Who owns the online course?

If course development has been paid for by the University, the University owns the course.  If the faculty member has developed it independently, it is owned by the individual faculty member, except as noted below.  When a faculty member’s course is used by another faculty member, the faculty member may request to be paid a royalty for the use of the course for a limited time, as long as the faculty member keeps the course updated.  Information about this process is available on the University’s academic affairs website, in the section called “online initiatives.” 

The University’s Intellectual Property policy is included as Appendix A in the FFA contract and explains the ownership provisions.  It can be found at this location:

www.ferris.edu/htmls/administration/president/generalcounsel/documents/ffacontract2006-2010.pdf

Page 73, item 3 reads:   “If a work is created by a bargaining unit member within the scope of his or her employment on the employer’s time or using the employer’s resources, Copyright Law specifies that the employer owns the copyright in the work, absent an agreement to the contrary.  This is known as the ‘work for hire’ doctrine.  4.  There has historically been an ‘academic exception’ to the ‘work for hire’ doctrine.  The academic tradition has been that faculty own the copyright on course materials and books that they produce.  The University’s implementation of this exception is set forth under the ownership rights section of this Agreement. 

Page 74, Section F reads:  “Intellectual Property developed on the employee’s own initiative, outside his/her scope of University responsibilities, and without use of substantial University resources (as defined in this Agreement) is owned by the creator.  If the Intellectual Property bears a reasonable relationship to his/her employment responsibilities, then it is the employee’s obligation to show that the Intellectual Property was developed according to these criteria.  

Faculty shall have personal ownership of books, journal articles, other written reports of scholarly activity, creative works of fiction, textbooks, tests, course-related materials, slides, transparencies, bibliographies, music, and art work and any other material that would fall within the “academic exception” to the ‘work for hire doctrine’ and which were created without substantial University support. 

Section d:  Intellectual Property, which is not described elsewhere in this Agreement and is developed with substantial University support, will be owned by the University.” 

Cutting through the legalese, the University owns all of its courses and has the right to review the content of them.  However, course materials used exclusively by the faculty member are considered to be owned by the faculty member, according to the “academic exception.”  If substantial university resources have been used in the development, or if the faculty member has been paid or given re-assigned time for development, the University owns the course materials.