By EMILY FEATHERSTON, News Editor
The faculty senate voted Monday to send proposed changes to Samford’s intellectual property policy back to committee for significant revision. The policy will also be sent to the academic affairs committee.
The policy, provided to the Crimson by business affairs and faculty welfare committee chairman Jennings Marshall, addressed Samford’s use of faculty and student work created at the university or using university resources. It also covered ownership of patents for discoveries made by faculty, students or staff.
“We felt it was appropriate and timely to update our intellectual property policy to fit current times,” Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Harry B. Brock, III said.
Brock said the intellectual property policy has not been updated since the 1990s, and the university felt new language was needed to keep up with changes in technology and higher education. Jennings said the policy was originally introduced by Brock and Lisa C. Imbragulio, the assistant vice president for business and financial affairs and general counsel.
For students, the policy primarily addressed the university’s rights to use, display, distribute or perform any creative or scholarly work created to satisfy a university course credit.
The policy would give the university a “nonexclusive, royalty-free license” to use student works for educational purposes. The use would be considered a standing agreement, and would remain in effect unless written notice to the contrary is given to the student from the university.
“It’s only two sentences, but it’s pretty comprehensive,” chemistry professor and values council member Brian Gregory said before the vote.
For faculty, the policy would give the university irrevocable, royalty-free license to use works created for use in university courses. The policy also covers any discovery made during research done at or associated with the university that leads to a patentable invention.
“We feel it is a fair and reasonable policy for both the university and faculty and students,” Brock said.
Several professors expressed concern with the language of the policy before the vote Monday.
“Overall, the policy has the potential to change the climate of the institution,” communication studies professor Charlotte Brammer said.
Both Gregory and Brammer said they were also concerned that the policy would violate 17 U.S.C § 106, the fair-use guidelines of U.S. copyright law.
Junior communication studies major Analeigh Horton spoke to the faculty senate Monday to express these and other concerns of the student honor committee.
“We understand that Samford, despite its non-profit mission, must include aspects of business to maintain all of its programs,” Horton said in her speech to the senators.
“However, making this decision will make it seem more commercial than ever and will cause it to lose the personal touch that Samford students and faculty appreciate so much,” she said.
Brock said that the university’s intention is to use works in an educational way that “shows off” exemplary student and faculty work.
“We’re not looking to create conflict, but simply to preserve a privilege to use in an appropriate fashion,” Brock said.
Senate chair and pharmacy professor Erika Cretton-Scott said that the policy will return to the business affairs and faculty welfare committee to address the comments and concerns. It will also go before the academic affairs committee to address concerns that are primarily about teaching or students.
Cretton-Scott said she encourages students to contact members of the committee to express concerns about the policy. These members include Arts & Sciences representative Malia Fincher (email@example.com), Pharmacy representative Valerie Prince (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Education representative Peggy Connell (email@example.com). A full list of faculty senators can be found at www.samford.edu/facultysenate.