FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

Nearly a decade after the Copyright Policy was approved in May 2007, an amendment has been proposed by Professor Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research and Innovation, to provide consistency in the handling of copyright revenues. The amendment calls for harmonizing their distribution with the Inventions Policy, which governs the commercialization of inventions through the university.

Under this amendment, the author’s share of copyright revenue will increase to 40 per cent from 25 per cent when the university commercializes their work, but it will remain unchanged from 75 per cent when the author commercializes their own work.

Due to the introduction of online education via platforms like edX and Coursera, Goel said that “a very small amount of work gets commercialized.” Goel hopes that the amendment will clarify sharing of revenue and make it more advantageous for authors creating work by giving them a better incentive.

The university owns any work created by an author during their employment at the university under the assumption that the work created in an author’s course of employment made substantial use of university resources.

Work does not include any research or books published by authors during their course of employment. Rather, it refers to works by authors where they are tasked to create learning material — like video or learning audio.

The author’s actual share in revenue through the university’s commercialization is 60 per cent, but the author must pay a 20 per cent management fee. The rest of the revenue is distributed to the author’s academic division, the author’s department, and to the Connaught fund — a reserve dedicated to research.

“We don’t engage in this to make money,” said Goel, adding that the purpose of the Copyright Policy is to ensure that the products created by authors affiliated with the university are used in a way that stops people from taking their work.

An author, as the policy defines, includes any member of the university’s teaching staff, administrative staff, librarians, postdoctoral fellows, students, or any visitor to the university. Defining postdoctoral fellows as authors is one of the major proposed amendments.

Previously, according to Goel, there was confusion regarding the copyright status of work created by students or trainees, which this amendment clears up.

The university, where it does not own copyright, still has a right to receive shares of the net revenue generated by the work, as well as use, revise, and modify the work for research and teaching purposes within the university.

Goel said the university asserts some rights over these works to provide them on a royalty-free basis for educational purposes. If the authors were to do that themselves, it would be easy for a for-profit publisher to take them.

This proposed amendment to the Copyright Policy came about after the university began reviewing its current practices; the revision process to this policy began in 2016.

Goel proposed this amendment to Governing Council’s Committee on Academic Policy & Programs. The governance path will take it before the Academic Board, Executive Committee, and finally to Governing Council for approval on February 14.

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