Intellectual property

Carleton grad students discuss rights

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

In light of several cases involving copyright infringement at various universities, the Carleton Graduate Students’ Association is working to inform graduate students about their intellectual property rights and what to do if those rights are violated.

Copyright infringement occurs when a professor plagiarizes work or research or if a student doesn’t receive authorship for their work.

A guide produced by the Canadian Association of Graduate Students states: “the law grants intellectual property rights to all creators... Irrespective of their status at a university or research institution... Students have intellectual property rights and rights to protection under the copyright and patent regimes.”

However, universities often have their own policies and rights may be shared with a supervisor, fellow students and research staff.

Stephen Sims, associate dean of Western’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, said intellectual property rights vary between disciplines.

“Arts and music tend to give exclusivity to the creator, whereas science taking place in more collaborative settings [divides] it,” Sims said.

Oren Howlett, association president of the CGSA, said he and his peers hope to have the guide created by September.

“There is a huge influx of graduate students coming to Carleton, just like Western, and so many of them will be unfunded,” Howlett said. “Many will accept [research assistant] positions for professors and we want to make sure they’re not taken advantage of.”

Howlett said CGSA also hopes to host an intellectual property seminar during orientation week to ensure students are properly informed about the subject.

Sims said intellectual property rights are usually more of an issue for graduate students because they’re often seen as equal players at the table. However, he said it can happen both ways; students sometimes take work from their advisors.

Sims isn’t aware of any such situations occurring at Western. He said the university is ahead of the game.

“Western is currently working on a policy document that will describe the rights and responsibilities of students.”

"with files from Matt Vens

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