North Carolina Community College System
Intellectual Property Policy
For the Virtual Learning Community
(Approved by NCCCS State Board 11/17/00)
The Virtual Learning Community (VLC) is the collaborative initiative of the
State Board of Community Colleges and the participating community colleges to
share resources and expertise for the purpose of expanding access to quality
online courses and support services. Consequently, the purpose of this
intellectual property policy is to define the rights and responsibilities of all
employees and institutions within the North Carolina Community College System
(NCCCS) in their use of or contribution to the courses and materials of the
Virtual Learning Community. This policy does not address online courses or
materials developed for individual college use.
Community Course: Any course developed for or provided to the VLC that is housed in the central library of VLC courses and is available to all VLC members. Synonymous with "core course." Does not include modifications made by individuals at colleges after the course is downloaded to local file servers.
Core Course: Any course developed for or provided to the VLC that is housed in the central library of VLC courses and is available to all VLC members. Synonymous with "community course." Does not include modifications made by individuals at colleges after the course is downloaded to local file servers.
Core material: Any material developed for or provided to the VLC that is housed in the central file server and is available to all VLC members. Does not include modifications made by individuals at colleges after materials are downloaded to local file servers.
Developer: Developers are community college employees who make a substantial intellectual contribution to the creation of core courses and/or materials for the VLC.
Direct and Significant Allocation of Institution Resources: Includes but is not limited to staff time, equipment, funds, release time from assigned duties, and computer usage. Also, a requested and approved allocation of resources not normally available to all members of an employee’s unit.
Distance Learning Council: Committee appointed by the NCCCS president and made up of representatives from the community colleges that is charged with identifying and recommending policies for distance learning.
Fair Use Guidelines: Limitation on the exclusive rights of the copyright owners that allows others to use copyrighted materials in certain situations. Educators may use portions of copyrighted material if four conditions exist: use of material is educational in nature, work is published, copied material is an excerpt or portion of the whole and not a substantial part of the work, and use of the work will not hamper marketability.
Intellectual Property: All components of core courses and core materials developed for or provided to the Virtual Learning Community including course design, course content, data generated, developer training materials, and student support materials.
Ownership of Copyright: All developers and contributors to the VLC are required to sign a "work for hire" agreement granting to the State Board and participating colleges, collectively, ownership rights to the core courses and core materials.
Works Made for Hire: A form of intellectual property ownership under the Copyright Act. The two categories of works for hire are (1) works prepared by employees within the scope of their employment and (2) works that have been specifically ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work. These include works created through a direct and significant allocation of institution resources to a specified project and work created under a sponsorship/contractual agreement. Under these terms, the work of VLC developers of core courses and core materials is work for hire.
Virtual Learning Community: An initiative of the State Board and participating colleges to share resources and expertise to develop a comprehensive online educational program with all resulting courses and materials available equally to participating community colleges.
Virtual Learning Community Steering Committee: A 12-member board of college
presidents selected regionally by their peers and charged with overseeing
development of the Virtual Learning Community.
All individuals and institutions that develop or use materials and/or data
created by or generated for the Virtual Learning Community are subject to this
Ownership of Intellectual Property and Data
The State Board and participating community colleges, collectively, own all intellectual property that is made, discovered, or created for the VLC by an individual or group of individuals specifically hired or commissioned for that purpose.
Included as intellectual property for the purposes of this policy are:
Course developer training materials
Student support materials.
Not included as intellectual property for the purposes of this policy are:
Intellectual property incorporated into the course or materials neither owned nor licensed by developers.
Intellectual property made, discovered, or created by enrolled students.
Content not designed or maintained by the developers.
Third-party plug-in readers used to access embedded or hyper linked files
Improvements, revisions, or customizations to VLC courses or materials made by individuals not specifically hired or commissioned for that purpose.
Improvements, revisions, or customizations made to a downloaded copy of the core course or materials used within the instructor's home institution.
To enhance VLC content, the State Board and participating institutions may pursue the acquisition of rights, either by transfer of full copyright ownership or by limited license, to intellectual property that was not contracted on a work-for-hire basis for that purpose. This includes modifications made to core courses that add value to VLC courses as determined by representatives of participating colleges.
Rights of Use and Responsibilities
Participating institutions of the NCCCS enjoy the exclusive right to use and modify the content of core courses and core materials created for the VLC to suit the specific needs of their students. Core courses and core materials will be available for use by other state institutions at no cost. This core material is not available for use outside of the NCCCS or by other state institutions without express permission of the State Board and a majority of participating colleges.
Modifications or customization of these core courses and materials are owned by the authors creating them or by their employing institutions, in accordance with local policies. Owners of these modifications reserve the right to assign, transfer, and convey their right, title, and interest in the modifications to a third party at their discretion provided that this action does not compromise the interests of the State Board and participating colleges in the VLC.
Authors creating these modifications are responsible for the accuracy of the content of these revisions. Further, they and instructors using the modifications are responsible for following any appropriate guidelines and policies established by their employing institutions, all provisions of this intellectual property policy, and any other pertinent guidelines and policies published by the NCCCS. In addition, they must adhere to all applicable administrative regulations and laws of the State of North Carolina and any national or international laws, treaties, and conventions enacted by or ratified by the United States of America.
Potential Future Commercialization
Ownership and the use of this intellectual property may not be transferred, licensed, or sold without the approval of the State Board of Community Colleges and a majority of participating colleges.
If support for commercialization is evident, the VLC Steering Committee will coordinate the decision-making process via the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents.
Should the decision be reached to proceed with commercialization, the Distance Learning Council in conjunction with the VLC Steering Committee will oversee the development of guidelines for commercialization, including the disbursement of monies generated to participating colleges. These guidelines will be approved by the Virtual Learning Community Steering Committee, the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents, and the State Board.
All such guidelines and processes must adhere to applicable policies of the State Board and state and federal laws and regulations.
The core course or core material developer will ensure that the courses and materials created by the developer are original except for such materials from copyrighted sources that are reproduced with the written permission of the copyright holder; that the courses or materials will in no way constitute a violation of or an infringement upon any copyright belonging to any other party; that the courses or materials will contain no information previously published or copyrighted by the developer unless such information is noted in the course or material; and that the course or material will contain no matter which is libelous or in any way contrary to law.
Dispute Resolution and Emerging Issues
The Distance Learning Council has authority to resolve disputes regarding this intellectual property policy or to respond to emerging issues. The Distance Learning Council may either act as a group of the whole in dealing with relevant issues or it may appoint an ad hoc committee, chaired by a member of the Distance Learning Council, with broad-based community college representation to address these issues. Final authority to resolve any and all matters resulting from this policy is vested in the State Board of Community Colleges.
As an employee of a college of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS), I agree as follows:
I have read and understand the Virtual Learning Community (VLC) Intellectual Property Policy, and I agree to abide by its terms.
I assign, transfer, and convey all contributions I have made to the VLC to the colleges, collectively, that participate in the VLC.
To the best of my knowledge, the work that I provide is original and there are no third party claims against it.
Signature Signature of Witness
This page maintained by Kathy Davis.