Copyright Policy

University Policy 315, Copyright Policy

Executive Summary: 

Reviewed by the Staff Organization and approved by the Faculty Council at one of its last meetings of the 2000-2001 academic year, this policy was developed in accordance with the UNC Board of Governors’ comprehensive new policy on copyrights. It establishes the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee and a copyright dispute resolution mechanism. In addition, the policy provides guidance on copyright infringement and fair use. Finally, it establishes parameters for ownership of various types of copyrightable works by faculty, staff, and students. This policy is subject to modification as the result of further discussion with the Faculty during next year.  Additionally, the Provost will call for a review of the policy after two years of operation under its terms.

I. Introduction.

II. Scope and Coverage.

III. Creation and Duties of the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee and the University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels; Consultation to the Chancellor.

A. Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee.

B.   University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels

C.  Consultation to the Chancellor.

IV. Use of Copyrighted Works by Faculty, Staff and Students

A. Infringement.

B. Fair Use.

V. Copyright Ownership.

A.  Works Created by Faculty or EPA Non-Faculty Employees.

B.   Works Created by SPA Staff Employees Considered Works Made for Hire. 

C. Works by Independent Contractors.

D. Student Works.

VI.  Works Subject to Both Copyright and Patent Protection.

VII. Dispute Resolution.


I.          Introduction.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is dedicated to its mission of instruction, research, and service. It is the policy of this University that its faculty, staff, and students carry out their scholarly work in an open and free atmosphere, and that consistent with applicable laws and policy they publish the results of such work without restraint.  To those ends, and in order to effectuate provisions of the Copyright Use and Ownership Policy of the University of North Carolina, this Copyright Policy is adopted.

II.        Scope and Coverage.

This Policy applies to the faculty, staff, and students of the University.  Compliance with the terms of this Policy is a condition of employment for University faculty and staff, and of enrollment for University students.  This Policy is supplemental to the Copyright Use and Ownership Policy of the University of North Carolina, and is subject to any applicable laws and regulations and to specific provisions in grants or contracts that govern rights in copyrighted works created in connection with sponsored research.

III.       Creation and Duties of the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee and the University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels; Consultation to the Chancellor.

A.        Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee.

(1)        Composition.

The Chancellor and the President of the Faculty shall jointly appoint a standing committee of the faculty, designated as the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee, to serve as the faculty’s consultative committee to the Chancellor on copyright education and policy and to carry out the duties in Section III(A)(2) below.

(2)        Duties.

The Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee shall have such responsibilities as the Chancellor may specify, including but not limited to the following duties:

(a)     Assistance in the provision of resources to and education of faculty, staff and students about the Fair Use Doctrine and other copyright matters.

(b)      Advising the Chancellor regarding implementation of the Copyright Use and Ownership Policy of the University of North Carolina and this Policy, including proposal of such amendments to this Policy as the Committee may consider necessary.

B.        University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels

(1)        Composition.

The University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels shall be authorized by the Chancellor on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis, and shall be composed of current full-time members of the UNC Charlotte faculty or staff as follows:

(a)    One member of the Panel shall be selected by each party involved in the copyright dispute.

(b)   An additional member of the Panel shall be selected by the members of the Panel selected under III(B)(1)(a) above and shall be deemed the Chair of the Panel.

(2)        Duties.

Under procedures specified in Section VII below, the University Copyright Dispute Resolution Panels shall have the duties of hearing and resolving: 

(a) Disputes between or among members of the faculty or staff involving copyright ownership;

(b) Disputes between or among members of the faculty or staff and a department chair or director of an administrative unit involving determinations of exceptional use of University resources or Directed Works (as defined in Section V(A)(3)(a) below); and

(c) Such other disputes related to copyright matters as may be authorized by the Chancellor.

C.        Consultation to the Chancellor.

In addition to the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee serving as the consultative committee to the Chancellor as set forth in Section III(A) above, the UNC Charlotte Staff Organization shall serve as the consultative group to the Chancellor on copyright education and policy as they relate to SPA staff and EPA non-faculty employees.

