Academic Freedom and Rights to University Teaching Materials: A Comparison of Swedish, American and German Approaches
41 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 10, 2016
This article explores the issue of the ownership of teaching materials from a comparative law perspective, the legal systems invoked being Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. The ownership of teaching materials has become a more compelling question as teaching materials become more digitalized and more easily rendered into commercial assets. A shift in approach by certain educational institutions with respect to this issue of who owns the rights to teaching materials has been underway during the past decade. As teaching materials have become more and more digitally packageable and reproducible, to the extent of even having virtual classrooms, the issue of ownership now takes on different legal as well as financial values.
The ownership of rights to teaching materials touches upon several different areas of law: employment law, labour law, contract law, constitutional law, academic freedom and intellectual property rights law, and to date is not definitively resolved either in custom, agreement or by law in any of the three jurisdictions chosen. The conclusion here is that given the interests involved, the integrity of authors as well as the academic freedom of teachers, a constitutional approach transcending the employment and labour law approaches needs to be taken to guarantee the greatest amount of academic freedom. The directed work approach is found to best balance the different interests involved.
Keywords: Copyright, patent, teaching materials, teacher exception, professor privilege, academic freedom
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