Copyright Policy

This policy provides guidance to faculty, administrators and staff on copyright law and its application to the copying of print material for academic use.

Policy Statement

This policy provides guidance to faculty, administrators and staff on copyright law and its application to the copying of print material for academic use. The primary focus of the statement is on the use of "course packs", but it also addresses other uses of copyrighted materials for academic use. The policy statement is divided into three parts: It (1) provides general information about copyright law, (2) sets forth the rules for determining whether permission is needed to reproduce written materials, and (3) provides guidance on how to obtain permission when it is needed.

Reasons for the Policy Statement

This policy helps ensure that all members of the Columbia community have the information and support needed to comply with copyright law and University policy.

Responsible University Office

The Office of the Provost is responsible for oversight of this policy and for responding to questions regarding the policy and its implementation. However, legal questions concerning copyright law and its application to the reproduction of print materials should be directed to the Office of the General Counsel.

Who is Governed by this Policy

All members of the University community, as well as anyone working on behalf of the University, are required to comply with this policy.

Who Should Know about this Policy

All faculty members, administrators and staff who play a role in copying print materials or authorizing others to copy print materials.

Preamble to the Columbia University Copyright Policy

 

The central mission of Columbia University is to create, preserve, and disseminate knowledge through teaching and research. The community of scholars at Columbia has determined and established norms and values for the conduct of scholarly and scientific work that have evolved over the long history of the University.

Faculty at the University must be free to choose and pursue areas of study and concentration without interference, to share the results of their intellectual efforts with colleagues and students, to use and disseminate their own creations, and to take their created works with them should they leave the University.1

This copyright policy is intended to maintain those traditional norms and values that foster, in various ways, the open and free exchange of ideas and opinions. In this regard the policy formulated here follows a basic tenet of the 1940 Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors:

Institutions of higher education are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the institution as a whole. The common good depends upon the free search for truth and its free expression.

The ongoing revolution in the use of information technology for the production and dissemination of knowledge enables members of the University community to create new forms or types of scholarly works, to communicate with current audiences with new types of materials, and to reach new audiences. The dramatic changes in information technologies and the ways in which they are employed provide an occasion to examine and clarify policy for copyright of works of scholarship produced at the University. This copyright policy statement delineates the rights and responsibilities of the University and its faculty, employees, students, and other members of the community.

By longstanding custom, faculty members hold copyright for books, monographs, articles, and similar works as delineated in the policy statement, whether distributed in print or electronically. This pattern will not change. This copyright policy retains and reasserts those rights.

The use of new media technologies has changed the process of creation of intellectual works. Some of the resources (physical, financial, and human) needed to employ the new technologies are shared resources, provided by the University for the common benefit of all members of the University community. But, in many cases, the use of new media technologies requires increased involvement by the University in the form of financial support, expert services, equipment, and other facilities beyond the base level of support and common resources provided to faculty.

Columbia will hold rights in copyright to works of authorship that are created at the University by faculty, research staff, and others and that are supported by a direct allocation of University funds, are commissioned by the University, make substantial use of financial or logistical support from the University beyond the level of common resources provided to faculty, or are otherwise subject to contractual obligations.

In those instances in which the University holds rights, faculty members can use the works involved for noncommercial purposes.

This policy recognizes that ownership of intellectual property and the sharing of economic returns from the licensing or commercialization of that property are two related yet distinct matters. Even when intellectual property rights are held by the University, revenues from new digital media and other property should be shared among its creators, including individual faculty, researchers, departments, schools, and the larger University. A description of the precise mechanism for distribution of revenues received from the intellectual property is appended to the policy statement and follows guidelines that have worked effectively for the sharing of revenues from patents.

Any beneficial returns to the University should be used for the common good in furtherance of its mission. Any share of revenues from intellectual property returned to the University should be invested visibly in the teaching and research enterprise of the University to seed new initiatives, enhance quality, and support quality academic programs including those that are not capable of reaping significant returns from their own created works.

