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Discovery January/February 1999

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PATENT CORNER by Becky Mahurin

MSU is very active in distance learning. The Burns Telecommunications Center (BTC) has taken the lead and is creating excellent course work to be delivered off site. It is essential that MSU retain ownership of the materials created for such courses, so that we may deliver the courses and change and update courses as needed. Ownership of course work is an issue that is gaining national attention as more universities are getting into the distance-learning business.

Some of the courses prepared for BTC are created under grant sponsorship. If the course was developed as a deliverable under a grant which provides that the grantee, MSU, retain ownership, then it is clear that MSU has the necessary rights for the course. Alternatively, a PI may need to provide a specific "work-for-hire" contract to all individuals who participate in developing a course. Such a contract will address ownership of specific pieces of work.

The proposal clearance form has been revised by the Grants and Contracts Office to reflect the importance of this issue. You will see a new question on the form that addresses whether distance learning materials or software will be developed under the grant for which you are applying. As you answer this question, you may find it necessary to talk with either Kim Obbink, Director of the Burns Telecommunications Center, 994-6550, or myself, 994-7868.

Becky Mahurin
D
irector of the Technology Transfer Office at MSU.

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