#UBC passes course copyright policy with minimal consultation #bced #bcpoli #highered #caut

by Stephen Petrina on February 26, 2014

The University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors passed a new “Use of Teaching Materials” policy on February 26 with minimal consultation with the Faculty Association of UBC (FAUBC). Unless faculty members indicate on course materials that their use is protected or unless they file “a prescribed Use of Teaching Materials form” form each course each time its offered, the University now claims the right to use the materials as administrators see fit:

…if a UBC Instructor makes his/her Teaching Materials available for use by others, unless that UBC Instructor places restrictions upon the Teaching Materials he/she shares in accordance with Section 2, UBC may, through its Faculties, Departments and individual Instructors, use, revise, and allow other UBC Instructors to use and revise the Teaching Materials to facilitate ongoing offerings of Credit Courses. The contribution of all UBC Instructors to the development of such Teaching Materials will be acknowledged in accordance with accepted scholarly standards unless the UBC Instructors advise UBC, at any time, that they do not wish such acknowledgement.

FAUBC President Nancy Langton cautioned faculty members:

If you share your teaching materials without taking any additional steps, you will be deemed to have given permission for anyone in the UBC teaching community to use and revise your materials at will. This deemed consent is irrevocable. It is not clear what the policy means when it refers to “sharing” teaching materials. This may include situations such as if someone asks to see your syllabus, or a case you wrote, or you post your materials on a public website.

In addition, you will have to ask UBC to “relinquish the rights” it will apparently acquire through Policy 81 prior to trying to publish your teaching materials. Although you will still technically own the copyright, this a hollow right if others may use and/or revise your material without your explicit agreement or permission.  Generally, under the Copyright Act, only a copyright owner can use, revise, or reproduce a copyrighted work or give others permission to do so.  We do not believe that Policy 81 is fully compatible with your rights as copyright owners under the Copyright Act.

The Association very much supports the notion of sharing teaching materials, and many of us do that. But traditionally, letting someone see your syllabus (or case, etc.) has not been equivalent to granting that person the legal right to use and revise the material as they see fit. Under the new policy, that’s what this will mean.

While the policy was being developed, the Association advised the University that the only acceptable version of Policy 81 is one that would involve opting into the policy, rather than opting out. Under an opt-in policy, members who want to share their teaching materials for others to use and revise without the copyright owner’s permission could mark them as such. The University refused this compromise. Instead, if you do not opt-out, your deemed consent to the use and revision of your teaching material is irrevocable.

The Association advises you that, given Policy 81, if you do not wish others to have the right to use, revise and/or reproduce your teaching materials, it is important that you mark anything that you do share in a manner that indicates that the material is for reference only.