This policy also is intended to strengthen current protection of the reputation of the University. Columbia’s name deserves careful nurture and protection. As a general principle, the name of the University is not the property of any individual, department, or School. When the University’s name is associated with a work of scholarship or other educational materials such as courses, the interests of the University and its community of scholars are affected and the University must exercise quality control with respect to the use of its name. This is particularly true when intellectual property is created for use by other educational institutions or by for-profit organizations, including development of extensive courses to be offered on-line. Faculty members, deans, and other members of the University community who create courses or digitized content for other universities or for profit-making entities should be certain that all new collaborative agreements with outside entities receive approval of the University’s President, who with regard to such agreements acts on behalf of the Trustees through the Offices of the Provost and Executive Vice Provost.

This copyright policy contains elements that intersect with other, existing policies at the University, most notably those that address conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, and disclosure of activities by members of the University community. The copyright policy does not replace those existing policies; rather it is meant to complement them.

It is inevitable that this copyright policy and its implementation will require interpretation and review. A standing committee, appointed by the Provost and including members of the University faculty and administration and a student officer, will be formed to provide such oversight and adjudicate disputes.

 

  1. Certain officers of research at the University share in these rights as well.

Columbia University Copyright Policy

This Copyright Policy1 sets forth the rights and responsibilities of the University; its faculty; other employees; students with student officer appointments or other students or postdoctoral fellows who are collaborating with faculty members or researchers; and consultants. Copyright law protects the expression contained in works of authorship such as books, articles, memoranda, texts, computer programs, musical works, dramatic works, pictorial works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, multimedia works, web pages and sound recordings.2

Section I of the Policy describes the various categories of such works of authorship and addresses issues of ownership and assertion of rights in connection with those works. Section II sets forth how the Policy will be administered and provides for the creation of a Copyright Policy Standing Committee made up of faculty members, a student officer, and academic administrators (with the majority consisting of faculty members who do not also have administrative appointments at the University) to address issues concerning the proper interpretation of the Policy and to adjudicate disputes between creators and the University on issues of copyright ownership.

Section II also provides for a disclosure mechanism for works covered by this Policy and describes the procedures for licensing of works subject to University ownership or control under this Policy. When the works are licensed commercially, revenues from such commercialization will be shared among creators, their research accounts, departments, schools and the central University in accordance with Section II and a Distribution Policy attached as Appendix B to this Policy.

I. Copyright Ownership; Assertion of Rights

A. Traditional Faculty Authorship Rights 

In keeping with longstanding academic custom, the University recognizes faculty ownership of copyright in traditional works of authorship created by faculty such as textbooks, other works of nonfiction and novels, articles, or other creative works, such as poems, musical compositions and visual works of art, whether such works are disseminated in print or electronically.

B. Assertion of Rights by the University 

The University asserts copyright ownership in any work of authorship that is: (i) created with substantial use of University resources, financial support or non-faculty University personnel beyond the level of common resources provided to faculty; (ii) created or commissioned for use by the University; or (iii) created under the terms of a sponsored project where the terms of the sponsored project require that copyright be in the name of the University. Additionally, any work created by an officer of administration (including a faculty member or officer of research only when acting in his or her capacity as an officer of administration), or by a support staff member acting within the scope of his or her employment generally constitutes a "work made for hire" as defined by federal law (see section on Copyright Ownership; Work for Hire, in Appendix A), and the University asserts copyright ownership in such works. However, as set forth under the Licensing and Revenue Sharing provisions below, certain categories of creators of works that constitute works for hire will share in revenues arising from their creation.

Ordinary use of resources such as the libraries, one’s office, desktop computer and University computer infrastructure, secretarial staff and supplies, is not considered to be substantial use of such resources for purposes of vesting the University with copyright ownership in a work.

Where the University owns the copyright in a work, it will acknowledge creators (including creators of works-for-hire) who have made a substantial creative contribution to the work, if the creators so request.

Independently of this Copyright Policy, the University may have rights in works subject to this Policy by virtue of other University policies, including the University’s Patent Policy (titled "Statement of Policy on Proprietary Rights in the Intellectual Products of Faculty Activity" and set forth as an appendix to the Faculty Handbook).

