1.09 Copyrights, Patents, Royalties

Last Revised: 15 Oct 2004

Refer Questions to: Manager, Risk Management & Insurance


This policy applies to faculty, teachers, staff, and students in all offices and divisions of Gallaudet University.



    It is the intent of Gallaudet University to assure that faculty, teachers, staff, and students have as much freedom as possible to use materials in their teaching, learning, and business activities as long as copyright laws are not violated. Gallaudet University abides by all laws, regulations, and guidelines pertaining to copyright, including, but not necessarily limited to, Title 17 of the U.S. Code (referred to as the U.S. Copyright Law and including the Copyright Act of 1976). Further, Gallaudet University respects and honors the copyright laws of foreign countries.

    Gallaudet University prohibits reproductions not specifically allowed by U.S. copyright law, fair use guidelines, licensing agreements, or permission of the copyright holder. Any individual who willfully violates University policy relating to copyright, by either making or requesting another staff member to make illegal reproductions, is held liable for those violations should the University be subject to a copyright lawsuit.

    Units or individuals requesting permission to reproduce or adapt copyrighted works must keep written copies of all requests and permission granted.

    The Gallaudet University Librarian, or his/her designee, is the University's authority with respect to copyright and is responsible for developing and disseminating guidelines to assure compliance with copyright laws.


    Gallaudet University encourages faculty, teachers, and staff to write and publish a wide variety of scholarly, instructional, and other materials, and to invent useful devices and methods. The purpose of this policy is to clarify the respective rights and responsibilities of Gallaudet University and of its employees with regard to copyrights and patents, and the distribution of any resulting royalties. The policy is intended to reflect the current status of Federal copyright law as it applies to the special relationship between employee and employer in a university setting.


      Copyrightable materials include at least the following:

      1. Books, journal articles, texts, glossaries, bibliographies, study guides, laboratory manuals, syllabi, tests, and proposals.
      2. Lectures, musical or dramatic compositions, and unpublished scripts.
      3. Films, video and audio tapes, live video or audio broadcasts, charts, transparencies, and other media regardless of format (e.g. paper, electronic).
      4. Workbooks, games, programmed instructional materials, and other similar materials used for instructional purposes.
      5. Computer programs. Copyright considerations apply in the following four categories: (1) individual efforts; (2) University-assisted individual efforts (3) University-assigned efforts; and (4) sponsor-supported efforts.

      Individual Efforts: Copyrightable materials produced by employees of the University are the exclusive property of the employees if there is no significant use of University personnel or facilities, and the materials are not prepared in accordance with the terms of a contract or grant or as a specific assignment. The payment of a regular salary and the provisions of a normal academic environment (e.g. office space, use of the library) do not constitute; significant use; of University personnel and facilities. A faculty member's general obligation to produce scholarly and creative works does not constitute a specific assignment.

      University-Assisted Individual Efforts: Copyrightable materials produced by employees of the University will be copyrighted by the employee and the University as co-authors if there is significant use of University personnel and facilities, and the materials are not prepared in accordance with the terms of a contract or grant or as a specific assignment. The division of income from royalties and other use will be agreed upon by the employee and the appropriate administrative officer in accordance with established policies and procedures, and in advance of the use of University personnel or facilities.

      University-Assigned Efforts: Copyrightable materials produced by employees of the University will be copyrighted by the University if the University has paid the employee for the writing or production of the specific materials (e.g. faculty members or teachers who receive summer or other pay for the specific purpose of developing or improving curriculum materials for courses, or staff, who as part of their job description or objectives, are expected to produce materials).

      Sponsor-Supported Efforts: Rights to copyrightable materials developed as a result of work supported in whole or in part by an outside agency through a contract or grant will be disposed of in accordance with the terms of the contract or grant.