IV.       Use of Copyrighted Works by Faculty, Staff and Students

A.        Infringement.

Except as allowed by law, it is a violation of this Policy and law for University faculty, staff, or students to reproduce, distribute, display publicly, perform, digitally transmit, or prepare derivative works based upon a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner. 

B.        Fair Use.

(1)        Permissible Use.

Under United States Copyright law, the “fair use doctrine” allows certain specified uses of a copyrighted work without requiring prior permission of the copyright owner under certain circumstances.  As stated in theCopyright Use and Ownership Policy of the University of North Carolina, the University supports “the responsible, good faith exercise of full fair use rights, as codified in 17 U.S.C. § 107, by faculty, librarians, and staff in furtherance of their teaching, research and service activities.” 

(2) Elements of Fair Use; Good Faith Consideration Required.

University faculty or staff who propose to make fair use of a copyrighted work must consider in advance the applicability of four statutory factors to be weighed in making a fair use analysis.  These factors are:

(a) The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(b) The nature of the copyrighted work;

(c) The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(d) The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

University faculty and staff must apply these four factors and make a good faith reasonable fair use determination before using a copyrighted work without permission.

(3) Assistance in Making Fair Use Determinations.

The Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee, together with the Office of Legal Affairs, shall issue and as necessary revise guidelines to assist University faculty, staff, and students in making fair use evaluations. Faculty, staff or students who require assistance with fair use questions related to their University work should consult the Office of Legal Affairs.  Upon request, the Office of Legal Affairs will make a determination whether a specific proposed use constitutes fair use, and the University will defend such determinations.

V.        Copyright Ownership.

Ownership of copyright in copyrighted works by faculty, staff, or students shall depend on the category of the work in question and on the status of its creator(s). 

A.        Works Created by Faculty or EPA Non-Faculty Employees.

(1)        Traditional Works or Non-Directed Works.

(a) Definition.

Traditional Works or Non-Directed Works are pedagogical, scholarly, literary, or aesthetic works by faculty or EPA non-faculty employees resulting from non-directed effort. 

(b) Ownership.

(i) The creator of such a work shall own the work unless it is a Traditional Work or Non-Directed Work Involving Exceptional Use of University Resources, a Directed Work, a Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work requiring University ownership of copyright, or a Work for Hire (as those terms are defined below).  As a condition of employment, faculty and EPA non-faculty creators of a Traditional or Non-Directed Work shall be deemed to have granted the University a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to use the work for the University’s own non-commercial educational or research use. For the purposes of this Policy, “educational” use means use for the purpose of offering regular academic course credit through a UNC Charlotte academic department. Such license includes the right to make derivative works. The original or a derivative work will credit the creator as author unless the creator requests that he or she not be credited upon timely written notice to the Chancellor.

(ii) Traditional Works or Non-Directed Works for which authorship cannot be attributed to one or a discrete number of authors but instead result from simultaneous/sequential contributions over time by multiple authors who are faculty or EPA non-faculty employees shall be owned by the University. 

(c) Commercialization; assignment to University.

 Where a University faculty or EPA non-faculty creator of a Traditional or Non-Directed Work desires assistance from the University in commercializing the work, the creator shall report the work to the Office of Technology Transfer using such forms and procedures as that Office shall establish, and if in its discretion it agrees to accept the work for commercialization, the Office of Technology Transfer shall be responsible for commercializing the work.  If the University is to be involved in commercializing a Traditional or Non-Directed Work, the creator shall assign the work to the University under an Assignment Agreement, which shall include provisions outlining the commercialization responsibilities of the University and a mechanism for the sharing of commercial proceeds with the creator. 

(d) Allocation of Commercialization proceeds.

Where the Office of Technology Transfer agrees to accept the work for commercialization, the creator’s share of proceeds shall be negotiated between the creator and the Office of Technology Transfer on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the nature of the work and the creator’s contribution, the prospective market conditions for the work, the anticipated level of effort and resources required for commercialization, and other commercially reasonable factors.  Unless otherwise directed by the Chancellor or a designee, two-thirds of the remaining proceeds from commercialization of the work shall be allocated to the creator’s department, and one-third to the Office of Technology Transfer. 