C. Commercial Distribution of Creator-owned Works 

A faculty member, or other creator, who owns the copyright in his or her works under this Policy, other than course content or courseware under paragraph I.E.2, may commercialize those works, without the authority or permission of the University, so long as the University’s name is not used in connection with works so made available, other than to identify the faculty member as an instructor at the University.

D. Non-commercial Distribution of Creator-owned Works 

A faculty member, or other creator, who owns the copyright in works under this Policy, other than course content or courseware under paragraph I.E.2, may make the work freely available on non-commercial terms (that is, without remuneration to the author), for free or commercial redistribution, without the authority or permission of the University, so long as the University's name is not used in connection with works so made available, other than to identify the faculty member as an instructor at the University.

With respect to faculty-owned course content and courseware under paragraph I.E.2., a faculty member may make the work freely available for academic and scholarly use, without the authority or permission of the University (subject to the provisions of paragraph I.E.2(d)), to recipients who agree that they will not make commercial use of the material, so long as the University's name is not used in connection with works so made available, other than to identify the faculty member as an instructor at the University.

E. Categories of Works

The following description of various categories of works indicates which works would generally fall into the categories of works in which the University would assert copyright ownership.

1. Institutional Works

Copyright in Institutional Works is owned by the University.

(a) Examples of Institutional Works are journals, periodicals, yearbooks, compendia, anthologies and films published by divisions of the University (even if the individual components do not constitute Institutional Works), and works created for a specific University use. Works created by employees at the direction of the University for University purposes, such as materials for administrative use and computer software created by non-faculty University programmers for use by the University, are works for hire as defined by federal copyright law, and the University owns the copyright in such works.

(b) Institutional Works also include some works produced as a collaborative effort under the aegis of a school or department, for example, works created in a project initiated by a school or department, or works that are created and then developed and improved over time by a series of individuals, where authorship cannot be attributed to any one individual or group of individuals. An example of the latter would be certain kinds of software which are developed and then improved and updated over time by multiple creators.

However, not all works that are created as a result of a collaborative effort among a number of individuals would necessarily be considered Institutional Works. As with other kinds of copyrightable works, the facts and circumstances of each case must be reviewed in order to determine whether the University would claim copyright ownership in accordance with this Policy.

2.Course Content and Courseware

(a) General policy - Copyright ownership rights and control of course content and courseware are governed by general copyright law and University copyright policy, as well as by the University’s conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies and policies governing use of the University name. "Courseware" is the set of tools and technologies used to present course content, and is independent of the content itself. "Course content" is the intellectual content of the course, as taught at or through the University. The University asserts copyright in course content and/or courseware which may be created under the aegis of a school or department of the University ("institutional courses").

The University recognizes faculty copyright ownership in non-institutional course content and courseware created by individual instructors (subject to certain restrictions on licensing set forth in subsections (d), (e) and (f) of this Section and in Section IIA below). However, University policies on conflict of commitment, conflict of interest and use of the University name, as more fully described in subsection (d) of this Section and Section I.E.3 below, limit the faculty member’s ability unilaterally to commercialize non-institutional course content and courseware. The University will assert copyright ownership in such course content and courseware if there is an independent basis for the University’s assertion of such rights (e.g, the course content or courseware is created with substantial use of University resources, financial support or non-faculty personnel or pursuant to the terms of a sponsored project which require University copyright ownership).

(b) Videotapes and recordings - The University claims ownership rights in videotapes or other recordings of all courses, and the parts thereof, that are made at University expense. Ownership of the videotape or recording itself does not mean that the University claims rights in the intellectual content presented on the tape or recording. Copyright ownership in the content is governed by the principles set forth above.

(c) Use of course content and courseware at Columbia - Independently of copyright ownership, a faculty member has the right to use all course content and courseware he or she develops or creates in the normal course of teaching or research at Columbia. This right includes the right to make changes to the works and the right to distribute such works to Columbia students, faculty and other University personnel for teaching, research and other noncommercial University purposes.

