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Re: Franz Flavors & software copyright
- To: wilensky%ucbdali@Berkeley
- Subject: Re: Franz Flavors & software copyright
- From: John R Ellis <Ellis@YALE.ARPA>
- Date: Tue, 28 Feb 84 00:57:35 GMT
- Cc: andy@AIDS-UNIX.ARPA, franz-friends%ucbdali@Berkeley
- In-reply-to: wilensky%ucbdali@UCB-VAX.ARPA, Wed, 22 Feb 84 09:57:21 pst
- Original-date: Mon, 27 Feb 84 19:57:35 EST
But I want to stress my main point. This is that the ``author'' holds
the copyright. It may be unclear who the author is, but it is clearly
NOT the university.
The recent changes to copyright law specify that the copyrights of material
created on the job as part of an employee's normal duties belong to the
employer, unless explicitly stated in the employee's contract. That is,
if DEC hires you as a computer science researcher, programs written as
part of your research belong to DEC; but if you write an article on science
fiction in your spare time, that belongs to you. If a university professor
writes a program as part of his research, that sure seems to be a normal
part of his employment.
The law also states that unless otherwise modified by special agreement,
grantees (e.g. universities) will own the copyrights and patents arising
from government-funded research. (A university is always the legal
grantee, not the principal investigator.) There is also something about
how the government retains the right to use such copyrights and patents
for their own purposes.
So it seems perfectly reasonable under the law for a university to claim
ownership of a program written by its employees, including professors.
But what about textbooks, lecture notes, articles, etc. published by
professors? Do universities own the copyrights to such material? If
these things were written as a normal part of their employment, then again,
it sure seems that the universities could claim ownership.
Yale's position on copyright is interesting: As a matter of tradition,
they automatically grant ownership of non-software material to the author.
They retain software copyrights, veiwing software more as inventions than
as literary works. They believe, however, they have the right to claim
ownership over all copyrights if they choose to excercise that right.
(One could imagine the faculty uproar if they tried that; presumably their
contracts would soon be modified to explicitly grant them ownership.)
What about graduate students? Are they employees performing work for
hire? It's not at all clear. In most cases the IRS doesn't consider
fellowships as salary -- no grad student at Yale pays income tax on his
fellowship, whether it is related to a specific grant or comes from general
University funds. Grad students aren't expected to perform any duties
like a regular employee. Grad students generally don't sign a contract
of employment. In what sense is a "student" an employee?
CMU took Unilogic to court over the copyright to Scribe, which was written
by Brian Ried while a grad student. I have heard that the suit was settled
out of court; there was an UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMOR that Michael Shamos,
president of Unilogic, said afterwards "CMU didn't have a leg to stand