(2)        Traditional Works or Non-Directed Works Involving Exceptional Use of University Resources.

(a) Definition

Exceptional use of University resources occurs when the University provides support for the creation of the work with resources of a degree or nature not routinely made available to faculty or EPA non-faculty employees in a given academic department or administrative unit. Use of University resources is presumed not to be exceptional unless a department chair or director of an administrative unit informs the faculty member in writing before such resources are allocated that such use is exceptional. If the creator of the work disagrees with the determination that the use of University resources is exceptional, he or she may submit a request to the Chancellor that the matter be referred to a Copyright Dispute Resolution Panel as set forth in Section VII below. It shall be the obligation of the department chair or head of an administrative unit to establish that a proposed use of resources is exceptional by reference to the practices of the department or unit. 

 (b) Ownership. 

Traditional Works or Non-Directed Works Involving Exceptional Use of University Resources shall be owned by the University.  

 (c) Release to Creator. 

With agreement of the department chair or director of the administrative unit as defined above, the Director of the Office of Technology Transfer may release or transfer the University’s rights in a Traditional Work or Non-Directed Work created through exceptional use of University resources to the work’s creator through an appropriate written agreement. 

(d) Release Agreement.

Any agreement for release to a creator of a Traditional Work or Non-Directed Work created through exceptional use of University resources shall include provisions that: 

(i) The University shall have a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to use the work for the University’s own non-commercial educational or research use, including the right to make derivative works, provided that “educational” use means use for the purpose of offering regular academic course credit through a UNC Charlotte academic department, and that the original or a derivative work will credit the creator as author unless the creator requests that he or she not be credited upon timely written notice to the Chancellor; and  

(ii) Upon commercialization of the work either (a) the creator shall reimburse the University for the exceptional resources provided the creator, or (b) the creator shall share income from such commercialization with the University, in an amount to be negotiated between the creator and the Office of Technology Transfer.  Proceeds from commercialization shall be allocated as provided in Section V(A)(1)(d) above.

(e) Selection of release options; appeal.

The Director of the Office of Technology Transfer, in consultation with the creator’s department chair or unit head, shall determine which of the options available under Section V(A)(2)(d)(ii)above to be selected in conjunction with the release of such a work to its creator.  Disputes regarding whether a work has been created through exceptional use of University resources shall constitute disputes regarding ownership to be resolved under the dispute resolution procedures specified below.  However, decisions regarding financial terms made under Section V(A)(2)(d)(ii) above shall not be subject to appeal under this Policy.   In the event that the creator and the University are unable to reach agreement regarding such financial terms, ownership of the work at issue shall remain with the University.

(f) Joint ownership.

In addition to the foregoing provisions for release to the creator of a Traditional or Non-Directed Work involving exceptional use of University resources, the University through the Office of Technology Transfer in consultation with the creator’s chair, and the creator may alternatively negotiate for joint ownership of the work.  In such case either party will be allowed to use and exploit the work without accounting to the other, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

(3)        Directed Works.

(a) Definition.

Directed Works are works that are specifically funded or created at the direction of the University. For a work to be considered a Directed Work under this Policy, a department chair or head of an administrative unit must inform the faculty or staff member in writing in advance of its creation that the work is a “Directed Work.” Such funding need not constitute exceptional use of University resources in order for the work to be considered a Directed Work. Directed Works shall also include works created by faculty, staff, or students in an institute, center, department, or other unit that, with approval of the Chancellor, has adopted rules providing that copyright in materials prepared by such faculty, staff, or students in the course of their professional work or in the course of study with that unit vests in the University and not in its creator. 

(b) Ownership. 
The University shall own copyright in Directed Works.  Where practicable in the estimation of the creator’s chair, and subject to any additional terms or limitations made necessary by University licensing agreements, the creator shall be granted a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to the work for the creator’s own non-commercial educational or research use.

(c) Release. 
The University may release or transfer ownership in a Directed Work to the creator.  

(d) Release Agreement.

