The administration's new proposal on faculty intellectual property rights, now up for review by the University community, strikes us as a fair and effective response to the copyright challenges posed by new technologies. Both the decision to act and the action taken are commendable. Currently, faculty members have full rights to any books or other publications they produce on University property and through the use of basic University facilities. The new policy would extend those protections to written lecture content, software codes and other research projects. In other words, it extends a policy that has worked well for old media to the realm of new media. In doing so, the policy recognizes that at its core, copyright laws aim to protect the right of an individual to benefit from his or her own ideas. Changes in the means of dissemination, made possible by the Internet, should not affect ownership of content, and we are pleased to see Penn recognize that principle. At the same time, the University has appropriately asserted its copyright over property produced with the use of significant University resources. Though ambiguous on its surface, the policy requires that Penn reach a copyright agreement with each faculty member before providing special support of any kind, thus ensuring fairness. In both respects, the policy represents a common-sense approach to the issues raised by the proliferation of technology. By recognizing the time-tested nature of existing copyright structures and adjusting as needed, Penn has created a policy we encourage faculty to support.Comments powered by Disqus
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