Faculty Senate objects to policy

By Kayla Paine
On February 6, 2012

All students and persons employed by the Arkansas State University System may lose their rights to their own "Intellectual Property" in an updated policy that is being reviewed in the shared governance process.

The policy made its way to the faculty senate meeting on Friday.

"Intellectual Property" is defined in the policy as any material capable of legal protection (copyright, license and patent) arising out of scholarly production. The material can be a multitude of things including invention, works of art, computer software, biological discoveries, etc.

The senate unanimously gave an advisory vote against the policy and passed a resolution that urged for the current policy that was passed in 2005, remain in effect.

The revised policy would make all "intellectual property" no longer the author's property, but rather the property of ASU. It says, "the author has voluntarily transferred the copyright by accepting employment with the University or by entering into a contract for work for hire."

Daniel Marburger, professor of economics, was not happy with the revised policy. He gathered information and presented it in the meeting.

He said that copyright law was designed to protect ideas. Hiring a company to write an instructors' manual for computer software that an individual designed does not mean the company copyrights the software, but that the individual hired that company to do that which is called a work for hire relationship.

Marburger insisted that faculty and students developing "intellectual property" is not a work for hire relationship.

Online classes are a good source of income. Marburger suggests that an underlying reason for this revised policy is specifically for online class production. A complete online class with power points and notes is worth a pretty penny.

"I'm not sure if making money from online classes is the university's intention, but the information I have suggests that it may very well be," he said.

The senate questioned if the policy was legal in nature, that ASU has the power to make revenue from their ideas without having any input.

The senate talked about the poor media coverage ASU will receive if the revised policy were to be adopted. Predictions of messy litigation were mentioned.

Throughout the years, ASU has been pushing to have more research come from its faculty and students.

"I think this is discouraging research rather than encouraging it," said John Hall, professor of psychology and counseling.

Some of the faculty were okay with the current policy, but still felt as though the current policy could use some clarification. They pointed out confusing language and claimed it to be a mess.

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