Ownership and use of intellectual property created by UAB employees, including faculty (which includes Credentialed Course Instructors), are governed by the University's Patent Policy and Copyright Policy. In addition, use of intellectual property may raise issues under the UAB Enterprise Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy, which applies to all faculty and staff. The list of frequently asked questions below are designed to address some commonly occurring concerns of faculty members as well as other paid teaching instructors. The following are provided as guidance but the actual policy remains the definitive source for guidance.

Who owns the copyright in materials created by faculty?

The copyright in materials created by an employee depends upon the nature of the employee’s efforts relative to UAB, specifically the extent of university resources used, whether the materials were assigned to be prepared by UAB, and whether the materials were developed with support from an outside sponsor, all as described in the Copyright Policy and in the questions and answers below.

Does the term “materials” include distance learning materials?


Are there any circumstances under which I can require UAB not to use materials that I have created?

Yes, but not where you have been assigned or directed to create the materials by UAB. See “University assigned efforts” in the Copyright Policy. You also may not be able to stop UAB from using materials you created when you developed the materials during work supported partially or in full by an outside sponsor through a contract or grant with UAB. See “Sponsor supported efforts” in the Copyright Policy.

What if I was not specifically assigned or directed to create the materials, but I used some UAB resources?

If your use of UAB resources was “substantial,” then you may not stop UAB from using the materials, and UAB would have “shop rights” to use them as described in the Copyright Policy. “Substantial use” is defined in the Copyright Policy to include the commitment of staff, faculty or material support in the creation of the materials, but does not include the ordinary use of the University’s libraries, faculty time, faculty offices, departmental office equipment, routine secretarial support or University owned personal computers.

If I must share my rights in materials with UAB, what is the extent of UAB’s rights?

As described above, UAB has the right to use materials created by you where you were assigned or directed by UAB to create them, you created them as part of a grant or contract between UAB and an outside sponsor, or where you used substantial UAB resources. UAB’s rights here are called “shop rights.” As defined in the Copyright Policy, “shop rights” means a non-exclusive, non-transferable, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, or make derivative works of your materials, for educational or research purposes only. See “Shop Rights” in the Copyright Policy.

What if I created materials in which UAB would not have shop rights, but used them in a UAB course?

UAB would have “shop rights” in the materials as described above.

May I use materials I have created at another institution while still employed or otherwise engaged or teaching at UAB?

Generally, no, except for scholarly presentations. Consult with your supervisor.

What about after I leave UAB?

Once a faculty-creator is no longer employed by UAB, he or she may make use of lectures that he or she created while employed at UAB for his or her own scholarly, non-profit, non-competing purposes.

What are some examples of materials in distance learning in which UAB would have” shop rights” and be permitted to use as described above?

  • Digital productions or reproductions of course lectures.
  • Other course content (such as digital slides, digital presentations, class assignments).
  • Materials prepared with significant assistance from eLearning or from UAB videographers.

What are examples of course materials created by faculty that are likely to violate UAB’s conflict of interest or conflict of commitment policies?

  • Accepting employment outside of UAB, for the purpose of creating online or other teaching materials without written approval of your chair or other supervisor.
  • Creating online teaching materials (for example, course lectures) for a course intended to be taught outside of UAB that the faculty member might reasonably be expected to teach while at UAB, without written approval of the appropriate chair or other supervisor.

Can faculty use the UAB brand on courses and/or course materials they own and, as permitted, teach elsewhere?

No. Faculty may not use UAB trademarks or other identifying designations without the prior written consent of the University on courses or course materials they teach elsewhere.

When should faculty and the University sign an agreement or contract indicating ownership rights of a course, course module, or course materials intended to be distributed online?

Whenever there is any ambiguity regarding the ownership of intellectual property in which University resources are being used, a written agreement designating who will own the intellectual property must be entered into before the creation and/or development of the material in question.

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