February 19, 2001
By Michael Terrazas firstname.lastname@example.org
Emory is in the process of revising its policy on intellectual property rights. Formal discussion has been under way for nearly a year and is due to intensify over the next few months, as the administration unveils a new draft of the policy in hopes of having something finalized by semesters end.
There is [an existing policy] that was adopted before current technologies
had been extensively incorporated into the academic world and before the
push for the academy to exploit the intellectual property it develops,
said Harriet King, senior vice provost for academic affairs. King said
the effort to update the policy began a few years ago when then-Vice President
for Research Dennis Liotta recognized a need to modernize the Universitys
technology transfer policy.
Last April, the provosts office released the current policy draft
and invited faculty to respond. King said a faculty meeting was held in
late October 2000 to discuss the policy, and the issue also was brought
up in Januarys Faculty Council meeting. Based on the comments from
faculty through these various channels of communication, King said the
administration will have a revised draft available within a month.
This new draft will be posted on the provosts office website, where
the current draft is available at www.emory.edu/PROVOST/policy_bylaws/draft_cover.htm.
One clause of the current draft that raised some faculty eyebrows was
a paragraph stating that the University owns all intellectual property
made or created by Emory Personnel [sic] if the Intellectual Property
either (a) is related to the Emory Personnels assigned work (including
clinical duties), course of studies, field of research or scholarly expertise,
or (b) was made with the use of Emory Support, and that a faculty
member wishing to own or transfer these rights would have to obtain a
release from the University.
At the Faculty Council meeting, some members wondered aloud what sort
of academic publication would fall outside such an umbrella. But King
emphasized that the new policy will not lay claim to any traditional scholarly
work that had historically has been owned solely by individual faculty
members; if faculty have traditionally owned the rights, King said, they
will continue to do so in the future, with no need to file for a release.
When you read the policy, I would see why you come to that conclusion
[that the new policy infringes on traditional faculty rights], King
said. But the work-for-hire doctrine, which would be the basis of
the [Universitys] claim, has within it an exception for scholarly
works. In the next draft, we have made that very clear that Emory is not
claiming traditional scholarly works.
Instead, what might fall under the new policy are multimedia publications.
For example, David Kleinbaum, a professor of epidemiology in the School
of Public Health, is working on an electronic textbook on epidemiology.
Though he is using no extra University supportin the
form of technical expertise from the Information Technology Division,
for exampleit still took Kleinbaum many months and $8,000 of his
own money in legal fees to negotiate for Emory to relinquish ownership
and royalty rights to the project.
I thought this would be a seamless process, but it really took
a very long time, Kleinbaum said. What about other people?
What are they going to have to go through?
King said such instances are less about the University looking to make
money off the backs of its faculty than trying to grapple with entirely
new phenomena within the world of academic publishing. Finding a policy
equitable to all parties will be difficultbut hopefully not impossiblework,
If its any consolation to the Emory community, Vice President for
Research Administration Frank Stout said many, if not most major universities
and research institutions are either dealing or recently have dealt with
the exact same issues.
Ultimately, what will happen is we are not going to address everythingthere is going to be some group within the faculty that weve missed but not intentionally, Stout said. The faculty will appropriately make their concerns very well known, and we will take a look at the law, take a look at precedent, and well look at what peer institutions are doing.