The University of Alabama, Research & Economic Development

Copyright Policy

Unit:  Research and Economic Development
Contact: Lauren Wilson
Title:  Assistant Vice President for Research
Effective Date: 03/08/2022
Revision Date: 03/08/2022



The purpose of this Policy on Copyright (“Policy”) is to establish a mechanism, consistent with Title 17 of the U.S. Code, to serve the public benefit and interest, to disseminate scholarly work produced by employees of The University of Alabama (“UA”) and apprise all employees of relative rights and to provide for adequate reporting of Intellectual Property and copyright activities.


  1. The Vice President for Research & Economic Development (“VPRED”) is designated by the President to administer this Policy, with all powers delegated.  
  2. It shall be the policy of UA that the creation of copyrightable work by UA faculty, employees and students shall be owned by the creator of the copyrightable material unless the work is a work-for-hire as set out under the circumstances below. This Policy supersedes and replaces any and all Copyright policies upon its effective date.  This Policy is subject to all applicable laws, including, but not limited to, Title 17, United States Code.
  3. UA’s ownership of copyright in employee and student works shall be determined as set out below:
    1. Books, Articles and Similar Works, Including Unpatentable Copyrighted Material.  In accord with academic tradition, except to the extent set forth in this policy, UA does not claim ownership to pedagogical, scholarly, or artistic works, regardless of their form of expression.  Such works include those of students created in the course of their education, such as dissertations, papers and articles.  UA claims no ownership of popular nonfiction, novels, textbooks, poems, musical compositions, unpatentable software, or other works of artistic imagination which are not institutional works and which did not make substantial use of University resources or the services of University non-employees working within the scope of their employment. 
    2. Institutional Works. UA shall retain ownership of works created as institutional works.  These works are considered "work for hire". Institutional works include works supported by a specific allocation of University funds or that are created at the direction of the University for a specified University purpose.
    3. Sponsored Agreements. Where copyrighted material is developed in whole or in part during the course of fulfilling sponsored research funded by an outside entity pursuant to an agreement approved by the Office for Research & Economic Development, ownership of the copyright will be determined by the applicable terms of the funding agreement.
    4. Patentable Works. Where a copyrighted work is also patentable, the UA Policy on Intellectual Property will apply to it, notwithstanding any inconsistent provisions in this Policy.
    5. University Assisted Works. When UA funds, makes substantial commitment of resources to, or makes expenditures of resources for a project, UA may be entitled to some recompense and/or an ownership share of any works created. A specific determination of "substantial resources," as well as the contractual details pertaining to the specific rights of the work and of the relationship between the author(s) and UA should be determined by the Vice President for Research & Economic Development (“VPRED”) and the Office for Innovation and Commercialization (“OIC”). This agreement should be in place before UA funds or UA substantial resources are expended.
  4. Disputes about interpretations of this Policy and procedures are to be referred to VPRED by the aggrieved party for resolution, with a provision to appeal his/her decision to the UA President.
  5. Employees shall report and disclose any copyrightable intellectual property or any University Assisted Works, with the exception of that reported in 3a above,  to OIC, designated by the VPRED, as the office responsible for the protection and commercialization of University Intellectual Property. OIC will establish operational guidelines and procedures, subject to the terms of this Policy and any related policy, for the administration of University Intellectual Property. Faculty members are not required to disclose works produced on their own initiative.
  6. As a condition of employment, each employee of the University is bound by these policies and agrees to cooperate with the University and its designated representatives in protecting and administering copyrights and patent rights owned by the University.
  7. The VPRED will seek feedback from the Faculty Senate Steering Committee in advance of making substantive changes to this policy.


  • Intellectual Property: intellectual goods, a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright or trademark, including, but not limited to know how, formulae, designs, drawings, procedures and methods, the creation of data or materials. 
  • Inventor or Creator: a person who creates a work or invents a particular process or device.
  • Substantial resources: extraordinary use of personnel, UA funds, physical resources.  This does not include the use of resources ordinarily available through libraries, equipment or personnel.


This policy applies to all UA employees including part-time and full-time staff and faculty, adjunct faculty, emeritus faculty, visiting scholars, and students including volunteer students, work-study students, and students that are UA employees.

Office for Research and Economic Development

Approved by Russell J. Mumper, Ph.D, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, 03/08/2022