Copyright Ownership

Board of Trustees Policy: 5.11

Date: June 2006

Supersedes: n/a


Montgomery County Community College (the “College”) desires to contribute to the vast body of public knowledge through the research and scholarship of its employees. Everyone associated with the College is encouraged to engage in the free exchange and expression of ideas, to explore new frontiers of scholarship and to expand the boundaries of knowledge. This Copyright Policy of the College is intended to promote these goals.

For purposes of this Copyright Policy, “College Employees” will include (a) all faculty and staff, whether full time or part time, and (b) students, and student workers , whether compensated or not. The term “Author”, as used in this Copyright Policy, shall refer to the individual creator of a work.


Works Protected by Copyright Law

United States copyright law protects original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyrighted material includes, but is not limited to, books, articles, lecture notes, music, movies, computer software, artwork and other literary works. Copyright law does not protect ideas, facts, processes, methods of operation, concepts or principles, although it does protect the original expression of particular ideas, facts and concepts.

Copyright law affords the copyright owner the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following five things: (a) reproduce the copyrighted work; (b) make derivative works based upon the original copyrighted work; (c) distribute copies of the copyrighted work; (d) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic and choreographed works and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly; and (e) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic and choreographed works and pictorial, graphic and sculptural works, to display the copyrighted work publicly (collectively, the “Exclusive Rights”).

All employees are required to comply with the various laws that pertain to copyright use, creation and ownership. To assist, copyright guidelines for employees are located in the Montgomery County Community College Copyright Guidelines Handbook, which is available to all employees, and located in the sections below. Questions about copyright matters should be directed to the Director of Library Services, who in turn may consult the attorney for the College. Training will be made available regularly to employees and led by the Director of Library Services and coordinated through the Center for Teaching and Learning either at the discretion of the administration or at the request of the employee(s).

Coexistence With the Patent Policy

This Copyright Policy deals only with the use and ownership of copyrightable materials. Methods, products, processes and other inventions that are potentially patentable and that are conceived or developed by College Employees and others in the course of their teaching or research are covered by the College’s Invention and Patent Policy (the “Patent Policy”). To the extent that any provision of this Copyright Policy conflicts with any provision of the Patent Policy, the terms of the Patent Policy shall control. To the extent that some materials created at the College are both patentable and copyrightable, the terms of the Patent Policy shall govern the intellectual property rights in such works.

Ownership of Copyrightable Material
  1. Ownership by College Employees. Generally, in the non-academic arena, any copyrightable works that are created by an employee in the furtherance of his or her employment are owned, as a matter of law, by his or her employer. In the academic arena, however, it is customary for colleges, universities and other educational institutions to relinquish any claims that they may have in and to the works created by their employees. Under this Copyright Policy, except in those circumstances described in Article IV, Paragraphs B and C hereof, the College hereby relinquishes all claims of ownership to the copyright in and to any works created by College Employees, and hereby assigns, transfers and conveys any copyright in and to those works that the College may own to their respective Authors.
  2. Ownership by the College. Where the College commissions a copyrightable work to be created by a College Employee, and the College and the College Employee producing the work agree in writing prior to that the copyright to such work is to be owned by the College and/or that the copyright to such work is assigned and transferred to the College, the College will own the copyright in and to such work.
  3. Ownership by Third Parties. Where the copyrightable work results from a grant or other financing provided by or through the United States or any state or local government, the ownership of such works will be governed by the terms of the applicable grant or contract under which the financing was provided. If there is no such document, or if such document does not address the issue of ownership, then the ownership of the copyrightable work shall be determined in accordance with the terms of this Copyright Policy.
Control Over Copyrightable Works
  1. Where the College Relinquishes Copyright Ownership. In cases where the College relinquishes copyright ownership of a work in favor of the Author, as described in Article IV, Paragraph A of this Copyright Policy, the Author shall have all rights thereto including the Exclusive Rights associated with the copyright ownership in such work and the right to commercialize the copyrighted work.
  2. Where the College Retains Copyright Ownership. In cases where the College retains copyright ownership of a work, as described in Article IV, Paragraph B of this Copyright Policy, the College shall be entitled to exercise any and all of the Exclusive Rights associated with the ownership of such copyrighted work, including the right to commercialize the copyrighted work. Should the College receive any royalties or other payments on account of its commercialization of the copyrighted work, it shall distribute such royalties in accordance with the royalty payment schedule set forth in the Patent Policy, unless the College and the Author agree to a different arrangement in the writing between the College and the Author.
  3. This Copyright Policy is not intended to diminish with the long-standing tradition at the College for College Employees to share and disseminate their works, ideas and scholarship with and among their colleagues. This sharing of knowledge is understood by all College Employees to be an integral part of the College’s mission and should continue to be encouraged.
  4. Disputes. If a dispute should arise with respect to the ownership of the copyright in a work between the College and any College Employee, such dispute shall be presented to and resolved by the Committee in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Patent Policy. The Committee shall consist of the following individuals.
  • Vice President of Information Technology
  • Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost
  • Vice President for Administration and Finance
  • One Faculty member from each Division