Copyright and creative work produced by faculty

Volume 27, Issue 4
April 2017

Urszula Kosecka, Professor, School of Health Sciences


Understanding copyright, and the rules pertaining to the usage of different information resources, is an essential aspect in academic education. Copyright matters are regulated by the Copyright Act of Canada, released in 1921 and amended multiple times. The last amendment from 2012, Bill C11, introduced exceptions to copyright infringement pertaining to educational purposes (clauses 23-27). At Humber College, the rules for the application of copyright legislation are found under a larger topic of intellectual properties in the document Intellectual Property Policy (IPP), from 2013.

As faculty, we have to deal with three different sides of copyright issues. First, we need to ensure that we obtain and use our course materials in alignment with copyright legislation. Second, we need to ensure that our students are educated and properly equipped in copyright knowledge while in school and in their future professions. And third, as academic professionals, when we create new works in the form of lecture notes, books, online courses, etc., we need to ensure that our copyright as individual creators is protected.

As faculty, we are often unclear how to handle situations in relation to creative work that we produce. Obviously, any copyright expectations need to follow the existing legislation and, in Humber’s environment, also the institutional policy. As stated in Article 13 of the Academic Employees Collective Agreement, creative work remains the property of the college, if the work was commissioned by the college or mutually agreed upon. Other works produced by the employee remain the property of the employee.

Questionable situations arise when college managers assign creative work to faculty, with the allocation of limited or no time allocation. As per Humber’s IP Policy, the employer’s copyright obligation towards employees is not proportionally related to compensation. Effectively, it is the responsibility of faculty to negotiate specific copyright conditions for their creative work performed for the college. Faculty can be reimbursed for creative work done as per project (which is common practice with external consultants) or they can have time assigned on their SWF. The number of hours or the pay rate for each project should be agreed between faculty and the institution. In reality, negotiations often do not occur; instead, faculty are requested to produce creative work without the opportunity to negotiate for time allocation.

If you have any questions about the assignment of creative work, you may contact the Faculty Union Office. For any clarifications about Humber’s copyright policies, you may contact the Library or Research Office.