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IP Policies and Guidelines: Course Materials

Course materials created by faculty and other employees are subject to the same policies and guidelines as other copyright works, however there are aspects of the policies and guidelines that particularly impact course materials.

Even if, by policy, the copyright to course materials must be assigned to PSU (be PSU owned, see below for a more detailed discussion), the creator of those materials still retains quite a bit of control over those course materials.  As with other copyrighted works, our guidelines allow faculty and employees to continue to use and distribute their course materials outside of PSU even if they are obligated to assign them to PSU, as long as those course materials are not sold or otherwise offered for monetary value and as long as they are appropriate marked © Portland State University.

For course materials, however, an additional piece of the policy is particularly relevant: IMD 6.215 states that PSU reserves the right to use and license such PSU-owned copyright works.  Therefore, although the faculty or employee may use the PSU-owned course materials they create, so can PSU.  For this reason, although IIP may not require disclosure of such materials, the department or center may wish to keep them on record for subsequent use.

PSU-owned course materials that the creator wishes to subsequently use, have licensed, or have distributed outside the university in exchange for monetary compensation are required to be disclosed to IIP.  IIP will work with the creator to license and distribute these materials, and by policy will share 50% of all revenue from the licensing of such materials with the creator(s).

When are course materials obligated to be assigned to PSU?  Again, for reference, our ownership guidelines distilled from OAR 580-43 and IMD 6.2 are:

PSU does NOT require employee copyright works to be assigned to PSU unless;

  • The works were developed with institution support in the form of significant (more than incidental and more than minimal) personnel time, facilitates, or other resources;
  • The works were developed using sponsored effort in the form of funds administered or controlled by PSU; or
  • The works were developed as a part of a specific work assignment given by a supervisor or were specifically identified in a contractual provision, such as an employee’s employment agreement.

Although conditions one and three are in compliance with the following, for clarity IMD 6.215 specifically excludes lecture notes and other materials prepared by academic staff in connection with a teaching assignment and with only incidental use of institutional facilities, funds, staff, and other resources.

The second two conditions above are usually fairly clear.  Course materials (even if developed with incidental or minimal use of resources) developed using funding given or controlled by PSU or as a specific work assignment or under a specific contract will always be obligated to be assigned to PSU.

Regarding the first condition, incidental use may include the use of a university computer, printer, routine office software, reasonable office supplies, and normal scholarly and pedagogical interaction with other employees. Generally, course materials developed with such incidental institutional resources are not obligated to be assigned to PSU.

There is a section of the policy that refers to minimal use of resources - more than incidental but not significant.  Minimal use of resources may include any of the above used to a degree that exceeds the normal practice of course development (printing course packets with department supplies, etc.), and may also include services provided by the university such as copyright clearance, library services, or review by subject matter experts.  Course materials developed in this way are also not obligated to be assigned to PSU, however, IMD 6.255 requires that the institution be reimbursed for the costs of these minimal resources if the course materials are ever licensed or distributed for monetary compensation by the author.  These costs are to be agreed upon by the author and IIP.

Significant use of institutional resources may include help with course design, graphic design help for print or online materials, personnel or staff time in the form of course compliance with accreditation standards or assembly of materials into sequenced classes or an online platform.  Course materials developed in this way are obligated to be assigned to PSU.