Copyright clearance procedures

Tim Greaves edited this page May 29, 2014 · 6 revisions
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Background copyright law

Under section 11 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, UK copyright belongs to the author of the work personally, unless the work is done in the course of employment in which case the copyright belongs to the employer. The situation for overseas institutions is likely to be very similar. For our purposes, this means that students personally own the copyright in the work they write while the copyright of staff of participating institutions is owned by the institution they work for.

Staff royalty rights

Even though staff do not generally own copyright in their work, staff at many institutions have a right in their employment contracts to a share of the royalties gained by their institution exploiting their work commercially. Since, the licensing terms of Fluidity impact on royalties (i.e. there aren't any) it is prudent to treat contributing staff as having a copyright interest.

Institution claims on student copyright

Some institutions claim to own the copyright of the work of their students. It is very unclear on what legal basis this claim is made. All student contributors should therefore be treated as having a copyright interest.

The Fluidity copyright model

Under the model of licensing which we use for Fluidity, contributors are not required to transfer or give up their copyright. Instead everyone with a copyright interest in the project grants a licence to everyone else to use, modify and redistribute the software. The particular licence we use is the GNU Lesser General Public License which allows for free modification and redistribution of our code provided that source code is also redistributed. Unlike the full GPL it has few, if any, restrictions on linking with proprietary libraries.

Under this model, it is necessary to obtain a letter consenting to the licensing of contributed code from everyone, individuals and institutions who could hold a copyright interest in Fluidity.

Consent letters

A page with a full list of received consent letters may be found here.

Consent letters should contain the standard form of words specified below. They should be forwarded to David Ham who will record them on the relevant wiki page and forward them for permanent filing with Imperial Innovations.

Individual copyright consent letters Individual contributors should provide a signed letter on the letter head of their institution with the following wording:

CONSENT TO COPYRIGHT LICENSING UNDER THE LGPL

I give my consent to the redistribution and/or modification of my
contributions to the Fluidity project under the terms of the GNU Lesser
General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation;
either version 2.1 of the License, or (at each distributor's option)
any later version.

Signed:
Print name:

Letter blanks for Imperial College members are available here. Contributors from other institutions are encouraged to contribute sample letters for their institutions.

Institutional copyright consent letters

Universities and similar institutions generally have a central commercialisation unit which usually has the sole power in the institution to sign copyright licences. PIs and heads of departments/faculties do not usually have the authority to sign copyright licenses. The appropriate authority needs to provide a letter with the following text:

CONSENT TO COPYRIGHT LICENSING UNDER THE LGPL

On behalf of name of commercialisation organisation I hereby give my
consent to the redistribution and/or modification of name of university
contributions to the Fluidity project under the terms of the GNU Lesser
General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation;
either version 2.1 of the License, or (at each distributor's option)
any later version.

Signed:

Print name:

Position: