College Provost Susan Baldridge announced in an all-College email on Jan. 23 that in September, the Board of Trustees had unanimously approved an Intellectual Property (IP) policy that will address the legal ownership of all academic and creative work produced by members of the Middlebury community. In addition, Baldridge announced the formation of an ongoing IP committee that will be charged with regularly evaluating the policy, receiving feedback and proposing revisions.
“Prior to September, Middlebury did not have an intellectual property policy, which was a problem,” Baldridge said in an email to the Campus. “A policy was needed in order to clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of those in our community doing intellectual, creative and innovative work.”
Baldridge expects the new policy to help sustain the work of students, faculty and staff, stressing that the policy “assigns rights to the institution only in cases where there is a significant investment of institutional resources or where the institutional identity is clearly implicated.” Baldridge also noted that the policy treats the work of these three groups equally, which she finds “consistent with Middlebury’s innovative spirit.”
Another of the policy’s strengths, according to Associate Provost for Digital Learning Amy Collier, is that it “approaches Intellectual Property in a conversational way, rather than as a prescriptive legal document.” This approach, she said, arises from Middlebury’s cultural emphasis on “the merits of negotiation and good faith judgement by IP creators.”
Collier will serve as chair of the IP committee, which will be composed of faculty and staff from various segments of the institution. In that role, Collier said, “I encourage conversations about IP scenarios among the Committee members and include them on any inquiries and communications we receive from members of the Middlebury community.”
Overall, Baldridge said, the policy will have few noticeable effects, “since ownership of the vast majority of creative work will remain with the creator by default.” That said, the College “will be highlighting the new policy for those seeking significant funding from Middlebury, and will reach out to individuals when we believe questions about IP might be relevant to work they are doing.”
The full IP policy and committee membership can be viewed at go/ippolicy.