(d) Use of course content and courseware outside of Columbia: teaching and creation of course content and courseware - Independently of copyright ownership, a full-time faculty member may teach courses and create courseware at other academic institutions as part of ordinary scholarly exchanges, including visiting professorships and guest lectures, as long as these activities remain consistent with the terms set forth in the University’s policies on conflict of interest and conflict of commitment (including the provisions that require approval by the Provost and the appropriate dean or department head), and as long as these activities do not include or allow the commercialization of any course content, courseware or other teaching or research-related activities created or conducted at another institution. A faculty member may not teach any course or create any course or courseware for a commercial enterprise without the approval of the appropriate dean and the Provost.

(e) Use of Columbia course content and courseware outside of Columbia: commercialization - Also consistent with the University’s policies on conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, and use of the University name, a faculty member, notwithstanding copyright ownership, may not commercialize course content or courseware created or taught at the University, without the approval of his or her respective dean and the Provost. The University will not commercialize either institutional or non-institutional course content and courseware, without the agreement of the faculty member or members who created the course content or courseware in question.

(f) Use of Columbia course content and courseware after departure from Columbia - If a faculty member leaves the University, he or she may continue to use at another academic or not-for-profit research institution for teaching, research and other noncommercial purposes, all course content and courseware he or she created or taught at Columbia, including both institutional and non-institutional course content and courseware, provided the Columbia name is not used in connection with the course content or courseware. A former faculty member may not commercialize any institutional course content or courseware. A former faculty member is free to make commercial use of non-institutional course content and courseware that he or she developed or created at Columbia and create new courses based thereon, provided that (i) there is no independent basis for the University’s claiming rights (e.g., created with substantial use of University resources, created or commissioned for use by Columbia, or created under the terms of a sponsored project where the terms of the project require that copyright be owned by the University); and (ii) the Columbia name is not used in connection with the course. The former faculty member who owns the copyright in course content or courseware accords the University the irrevocable nonexclusive right to continue using, as part of its noncommercial educational activities, all non-institutional course content and courseware that has been made available by the faculty member, e.g. the syllabus and material given to students. This right includes the nonexclusive right to incorporate such course content and courseware into institutional courses.

3. Works that Use the University Name

Use of the University’s name in connection with a work, other than by way of identification of the creator as a faculty member, researcher, other employee or student at Columbia, is itself use of a significant University resource, thus triggering an interest on the part of the University. Additionally, use of the University’s name can affect the reputation and academic standing of the institution. Consistent with the University’s general use of name policy (see the 2000 Faculty Handbook, pages xx-xx), faculty members, researchers, other employees (as well as their respective departments and schools), and students may not participate in the creation or use of works that might give the impression of University sponsorship where there is none. Any use of the University name (other than to identify the creator by his or her title at Columbia) in connection with a work created by a faculty member, researcher or other employee must be approved in advance by the Provost.

Similarly, if the name of the University is to be used in connection with any works created under collaborative agreements with outside entities (other than to identify the creator by his or her title at Columbia), such agreements must be approved in advance by the Provost.

4. Software

In accordance with the University’s Patent Policy, the University claims rights in inventions or discoveries, including computer software "that are or may be patentable as well as to the technology associated with them." If the software is not covered by the Patent Policy, the University will not claim copyright ownership unless there is an independent basis for asserting such rights, as set forth in Section I.B

5. Work Arising out of Consulting Agreements and Other Outside Activities

As set forth in the University’s policy on faculty consulting, faculty members are permitted to engage in outside activities for an average of no more than one day a week during the period in which a faculty member is expected to provide services to the University.3 An employee other than a faculty member is not permitted to undertake any outside consulting activities or other employment without permission from his or her department head or supervisor. No use of University resources, financial support or other University personnel may be made in the course of permitted outside activities. All consulting must be consistent with the University’s policies on conflict of interest, conflict of commitment and use of the University name.

Consistent with the University policy on faculty consulting, if a creator does not make any use of University resources in the course of his or her outside activities and complies with other applicable University policies, including those on conflict of interest, conflict of commitment and use of University name, the University does not assert rights in works resulting from such activities. The University’s policies on outside employment can be found in the 2000 Faculty Handbook (pages xx-xx of the Handbook).

