I'm a professor. what are my intellectual property rights? do all students have the legal right to tape my lectures?
I'm a professor. What are my intellectual property rights? Do all students have the legal right to tape my lectures? I'm concerned that audio and video tapes of me teaching will end up on the internet, phrases will be taken out of context, etc. I teach human sexuality topics, so I have plenty to be concerned about.
Generally as a professor your employer owns and controls your intellectual property. Persons who are employed to think, create, invent and teach as all or part of their scope of employment generally relinquish all their intellectual property rights to their employer. It is part of the quid pro quo of employment. An employer provides salary, benefits, equipment, facilities and other types of support for research, thinking and creativity. In return the fruits of that labor belong to the supporting employer. The types of activities and properties that belong to your employer are not just inventions but class notes developed by the employee, lectures performed by the employee and class materials developed by the employee. The details of your intellectual property rights are probably spelled out in your employment agreement with your university or college. This agreement probably stipulates that not only does your employer own the intellectual property that you create but obligates you to execute any documents required by your employer in pursuing these intellectual property rights (e.g. declarations, assignments, and the like). In addition, you likely also have an ongoing obligation to cooperate with your employer in their pursuit of securing these intellectual property rights (e.g. you may later be required to sign further documents, provide a deposition, make yourself available for questions, etc.) This is common.
Do wiretap laws come into play? I don’t know about your state but in many states, consent by both parties to a recorded conversation is NOT required. If only 1 party knows of the recording, that is enough to put the recording party in the clear.
Most likely your employer owns all the intellectual property rights associated with your employment including your lectures. Whether the students can record these lectures will likely hinge on your employers policy with respect to student recordings.
Note that even if your employer allows recording of your lectures, that permission is not the same as an assignment of rights. Your employer would still own the rights to your lectures and a student who records is not then free to copy, distribute or otherwise use this recording outside the scope of the permission granted by the employer. Most likely your employer limits use of student recordings to personal, educational, and non-profit use.
Also note that an employee generally gives up intellectual property rights associated with the scope of their employment. Works created not on an employer’s time, using employers resources are the property of the creator. So for example, a university professor teaching and studying in the field of optics, generally relinquishes all ownership of intellectual property rights with respect to optics. But if on his weekends, this professor also writes musicals, the professor is the owner of the copyright in his musicals.
Hope that is helpful.
Posted over 8 years ago
Lori Hardaway, PharmD, PhD, Esq
Licensed in California and District of Columbia
Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For formal legal advice, hire a lawyer (many give a free first consultation).
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