      1. In any case where an individual anticipates producing a University-assisted item, the individual must, in advance, confer with the appropriate unit administrator (e.g., dean or director) to obtain written approval for the University-assisted effort and a written agreement as to the intention to apply for a joint copyright with the University as set forth in this policy. This written agreement will specify the division of royalties, if any, among the responsible individual, the University, and the specific unit or department providing the assistance.
      2. In any case where there is uncertainty as to whether an item is to be considered individual, University-assisted, University-assigned, or sponsor-supported under this policy, the author(s) and the appropriate unit administrator(s) should confer with the appropriate administrative officer (e.g., vice president) to discuss the circumstances and to request a determination. The administrative officer may elect to appoint an ad hoc committee of faculty, teachers, and/or staff to assist in reviewing the case and making the determination. Cases which cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved will be referred to the President for a final determination.
      3. In cases where copyrightable materials are produced as a result of work supported by a contract or grant from an outside agency, and the terms and conditions of the grant or contract do not specify, or they specify ambiguously, the disposition of copyright to such materials, the case will be referred to the appropriate administrative officer as in (2) above for a determination as to applicable policy and procedures. The administrative officer will be responsible for assuring that the University's rights are protected and its interests best served when institutional resources are being used.
      4. The University may elect to offer royalties to its employees in the case of University-assigned materials to which the University holds copyright. In such cases, the royalty agreement will be negotiated by the appropriate administrative officer in consultation with the administrator of the department or unit which provided the University assignment and support for the materials.

    2. PATENTS

      Faculty, teachers, staff, and University-employed students who, during their association with the University, discover and/or invent a device, product, or method, whether or not on University time and/or with use of the facilities of the University, will cooperate with the University in defining the rights to any invention and/or discovery which results as a consequence of their research activities by promptly providing to the appropriate administrative officer a report describing the circumstances under which the invention and/or discovery was conceived and/or reduced to practice, with particular attention to:

      1. naming the sponsor, if any, of the project or program;
      2. stating whether the invention and/or discovery is within the inventor's normal area of activities and responsibility within the University; and
      3. indicating the extent to which equipment or facilities provided by the University were employed in the work which led to the invention and/or discovery.
      4. Inventions made by faculty, teachers, staff, or University-employed students on their own time, outside the area of their normal activities and responsibilities, and without use of University resources are the sole property of the inventor. In all other cases the University acquires full or partial rights to ownership of the patent. In such cases, the University will endeavor to license or assign the patent in such a manner as to assure the greatest benefit to the public and to the University, and as to assure a fair return to the inventor. Specific agreements will be written in each case detailing the respective rights of the University and the inventor. Such agreements will be developed by the appropriate administrative officer.


      In the case of University-assisted materials, the University will ordinarily share royalty income with the author(s) of the material. In the case of University-assigned materials, the University may elect to share royalties with the author(s) but is not required to do so. In each specific case the written agreement developed by the appropriate administrative officer will specify the sharing of royalties, if any.


      University, upon request, will arrange to provide assistance to the author(s) or developer(s) in making this determination. In the event of a legal judgment arising from infringement of copyright or other legal rights, the University and the author(s) or developer(s) will share in the liability in the same proportion in which royalty income is shared.


      The agreement between Gallaudet University and the Secretary of Education related to the operation of Pre-College National Mission Programs (now known as the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center), dated November 17, 1995, states the following:

      1. Copyright

        The University may claim copyright to any copyrightable materials first produced in the course of activities described under this Agreement that are funded in whole or in part with Federal assistance. The Government shall have non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable, royalty-free rights to reproduce, publish and otherwise disseminate such materials, or allow others to do so for Federal Government purposes.

      2. Patent Rights

        1. The disposition of patent rights from activities arising under the EDA and this Agreement is subject to the provisions of the Bayh-Dole Act, as subsequently superseded by P.L. 98-620, and the implementing procedures, originally provided by OMB Circular A-124, as replaced by 37 CFR Part 401 (1992).
        2. In general, subject to the specific provisions of (a) above, title to any patentable idea conceived or developed shall vest in the University and will be subject to Board policy. The Federal Government will retain a non-exclusive, non-transferable, irrevocable, paid-up license to the invention to practice or have practiced on its behalf throughout the world. The University will disclose the invention to the Department within two months after inventor disclosure; within two years of disclosure to the Department, it will make formal election of title and so inform the Department; and the University will file an initial patent application within one year of election of title. The University recognizes that if appropriate procedures are not followed, the Federal Government may exercise its march-in rights and secure title for itself.
        3. At is option and sole discretion, the Department may undertake the defense of any patent dispute or challenge in light of its above license rights.
        4. It is noted that the aforementioned clauses may also apply in most cases to Federally sponsored grants and contracts at the University level.

Approved by: Gallaudet University Administration