Educational CyberPlayGround ®

Who owns K-12 Online IP Content?

Higher Ed

  • Individual professors get new provisions to their employment contracts
  • Unions are beginning to define intellectual property issues in higher education's collective-bargaining agreements. A two-year-old, smoothly running agreement Mott Community College in Flint, Mich. agreement says faculty is compensated for creating a course but the institution owns the completed course package. The faculty member, continues to own all notes and materials used in creating the course. Mottt also gives the faculty member who creates a course the first right of refusal for teaching the course, specifying payment structures for the sales of accompanying study guides created by the faculty member, and requiring compensation when that faculty member consults with somebody else who will be teaching the course.
  • N.C. Professor is allowed to sell his class lectures online


K12 to follow the lead of higher education. The NEA, will be working to make K12 members aware of why intellectual property guidelines matter, primarily through putting background materials on the union's Web site.

The Shop-right Arrangement
The district will set themselves up to earn income so that they can compete with charter schools and virtual schools - they want to sell online too.

  • gives teachers an incentive to create high-quality material
  • gives districts access to those materials
  • may include a publicity clause so the district is always recognized if the materials are sold or used elsewhere.
  • teachers and districts will share the revenue when the materials are sold
  • The district,might be a more powerful marketing force than an individual teacher

Satisfy the New Post Baby Boomer Teachers Hired Who Are

  • entrepreneurial people who have grown up with technology
  • use high-tech tools
  • know how commodities travel through the digital economy
  • will not care much about unions and will want to make money with adjusting their working hours, demand specific technology are highly unlikely to agree to a work-for-hire clause

Corporate work-for-hire Concept (how it works now)

  • k - 12 school districts usually do not have any IP policy, never did.
  • copyright law is not well defined in higher education or K-12 interpretations of the law, say there is an "education exception" to work-for-hire, though that concept has not yet been tested in court.
  • Ownership of intellectual property is resolved by deciding if the material was developed within the scope of a teacher's employment and the district that signs the paycheck owns the material.
  • Teachers who create materials on their own, are freelancers and canclaim IP ownership
  • work-for-hire is an absolute necessity in the corporate environment. A district is liable for what happens in the classroom, so that implies that the district has some ownership of the materials used in the classroom
  • KM technology was developed for the corporate market, it uses the corporate work-for-hire model. Contributing to the system is defined as a part of an employee's job, and the company owns the resulting resources.

Knowledge Management [KM] is an IP Compensation School District Stratedgy

  • Corporate KM systems are used widely in the business world to capture a company's intellectual assets and allow other employees to learn from them.
  • The idea is that an authority on a particular subject is given a template to use in translating that expertise into a document.
  • A learning specialist then turns the data into an online learning unit that is available to the rest of the company.
  • Gatekeepers evaluate the resources going into the system.

The School Districts and Unions don't have this figured out

Meta-data Solutions
  • Ownership of online learning materials will be defined by tags
  • "learning object" is tagged with information describing who owns which percentages, track usage and ownership and issue checks to the right parties.
  • "IMS meta-data specifications" are standards for defining or describing learning objects.
  • The IMS Global Learning Consortium, which established the IMS meta-data tags, has not yet created standard tags to define who owns which percentage of an object. But when it does, a number of companies are likely to build Web-based tools that would allow a district to take that information, collect payments, and issue checks.

Collaboration, Sharing and Society /Teaching, Learning and Technical Considerations From An Analysis of WebCT, BSCW, and BlackBoard by Paul Pavlik

Workload Increase for Faculty Without Increased Salaries "Copyright Considerations in Distance Education and Technology-Mediated Instruction," by Kenneth D. Salomon. Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, PLLC. American Association of Community Colleges, July 5, 2000;

"Ownership of New Works at the University: Unbundling of Rights and the Pursuit of Higher Learning." California State University, 1997; online at the Web site of the Consortium for Educational Technology in University Systems,

"Who Owns Online Courses and Course Materials? Intellectual Property Policies for a New Learning Environment," by Carol A. Twigg. Pew Learning and Technology Program, 2000; mono2.html.