6. Works by Non-Employees

The University claims ownership of works prepared for the University by non-employees, such as consultants or subcontractors retained by the University. However, under the Copyright Act, copyright in such works is owned by the creator unless there is a written agreement to the contrary. Accordingly, the University requires that there be a written agreement with any non-employee retained to do work for the University providing that ownership of any copyrightable works created by the non-employee shall be owned by the University.

II.  Administration of Policy

A. Licensing and Revenue Sharing 

The University, through an appropriate technology transfer and licensing office and with the assistance of the Office of the General Counsel and other offices as needed, will provide appropriate services, including legal services, to commercialize works covered by these licensing and revenue sharing provisions. Any decisions concerning commercialization of the work will be made in consultation with the creator. The creator and the University will bring to the other’s attention any licensing or other commercialization possibilities of which either becomes aware.

Works covered by these licensing and revenue-sharing provisions include (i) works made with substantial use of University resources, financial support or non-faculty personnel, (ii) works created under terms of a sponsored project that require University copyright ownership, and (iii) Columbia institutional and non-institutional course content and courseware. With regard to Institutional Works (as defined in Paragraph I.E.1) and works that would be considered works-for-hire under federal copyright law, the University will determine on a case-by-case basis whether it is appropriate for the creators of such works to share any revenues arising from commercialization of such works. Works for hire consist of works created by an officer of administration (including a faculty member or officer of research acting in his or her capacity as an officer of administration), or by a support staff member acting within the scope of his or her employment.

Special provisions apply to the commercialization of course content and courseware. As with other works subject to this Policy, the commercialization of course content and courseware taught at Columbia (whether or not such course content or courseware is contained in Institutional courses) will be undertaken under the auspices of the University; however, the University will not undertake any such commercialization without the agreement of the faculty in question.

The University will ensure that any revenue arising from commercialization under this Policy will be shared among the creators, creators’ research accounts, schools, departments and the central University in accordance with the Distribution Policy set forth in Appendix B.

The licensing of books, articles and other non-institutional works described in Section I.A above is under the control of the faculty members creating such works. However, if any article or other such work is to be published, the creator shall seek to reserve the right to provide the University with a royalty-free right to use a reasonable portion of the published work within the University for teaching, research and other non-commercial University purposes. If the creator is successful in retaining such right, the creator shall grant such right to the University.

B. Responsibilities of Creators 

In order to ensure that a proper determination of ownership is made, creators will promptly disclose to the University all copyrightable works in which the University may claim or assert rights under this Policy. Part of the disclosure by creators shall include a disclosure of the circumstances under which the work was created, a description of any University resources that were used, and any financial or other relationship with a third party that might affect the University’s rights in the work (for example, any consulting agreements or third party funding agreements pursuant to which a work was created).

If the creator is uncertain whether the University would claim copyright ownership in a work, the work should be disclosed.

Creators will cooperate with the University in protecting ownership and other proprietary rights in the works (for example, executing assignments to the University and any other necessary documents).

C. Copyright Agreement 

This Policy constitutes an understanding that is binding on the University, and on its faculty, other employees, and other covered individuals as a condition of their participating in University research, educational and other programs or their use of University facilities or resources. The University may require formal copyright agreements to implement the Policy as appropriate, but the absence of such executed agreements shall not invalidate the applicability of the Policy.

Nothing in this Policy shall constitute a waiver by the University of any rights that the University has under any other University policy, including the Patent Policy.

D. Transfer of Intellectual Property to the Inventor or Creator

If the University has determined that a work subject to University copyright ownership under this Policy has no likely commercial value, and subject to the terms of any applicable agreements with third parties under which the work was created, the University will consider a request by the creator to transfer copyright ownership in the work to the creator, subject to an irrevocable royalty-free license to the University to use the work for its own non-commercial purposes. Such a request must be approved by the Provost, and will be conditioned upon reimbursement of the University by the creator for out-of-pocket expenses the University has incurred in connection with the work, including legal and marketing expenses (if any). The University will act as expeditiously as reasonably possible in considering such requests by creators.

