Academic Freedom and the Courts
Law Quarterly Review, Vol. 126, pp. 347-351, 2010
Posted: 20 May 2010
Date Written: February 1, 2010
Recent events in the United Kingdom have focused attention on the protection at law of institutional and individual academic freedom. While such freedoms sit in tension, they share a basis in the liberal ideal of the pursuit of truth through teaching, discussion and research. It is a truism that this ideal is currently under threat, and with it academic freedom itself. The source of the threat is complex and varied, but includes changes in the economy, scientific research, and British higher education policy. One result of these changes has been what W R Cornish described in 1991 as “a rising determination to see how far the research conducted in institutions of higher learning can be turned to industrial account,” and a pressure on British universities to operate more as Technopolis than as Academe ( EIPR 13 at 13, 14). In the face of this pressure the question arises, what protection can academic freedom expect from the courts? Here I suggest that some indication may be gleaned from the decision in UWA v Gray  FCAFC 116.
Keywords: Academic Freedom, Intellectual Property, Patents, Copyright, Ownership, Universities
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