LIDA103 Copyright and ownership of learner generated ideas

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Join the discussion on the ownership of student work reliant on the inputs and support of educational institutions.

  1. Do you think there are grounds for institutions to assert copyright over student work? If so, provide examples and justify your reasons.
  2. How do you feel about others sharing copyright and/or intellectual property rights over your creative work as a learner?
  3. What are the impacts of ownership and copyright over learner work as they relate to the quality of learning?


I do not think institutions have a right over student’s work. Students pay fees and institutions are funded by the tax payer. Any output should be put out to the public domain as long as the student agrees. The creator must be protected. The helplessness of seeing your intellectual property removed from an institution you pay to attend has got to be demoralizing for a student and not encourage further education nor creativity.


I agree - I think students should retain copyright over their own work. In the case of OERu, we encourage learners to use a CC-BY license for comments and interactions on our platforms (the default license in our TORs) which give permissions for using the content on our systems. However, students retain ownership of their copyright.


Hi Colleen, I’m going to challenge your point for the sake of argument. MIT’s policy is similar to that of a lot of work places where copyright is held by the employer and not the employee. I’m not saying I’m for or against this practice, but rather that this is a consistent practice. That is if you consider that the student is being treated like an employee provided with grant funds (salary) and resources (found in the “work environment”). The policy does go on to say “MIT does not assert rights to a student’s thesis if it was authored without sponsored research funds and without significant use of MIT-administered facilities/funds.” This means that students who are self-funded and using their own materials can retain the copyright on whatever materials they produce. Considering these points, I’m curious as to what you think.

I’m also curious about how you would respond to the second stimulus question from the “Ownership” section:

Would it be fair and reasonable to consider joint ownership (i.e. institution, educator and learner) of the intellectual property in the event that the idea is commercialised?

I would add to that question by asking what proportion of the profits should go to the institution, the educator, and the student, and why?