E. Making University-Owned Works Freely Available to the Public 

If a creator of a work whose copyright is owned by the University, including a creator of a work-for-hire, wishes to make a work freely available to the public, through noncommercial licensing or other means, the University, subject to the terms of any applicable agreements with third parties under which the work was created, will accommodate such wishes as long as it determines that the benefits to the public of making such works freely available outweigh any advantages that might be derived from commercialization. The University will act as expeditiously as reasonably possible in making such determination.

F. Copyright Policy Standing Committee 

A Copyright Policy Standing Committee, made up of faculty members, a student officer and academic administrators, with the majority of the Committee consisting of faculty members who do not hold administrative positions, shall be formed by the Provost to address any issues concerning the proper interpretation of this Policy and to resolve any disputes between creators and the University concerning ownership of works and what constitutes substantial use of University resources. Members of the University community may obtain advice from this Committee. A representative of the General Counsel’s Office shall serve as an ex officio member of the Committee. The creator of a work may appeal the decision of the Committee to the President. The decision of the President will be final. Decisions of the Standing Committee and the President will be publicly available.

G. Review of Copyright Policy 

Three years after the effective date of this Policy, the Provost shall appoint a committee consisting of a majority of faculty members and broadly representative of the various schools and divisions of the University, to review this Policy and its implementation, and if appropriate, to recommend revisions to the Policy, including whether to conduct a subsequent review at any time thereafter.

Appendix A: Definition of Copyright and Related Terms

Copyright - Works of Authorship - The Copyright Law of the United States protects original works of authorship that are fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Originality, in the context of copyright law, means simply that the work has not been copied, i.e., it is an independent creation. A work is "fixed" in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.

Subject Matter of Copyright - The categories of copyrightable works of authorship include:

  • Literary works.
  • Musical works, including any accompanying words.
  • Dramatic works, including any accompanying music.
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works.
  • Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works.
  • Sound recordings.
  • Architectural works.

Literary works are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia, regardless of the nature of the material objects, such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, phonorecords, film, computer programs, tapes, disks, or cards in which they are embodied.

Copyright protection does not extend to ideas, procedures, processes, or useful articles. While ideas are not protectible, the original manner in which those ideas are expressed is.

Scope of Copyright Protection - Subject to various exceptions set forth in the law, the Copyright Act grants the copyright owner five exclusive rights:

  • To reproduce (make copies of) the work
  • To make derivative works based on the work
  • To distribute copies to the public
  • To perform the work publicly
  • To display the work publicly.

These rights can be separately licensed by the copyright owner or bundled together. Copyright ownership in a work is separate from ownership of the tangible object in which the work is contained. For example, purchase of a book or videotape in a store does not grant the purchaser copyright ownership in the book or videotape.

Copyright Ownership; Work for Hire - Copyright ownership initially vests in the creator of the work. The only exception to this rule is where the work is a work for hire. "Work for hire" generally refers to a work that is prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment. Certain specially ordered or commissioned works can also be considered works for hire, but only if they fall into certain categories of works that are enumerated in the Copyright Act and there is a written agreement between the creator and the party commissioning the work that the work will be considered a work for hire. "Work for hire" status means that the employer is considered the author of the work. Works subject to faculty ownership under this Policy are not treated as works for hire.

Commissioned Works - For purposes of paragraph I.B.ii, works of authorship are considered commissioned by the University if their creation is specifically directed by the University for its own use. Works are not commissioned if their creation is merely encouraged or casually rewarded, or if the works once created at a faculty member’s own initiative are later adopted or employed by the University.

Software - "Software" means computer programs. A "computer program" is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.

 

Appendix B: Distribution of the Proceeds Received from Works Subject to this Policy

Applicability

Allocations are calculated for each innovation/creation and are not affected by changes in the licensee(s) for any particular innovation/creation.

The decision to license multiple, related innovations/creations as if they were one innovation/creation will be made by the University in consultation with the creators of the works. If there are multiple developers/creators and more than one innovation/creation covered by a single license agreement, the majority of the developers/creators will determine the weight that each innovation/creation should be given in order to calculate the developer’s/creator’s share. The results of this calculation will also be used to distribute the other shares. A net accumulation will be calculated for each innovation/creation but accumulation limits (see below) apply to the multiple, related innovations/creations as if they were one innovation/creation.

