Calls for intellectual property agreement

March 12, 1999

The Association of University Teachers wants a "fairer" agreement on intellectual property rights between academics, employers and publishers.

The union has drawn up a draft "model agreement" and hopes it will win the support of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals.

It wants to ensure that academics "maintain control over their work to the greatest extent reasonable and practicable. They should retain copyright on material produced during the course of their duties ... and be strongly encouraged in all cases to license rather than assign their copyright to publishers."

The draft agreement says intellectual property rights to any invention produced in the course of an academics' employment should belong to the employer but be "subject to an obligation on the latter to exploit it or assign it back to the inventor, and to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with the inventor". In addition, the AUT would like an agreed arbitration procedure to resolve disputes.

Paul Cottrell, general secretary of the AUT, says the proposals are "not about putting all the money accruing from IPRs into our members' pockets. It is important institutions benefit also. What we would like to see is a more consistent approach across the university sector based on an accurate knowledge of current legislation."

A spokesman for the CVCP said: "Neither the CVCP nor the AUT is in any position to impose this agreement on any institution. What the CVCP may be able to do, depending on its final conclusion about the proposals, is to either commend them wholly or partly to institutions."

But Mr Cottrell believes if the CVCP and AUT were able to agree on the proposals, it would send "a powerful signal" to institutions on the need for a national framework.

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