Re: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC

Joe Touch (touch@ISI.EDU)
Tue, 12 Jan 1999 15:58:07 -0800 (PST)

> From Tue Jan 12 15:09:14 1999
> Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 18:10:07 -0500 (EST)
> To: Joe Touch <touch@ISI.EDU>
> Cc:,
> Subject: Re: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC
> From: (Kragen Sitaker)
> On Tue, 12 Jan 1999, Joe Touch wrote:
> > > Subject: Re: Student Patent Policy at Caltech and UC
> > >
> > > The copyright policy of UC says different:
> >
> > Sure - the point, even as evidenced by the UC policy, is
> > that ownership lies with the Univ. It is _their_ right
> > to confer it back to the student.
> >
> > Were it not their right, they wouldn't need a policy.
> Where did you study copyright law? You might consider referring to the
> Copyright FAQ.

I did - that's where I got the info.

As with all law, this depends highly on the situation.
A GRA is "work for hire", as defined below. In that case:

"WORK MADE FOR HIRE: If a work qualifies as a work made for hire, the
company is the author for purposes of copyright, and copyright initially
vests in the company. A work is a work made for hire under either of two
circumstances. First, if it is a work prepared by an employee within the
scope of employment. Second, if the work was specially commissioned, is
one of a short list of relatively esoteric types (a contribution to a
collective work, a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, a
translation, a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional
text, a test, answer material for a test, or an atlas), and the parties
agreed in writing that it was to be considered a work for hire. 17
U.S.C. 101."

In the case of classwork, the more general rules appear to apply (there
was nothing specific I could find therein regarding classwork). In general,
"he who creates gets the right to copyright." However, it is also arguable
who creates the result of an assignment - the instructor is at least
partially responsible, depending on the nature and specificity of the
assignment. The FAQ continues to say that copyright rests with the owner
excepting in cases where it is explicitly conferred in writing (which the UC
policy appears to be doing).

Did I misread or skip over an important section of the FAQ that
applies in this case?