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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2005

Paul Jones Replies

The provision of technical production services does not give rise to intellectual property rights in traditional print publishing or in the multimedia environment.

Unfortunately, university and college administrators are using the fact that many multimedia projects receive such assistance as a basis to claim an ownership share. This is not done to reward the efforts of those who provide technical help, but to gain control of the work of academic staff.

When production contribution reaches the level of independent creativity that could sustain a claim to ownership under Canadian law, then it is appropriate that the rights of the individual making the contribution are recognized. But it is not appropriate that an administration parlay this work of others into a share of ownership for itself, as is often the case.

Administrations have identified the rise of multimedia works as an opportunity to determine the content of academic work, interfere with the freedom to publish, and separate faculty members from their courses as part of the broader effort to casualize teaching.

To rebuff this agenda, Dr. Anderson’s suggestion that academic staff master the increasingly accessible tools of multimedia production is good advice. More fundamentally, though, academic staff must resist unfounded employer claims of ownership rights in their creative works.

Paul Jones
CAUT Research & Education Officer