Hi, Sally -
My response would be very simply that requiring someone to deposit their dissertation online does not equate a transfer of copyright. It is no different from asking students to submit a printed copy for binding and deposit in the library. This faculty member is equating online access with "giving it away for free," which is a fallacy.
Scholarly Communication Librarian
[log in to unmask]
From: etd-l Discussion List [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sally R. Evans [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 3:12 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: question about copyright
Here at George Mason University, our Graduate Council has agreed to go forward with making ETDs mandatory (after offering them as an option since 2007). They voted to do so last September; we're currently trying to craft an embargo policy; and we hope to make them fully mandatory in the Fall 2013 or Spring 2014 semester.
We are still in the early phases, and we will be having a panel discussion about ETDs and embargo next Thursday, January 26. We've been publicizing this event, hoping to reach as many graduate students and faculty as possible. We've already begun to receive questions about the aforementioned issues, and a question about copyright has come up that I'm not sure about. I'm hoping to get some input from you.
One faculty member contacted a member of the Provost's office and said, in an email,
University Copyright policy is VERY clear that copyright in their own writings is the property of the students, NOT the university. (I am quite sure of this, as I led the team of university administrators and faculty who rewrote the copyright policy to clarify this matter among other things.)
In my view, therefore, a university mandate for electronic publishing of anything a student writes, including a dissertation, constitutes an uncompensated "taking" of the student's property and violates the student's ownership rights.
When your universities instituted mandatory ETDs, or when you were in the process of transitioning to them, did you have any issues with copyright, specifically regarding or related to this faculty member's question? If so, how did you resolve it? Do you have any advice or input regarding the above concern?
Any guidance, advice, or assistance would be appreciated.
Sally R. Evans
University Dissertation & Thesis Services
George Mason University