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Expanded Copyright (self-paced course)

Self-paced course for faculty and staff to learn the aspects of copyright law that affect higher education. It's intense - if you want something lighter, please go to the Intro to Copyright videos on Learnscape.

Your Copyright

Learning Objectives for this Module

After going through this module, you will be able to:


  • Understand that upon the creation of a copyrighted work that is not a work for hire, the copyright belongs to the authors and co-authors jointly, and that all must consent to any transfer or license of the copyright. Explain what constitutes an author or co-author, as opposed to a contributor.
  • Define a work for hire as a work created by an employee (or contractor) whose copyright belongs to the employer. 
  • Understand that regardless of employment with or support from SUNY Empire, an author's scholarly and creative works are never works for hire.
  • Understand that faculty and staff who create content as part of their employment contract or performance plan, are creating that content as a work for hire.
  • Understand that when faculty or staff create a work for hire, they may get their supervisor's permission to put the content into the Creative Commons, and that SUNY Empire encourages supervisors to grant such permission unless there is a compelling reason that it would be contrary to the long-term interests of the institution, SUNY, academia and scholarship, or the public good.
  • Understand that the SUNY Board of Trustees have determined that faculty who create academic content (courses) are the copyright owners of that content, unless their employment contract or letter of agreement supersedes that, and that they must consult those documents and possibly HR or the Union to determine which pertains in a specific case.
  • Understand that faculty or staff may sign letters of agreement that specify the copyright ownership and certain permissions of the content that is subject to that letter of agreement.
  • List the conditions under which copyright is transferred to someone else. 
  • Understand that when publishing a journal article, it has been traditional for the author(s) to transfer the copyright to the journal; however that is no longer universal or necessary. 
  • Understand that if author(s) desire to keep their copyright when they publish, they must negotiate that with the publisher or journal, and that in some cases, that may cost them some money. 
  • Explain that it is desirable for authors to archive their articles and related material (e.g. data, interviews) in repositories where the public can access them for free, and that in order to do so, authors must either own their copyright or else secure permission from their publisher. 
  • Explain that it is sometimes desirable for authors who own the copyright to many kinds of content to put it under an open license (certain kinds of Creative Commons licenses), which not only makes it free, but also makes it so that the user can keep and share copies, and create derivative works without having to ask permission or pay royalties.