Any agreement for release to a creator of a Directed Work shall include provisions that:

(i) The University shall have a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to use the work for the University’s own non-commercial educational or research use, including the right to make derivative works, provided that “educational” use means use for the purpose of offering regular academic course credit through a UNC Charlotte academic department, and that the original or a derivative work will credit the creator as author unless the creator requests that he or she not be credited upon timely written notice to the Chancellor; and/or

(ii) Upon commercialization of the work either (a) the creator shall reimburse the University for the resources provided the creator in conjunction with creation of the work, or (b) the creator shall share income from such commercialization with the University, in an amount to be negotiated between the creator and the Office of Technology Transfer.  Unless otherwise directed by the Chancellor or his designee, two-thirds of the proceeds from commercialization of the work shall be allocated to the creator’s department, and one-third to the Office of Technology Transfer.

(e) Selection of release options; appeal.

The Director of the Office of Technology Transfer, in consultation with the creator’s chair, shall determine which of the options available under Section V(A)(3)(d)(ii) above will be selected in conjunction with the release of such a work to its creator.  Disputes regarding whether a work is a Directed Work shall constitute disputes regarding ownership to be resolved under the dispute resolution procedures specified below.  However, decisions regarding financial terms made underSection V(A)(3)(d)(ii) above shall not be subject to appeal under this Policy.   In the event that the creator and the University are unable to reach agreement regarding such financial terms, ownership of the work at issue shall remain with the University.

(f) Joint Ownership.

In addition to the foregoing provisions for release to the creator of a Directed Work, the University through the Office of Technology Transfer in consultation with the creator’s chair and the creator may alternatively negotiate for joint ownership of the work.  In such case either party will be allowed to use and exploit the work without accounting to the other, unless otherwise agreed in writing.

(4)        Sponsored or Externally Contracted Works.

(a) Definition.

A Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work shall be any copyrighted work developed using funds supplied under a contract, grant, or other arrangement between the University and a third party, including a sponsored research agreement.

(b) Ownership.

(i) Unless the agreement expressly requires copyright ownership by the University or conveyance of rights to a third party, the creator of a Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work shall own the work.  As a condition of employment, faculty and EPA non-faculty creator-owners of a Sponsored or Externally Contracted work shall be deemed to have granted the University a perpetual, non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to use the work for the University’s own non-commercial educational or research use.  For the purposes of this Policy, “educational” use means use for the purpose of offering regular academic course credit through a UNC Charlotte academic department. Such license includes the right to make derivative works. The original or a derivative work will credit the creator as author unless the creator requests that he or she not be credited upon timely written notice to the Chancellor.

(ii) The University will own a Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work where the relevant agreement requires copyright ownership by the University or conveyance of rights to a third party, in which case the University will convey rights to the third party as required.  In such cases the creator of the copyrighted work shall be required to report the work to the Office of Technology Transfer, using such forms and procedures as that Office develops.  Where a proposed sponsored research agreement or research grant will require that copyrighted works be owned by the University or a third party, the Office of Research Services should inform the relevant Principal Investigator of the copyright provisions and secure his or her consent to such provisions before the agreement is signed or the grant accepted.

(c) Release.

Sponsored or Externally Contracted Works owned by the University may be released to the creator or jointly assigned to the creator and the University, through the procedures mandated for Directed Works, where the University has ascertained that such release will not conflict with the terms of the relevant agreement or grant, or with written consent of the other party to the agreement or grant. 

(d) Disclosure.

If an agreement under which a Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work is created addresses copyright ownership, then the disclosure terms of that agreement control. If an agreement under which a Sponsored or Externally Contracted Work is created is silent on copyright ownership, then the creator must disclose the existence of the work prior to any commercialization of that work.  Disclosure shall be made in writing to the creator's department head and dean (or other supervisor, if applicable). Any questions on commercialization may be addressed to the Office of Technology Transfer.

B.        Works Created by SPA Staff Employees Considered Works Made for Hire. 

(1) Definition.

For purposes of this Policy, a “work made for hire” is:

(a) A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment; or

(b) A work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

(2)        Ownership.

