Information for Faculty

What are my IP rights s an ECCAAUP member who teaches online courses?

ECCAAUP members at the College maintain the same rights they always have under the College’s IP policies. The College is not taking ownership of the syllabus, lecture notes, discussion questions, topic notes, presentations, screencasts, videos, assignments, grade feedback or images used in the course. For ease of use, we will refer to those as “Course Elements.” The College, in order to be able to manage its course offerings and promote student interest in the courses, owns the course descriptions, the overarching learning goals, and the organizational template, which we will refer to as the “Course Construct.” In addition, the College asks the faculty members to allow the College to use the faculty member’s name, likeness and biographical materials in connection with the courses. This means, for example, that the College would be able to use a photo of the faculty member in a catalog or website advertising the online courses. The College is not asking for exclusive rights in the faculty member’s name, likeness and biographical materials, only documenting the permission to use them.

Why is Emerson requiring an exclusive license to copy, transmit and offer the online course?

This is consistent with existing agreements and appointment letters stating that full-time faculty members only teach courses at the College while employed as full-time faculty. In addition, the College is funding the creation of the courses and providing the technological platform for their development and use to enhance the Emerson experience. It would not help demonstrate the value of Emerson coursework to have identical classes offered at other schools by the same or other faculty at the same time.

If I leave Emerson, can I use the materials developed under this agreement to teach a similar class at another institution?

You can absolutely use the Course Elements at a new institution. What the College will not do is provide the organizational templates, source code, or other backend technology. Some of this may not be the College’s choice, as the College may be subject to license requirements itself in using the platforms provided by third party companies. As noted above, the College owns the course description and learning goals. This is to ensure that the College has distinctive offerings and coherent programs for its students. 

Does the fact that the College owns the course description mean that I can never, for example, teach Introduction To English Literature elsewhere after I leave Emerson?

Of course not. It means that the particular way the course is described and fits into Emerson’s curriculum is specific to Emerson. It doesn’t affect the fact that you own the Course Elements.

What if I no longer want to teach the online course I created? Can Emerson just hand it over to another faculty member?

Emerson could certainly ask another faculty member to create a course with the same Course Construct. Emerson will not provide your Course Elements to another faculty member for use unless Emerson enters into an agreement with you that provides for such a transfer.

Emerson uses an online learning management system called Canvas for the technology to create and distribute the courses. Does Canvas have any ownership In my Course Elements?

Canvas has no ownership in your Course Elements or the Course Construct.

Is Emerson currently using a comprehensive third party provider to develop online degree programs, including to market and promote courses?

Emerson is working with the provider 2U on Speech@Emerson, which is a specific degree program offering an MS in Communication Disorders.

What governs the rights and obligations of faculty members teaching in degree programs offered with third party providers?

Those rights are set forth in contracts negotiated with the faculty members’ unions, where applicable.

Why do I have so many restrictions on content I post, such as films for screening?

Those restrictions arise from U.S. copyright and internet law. In some instances, the rules for online distribution and viewing differ from those that govern in-person displays of particular content. This is not a trivial issue because movie studios, record labels and book publishers have vigorously prosecuted their rights in federal courts. Accordingly, we know that there is significant risk in violating the laws. For example, defending a lawsuit would be burdensome, time-consuming and costly. So the rules and procedures are there to help you and your students comply with the law.