, Fair Use, and the Unbundling of Ownership Rights,” March 2003, p. 64.)
  2. Purpose and Scope 
    The purpose of this statement is to set forth campus policy regarding copyright ownership for works produced at, by, or through Sonoma State University. This policy applies to Sonoma State University faculty, staff, students, and other persons or entities using designed University facilities or acting under contract with Sonoma State University for commissioned works.
  3. Explanation of Terms
    1. Copyright- Copyright is the intangible property right granted by Federal statute for “original works of authorship” which have been fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or devise. These works include, but are not limited to, literary works such as books, journal articles, poems, manuals, memoranda, tests, computer programs, instructional materials, databases, and bibliographies; musical works, dramatic works, pictorial and graphic works such as photographs, diagrams, and sketches; motion pictures, videotapes, and sound recordings. As provided by law, copyright protection does not extend to ideas, facts, U.S. government works, works in the public domain, works for which the copyright has expired, or live performances that are not fixed in a tangible medium.
    2. Scholarly and Instructional Works- Scholarly and instructional works embody substantive educational, creative, and scholarly work, thought, or research.
    3. Administrative Works- Administrative works are those generally created by University employees in the regular course of their employment and relate to the administration of the educational mission of the University and are generally not the result of scholarly work or research. For example, an administrative work may be a spreadsheet or software tool developed and improved over time by multiple administrators, faculty, staff, or students where authorship is not appropriately attributed to a single or defined group of authors. However, an administrative work may have one originator, creator, or author.
    4. Institutional Works- Institutional works are works supported by a specific allocation of University funds or are created at the direction of the University for a specific University purpose.
    5. Commissioned Works- Commissioned works are works produced for University purposes by individuals not employed at the University or by University employees outside their regular job duties.
    6. Sponsored Works- Sponsored works are works first produced by or through the University in the performance of a written agreement between the University and a sponsor or outside funding source.
    7. Works for Hire- As defined in the U.S. Copyright Act, a work for hire is “a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment.”
    8. Fair Use Doctrine- As embodied in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act, the fair use doctrine exempts limited uses of materials from copyright infringement liabilities. Under the statute the right of fair use is specifically applicable to teaching, research and scholarship, and that its scope depends on four factors: 1) the purpose and character of the use; 2) the nature of the copyrighted work; 3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used; and 4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The specific facts of each use or proposed use should be analyzed in light of these four factors.
  4. General Policy Statement 
    It is the general policy of the University that all rights in copyright shall remain with the creator except where the work is a work-for-hire under copyright law, is commissioned by the University, results from extraordinary use of University resources or facilities or where copyright is determined by contract.
  5. Scholarly and Instructional Works 
    All rights in copyright of scholarly and instructional works shall belong to the creator, originator or author whether that person is professor, librarian, staff member, or associated with the University in any other capacity and shall not be considered works for hire, unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. Therefore, students not employed by the University retain copyright for term papers, theses, and other projects that students complete in their own name as part of course assignments or degree programs.
  6. Administrative and Institutional Works as Work-For-Hire 
    Administrative and institutional works whether created by faculty, staff, or students are generally works for hire and the University is therefore the owner of all rights in copyright unless a written agreement provides otherwise.
  7. Commissioned Works 
    Copyright ownership of commissioned works shall reside with the University unless a written agreement provides otherwise. In commissioning work, where applicable the University should seek a written agreement setting forth copyright ownership and rights of use.
  8. Sponsored Works 
    Copyright ownership of sponsored works shall be with the University unless the sponsored agreement or grant contract provides otherwise. Academic or scholarly works derived from sponsored work, including journal articles, lectures, books, videos, or other copyrightable works created through independent effort even though based on the findings of the sponsored project or derived from sponsored work shall reside with the creator, originator or author.
  9. Assignment and Licensing of Copyrights 
    The University may assign or license its copyrights to others. The University shall encourage and facilitate the use of assignments and licensing agreements among interested parties to help avoid controversy and foster creative endeavor. For example, where the University owns the copyright, the University may wish to license to the professor, staff member, or student who created it the right to use the copyrighted expression in other contexts, to make reproductions of the work to use in teaching, scholarship, or research, to modify or update the work, or to take the work with them for use with a new employer. Similarly, the creator with copyright ownership shall cooperate with the University and may license to the University various rights of use, for example, a limited, nonexclusive right of colleagues and students to make reproductions of the work to use in teaching, scholarship, or research, or to reproduce the work for uses directly related to advancing the mission of the University.
    The University and its faculty and staff shall avoid joint ownership of copyrights as joint owners have legal obligations to one another potentially over many years. Whenever possible joint copyright owners should seek written agreements specifying their interests in, and the terms of, copyright management.
  10. Use of Copyrighted Works Owned by Others 
    The University may make use of copyrighted works owned by others under the fair use doctrine. What constitutes fair use of copyrighted material owned by another is a legal determination. Administrators, faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to review the educational materials on fair use provided by the California State University Chancellor’s Office, and to seek the advice of the Office of the General Counsel to determine if a proposed use potentially falls outside the limits of fair use or other exemptions under copyright law.
  11. Administration of Copyright Policy
    It is the owner’s responsibility to enforce the copyright and any assigned or licensed rights of use. The President of the University or his/her designee may direct the issuance of guidelines, and implementing procedures consistent with this Policy as necessary. 
    The President of the University or his/her designee may direct the register of copyrights, the acceptance of copyrights from third parties, the release of copyrights to third parties, and the sale, assignment or granting of licenses for any rights related to copyrights in the name of the University. 
    Nothing in this policy is intended to interfere with the University’s ability to meet its obligations for deliverables under any contract, grant, or other arrangement with third parties, including sponsored programs, research agreements or license agreements. Nothing in this policy is intended to prevent the University from assigning or licensing any of the rights of copyright ownership at any time where it is in the best interests of the University or the individuals of the University community.

Updated April 26, 2004 by