Decisions about whether licenses shall be exclusive or non-exclusive shall be made by the University in consultation with the creator(s).

The Provost may reallocate central university funds and must approve any exceptions to the policy. The Provost will resolve disagreements about matters of definition and the applicability of distribution policy.

If the University seeks patent protection for a work subject to this Policy, proceeds will be distributed in accordance with the Patent Policy rather than this Policy.

There are two distribution models. The first follows the current practice for intellectual property policy distribution that has been followed with respect to software and applies to software/new media that will not be further enhanced within the University. The second applies to software/new media that will require additional development efforts within the University. Expenditures for continuing development may be subject to limitations imposed by external entities with whose support innovations/creations were conceived.

Distribution of License Income from Software/New Media that will not be Further Enhanced within the University

Net income is defined as 80% of gross income; 20% of gross income is used for pooled legal and administrative expenses and internally reinvested funds. The University reserves the right to deduct additional sums for extraordinary expenses. After the 20% is deducted, the distribution is:

 

Accumulation limits apply and are specified below.

Distribution of License Income from Software/New Media that will be Further Enhanced by the Developer within the University

This distribution formula for software/new media that requires continuing development or enhancement is different from the distribution formula set forth above because of differences in the costs involved in marketing, distributing and/or maintaining such innovations/creations within the University. In the formula, additional resources are made available to the developer’s research and innovation account to permit continuing development. After 20% is deducted to reach net income, the distribution is:

Developers/creators are required to provide annual verification to Columbia Media Enterprises that enhancements are proceeding.

If new versions of software/new media are significantly different from previous versions, the new versions will be considered separate innovations/creations for the purpose of determining revenue distributions.

Accumulation limits apply and are specified below.

Share for the Developer/Creator

The developer/creator can be a person or persons or a center, department, school or the Central University. Developers/creators can also be a mix of more than one of these categories.4

Developers/creators determine allocations of this share among themselves; the Provost will resolve disagreements.

In those cases in which the developer/creator is an individual, his/her share will not be altered when affiliation with the University is terminated. In the event of his/her death, his/her share shall inure to his/her estate.

Share for the Developer’s Research and Innovation Account

The developer’s research and innovation account can be controlled by a person or persons or by a center, department, school or the Central University. The account can also involve a mix of more than one of these categories.

The developer’s research and innovation account may be used only for University research, innovation, or educational purposes designated by the developers/creators.

Any excess over $500,000 received in a given year reverts to a strategic initiative fund maintained by the Provost and used for internal funding of research, teaching, and innovation projects.

In those cases in which the developer/creator is a person whose affiliation with the University is terminated, the developer’s research and innovation account will be transferred to the Central University. For these purposes, Professor emeritus status is considered as continuing affiliation with the University.

If there is more than one developer/creator, the same allocation percentages that govern the developer’s/creator’s share will be used for internal allocations of the developer’s research and innovation account. Graduate students with no innovative areas of their own will not receive a portion of the developer’s research and innovation account.

If there is more than one developer/creator and one of them leaves, the developer’s research and innovation account will be reallocated among the remaining developer/creators. New allocation percentages are based upon original ratios. Example: original = 50/25/25; developer/creator with 25% leaves; new = 67/33. If all developers/creators leave, the developer’s research and innovation account share reverts to the Central University to be reallocated.

Share for the Department

The department share may be used only for University research, innovation, or educational purposes designated by the department(s).

Any excess over $1,000,000 received in a given year reverts to a strategic initiative fund maintained by the Provost and used for internal funding of research, teaching, and innovation projects.

If a developer/creator belongs to more than one department, the unit(s) within which the innovation/creation arose receive(s) the department share. Allocations among departments are determined by the departments according to the contribution each department made to the development of the innovation/creation; the Provost will resolve disagreements.

If the innovation/creation involves several developers/creators from different departments, allocation of the department share will follow the allocation percentages used for the developer’s/creator’s share.

