Alamo Colleges extends copyright to student works

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SACSCOC addresses copyright need for accreditation.

By Cynthia M. Herrera

Procedure C. 1.8.1 states that student work created in class for course requirements is owned by the student; however, the district has a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license over students’ work.

On Sept. 22, Procedure C.1.8.1, Intellectual Property, was amended to expand from employees’ work to include student work.

This means district has the right to display or perform student work in exhibition or performances listed in the course syllabus.

The district may quote excerpts from it for district publicity purposes.

The district owns all rights to student work attached to district property or unclaimed by students and removed within six months after the course the work was created in or after an exhibition on district property.

Eddie Cruz, district ethics and compliance officer, said changes were made without notifying the board because it is a procedure not a policy.

“Policies go to the board, procedure is basically how we’re going to implement the policy, and usually it doesn’t go to the board … the board doesn’t want to see it,” Cruz said. “The whole idea is it goes to the administrators. Those who are responsible for it go over it … the board doesn’t want to see how we do business as long as we follow policy.”

General counsel Ross Laughead said the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is behind the change.

“SACACCs pointed out that under their standards, you’re supposed to have clear policies about intellectual property, including that related to students,” he said. “That practice hadn’t really been an issue, but you know we need to meet the accreditation requirements so basically put in something about students.”

It was changed to add students and acknowledge their rights, Laughead said. Under U.S. copyright law, anything created, written, drawn, photographed etc. is copyrighted automatically.

Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, said the procedure is meant to protect students’ rights to their work done in class.

“That procedure has been in place for a long time, so one of the things that we need to do is show how students can create things and it really belongs to you, the student. So the piece that we added in there is to cover that,” Fabianke said.

She said students can do what they like with work they create.

The college gains no profit from students’ work if sold.

Employees who create work during work hours on campus equipment must negotiate with the institution about rights to sell their work.

Fabianke said college presidents are reviewing procedure for their input.


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