Works made for hire by SPA staff shall be owned by the University.  Exceptions to University ownership may occur where

(a) The University with written approval of the Chancellor or a designee enters into an agreement with an SPA employee in advance of creation of the copyrighted work specifying that the work shall be owned in whole or in part by the employee;

(b) University ownership is waived by the Chancellor or a designee; or     

(c) The SPA Staff creator is an author or co-author of a Traditional or Non-Directed Work, but only to the extent necessary to allow the SPA Staff creator to assign rights to academic publishers for publication made with no more than nominal consideration to the creators.

C.        Works by Independent Contractors.

Each University unit or department entering into arrangements for work to be produced by an independent contractor must execute a written contract, signed by an authorized University official, which includes a provision that the University shall own copyrighted works produced by the independent contractor. Any exceptions must be approved by the appropriate vice chancellor or designee.

D.        Student Works.

(1)        Definition.

Student Works are papers, computer programs, theses, dissertations, artistic and musical works, and other creative works made by University students. 

(2)        Ownership and Use.

(a) Students retain ownership of copyright in their Student Works; provided however, that as a condition of enrollment the student shall be deemed to have granted the University a non-exclusive, perpetual, world-wide, royalty-free right and license to reproduce and publicly or privately display, distribute or perform each Student Work for the University's own non-commercial educational purposes. The University's right and license in this paragraph is subject to the student’s privacy rights under federal law.  Other exceptions may be granted when the student offers the work to the Office of Technology Transfer for commercialization.

(b) Student Works created in the course of the student’s employment by the University shall be considered Works Made for Hire, and ownership and use of such works shall be as specified inSection V(B) above.

(c) As a condition of enrollment at UNC Charlotte, Student Works that constitute notes of classroom and laboratory lectures and exercises shall not be used for commercial purposes by the student generating such notes.   

VI.       Works Subject to Both Copyright and Patent Protection.

Where an invention is subject to protection under both patent law and copyright law, if the University through the Office of Technology Transfer determines to retain title to its patent rights, the inventor/creator shall assign copyright to the University.  On commercialization of such works, the inventor/creator shall be compensated only in accordance with the provisions of the University of North Carolina Patent Policy and the UNC Charlotte Patent Policy and such procedures as may be developed thereunder. The Office of Technology Transfer may on its own initiative investigate whether a copyrighted work reported to it may also be subject to patent protection.

VII.     Dispute Resolution.

A.        Jurisdiction.

Any University faculty or staff employee or student may seek resolution of a dispute regarding ownership of a copyrighted work governed by this Policy, including a dispute over whether use of University resources is an exceptional use, by filing a written request with the Chancellor.  Upon receipt of such a request, the Chancellor shall authorize the creation of an ad hoc Copyright Dispute Resolution Panel, composed pursuant to Section III(B)(1) above.

B.        Conduct of Hearing.

The Copyright Dispute Resolution Panel shall conduct a hearing into the matter or may make a recommendation based upon the written record, provided that all parties to the dispute are given an opportunity to present evidence and arguments in support of their respective positions.  Each party shall provide the other party with a copy of any written materials submitted to the Panel simultaneously with submission of such materials to the Panel.  Any hearing will be conducted following procedures set forth by the Panel or promulgated by the Faculty Copyright Education and Policy Committee. No party shall have the right to be represented by counsel before the Panel, but any party may be accompanied at a Panel hearing by an adviser of his or her choosing, who shall not participate in the hearing, but who may provide advice and assistance to the party he or she accompanies.

C.        Disposition.

Each Copyright Dispute Resolution Panel shall report its findings and conclusions to the Chancellor in writing, along with a written recommendation for disposition of the matter, within forty-five days of authorization of the Panel by the Chancellor.  Provided, however, that for good cause the Chair of the Copyright Dispute Resolution Panel may extend the time period for such report by not more than an additional thirty days.  Copies of such findings, conclusions, and recommendation shall be provided to all parties.  On receipt of such findings, conclusions and recommendation, the Chancellor shall issue a written decision in the matter.  The Chancellor’s decision shall be final.

Revision History: 

Initially approved June 1, 2001

Authority:  Board of Trustees

Responsible Office: Academic Affairs

Related Resources:

UNC Policy 500.2, Patent and Copyright Policies