The department share is unaffected when a developer’s/creator’s affiliation with the University is terminated.

Share for the School

The school share may be used only for University research, innovation, or educational purposes designated by the dean of the faculty.

Any excess over $5,000,000 received in a given year reverts to a strategic initiative fund maintained by the Provost and used for internal funding of research, teaching, and innovation projects.

If a developer/creator belongs to more than one faculty, the unit(s) within which the innovation/creation arose receive(s) the school share. Allocations among schools are determined by the schools according to the contribution each school made to the development of the innovation/creation; the Provost will resolve disagreements.

If the innovation/creation involves several developers/creators from different schools, allocation of the school share will follow the allocation percentages used for the developer’s/creator’s share.

The school share is unaffected when a developer’s/creator’s affiliation with the University is terminated.

Share for the Central University

Expenditure of the Central University share for research, teaching, and innovation projects requires approval of the Provost’s Office.


  1. This Policy was approved by the Trustees of the University at their June 3, 2000 meeting and is effective as of that date.
  2. Definitions of copyright, copyrightable work, work for hire and related terms used in this Policy are set forth in Appendix A to this Policy. 
  3. An exception to the one-day-a-week policy is in the case of participants in private practice plans in the Health Sciences whose outside activities are determined by those plans. 
  4. Under the distribution formulas presented in this Appendix, in the event that the developer/creator is a department the license income shares for the department, the developer’s research and innovation account, and the developer/creator are allocated to the department. Similarly, if the developer/creator is a School, shares for the School, the department, the developer’s research and innovation account and the developer/creator are allocated to the School. If the developer/creator is the Central University, all shares are allocated to the University.

 

Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions About the Columbia University Copyright

If, under the policy, you hold the copyright, you may place your work in the public domain. [Section I.D] The only restriction is for faculty-owned course content and courseware; works of this type may be made freely available for academic and scholarly use to recipients who agree that they will not make commercial use of the material. [Section I.D]

If, under the policy, the University holds copyright, the University will, at the request of the creator of the work, make the work freely available to the public if it determines that the benefits to the public of making such work freely available outweigh any advantages that might be derived from commercialization. [Section II.E] The University recognizes that both the University and the public have derived substantial benefits in the past from the University’s participation in the General Public License free software program and similar programs and the University encourages continued participation in such programs.

No. “Course content” is not meant to include pre-existing works that are read, discussed, or otherwise used in class. [Section I.E.2.(a)]

While “course content” includes works that are created specifically for use in or as part of a course, it does not include books and similar works subsequently developed from course content that the faculty member seeks to make available commercially or non-commercially. [Section I.E.2.(a)] Furthermore, the policy explicitly recognizes the traditional authorship rights of faculty in books and similar works. [Section I.A]

No. The policy notes that the mere fact that a course is taught by a number of individuals does not mean that the course is an “institutional course.” [Section I.E.1(b)]

You are not required to obtain permission from the University to teach a course outside the University in a subject unrelated to the subjects of courses you teach at Columbia. Restrictions on courses taught elsewhere, if any, are covered by the University’s conflict of interest and conflict of commitment policies. The copyright policy is intended to be consistent with all other relevant policies of the University. [Section I.E.2.(d)]

No, that is not the intent of the policy. University policies on conflict of commitment, conflict of interest, and use of the University’s name do apply in this case and faculty should consult with the appropriate dean before teaching such courses.

No. However, if the terms of the grant require that the University hold copyright, the University would assert ownership under Section I.B.

No. In fact, most federal grants do not require that the University hold copyright in works created as a result of the grant. In this regard, copyright differs from patents. Under federal statute, most federal grants do require that patents resulting from inventions arising from work under the grants be held by the University.

When assigning rights to the publisher, you should insert language in the agreement that is consistent with, or identical to, the language that appears in Section II.A of the policy: the creator “reserves the right to provide the University with a royalty-free right to use a reasonable portion of the published work within the University for teaching, research, and other non-commercial University purposes.” Experience at other universities at which faculty and other creators have requested such a right indicates that most publishers accept the language and that inserting the language has not led to delays in publication.