Homework & Copyrights

An interesting observation when considering copyrights is the intellectual property ownership of works (assignments and homework) generated by school and university students, as it is generally accepted that whoever creates a work owns all intellectual property associated with it unless the “owner” in question gives up partial or all claim of ownership of said work. By definition, a copyright or a copyright license is the exclusive right given to the creator of a creative work to reproduce the work, usually for a limited period time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form.

When considering educational institutes, globally there are no major copyright laws or accepted guidelines which relates specifically to ownership of the exclusive copyright of works created by students, however it is understood that any work created by any individual regardless of age (or occupation) is owned by them (unless specified otherwise by the creator of said work). It should be noted that by this understanding of copyright laws, a teacher/lecturer doesn’t have ownership claim on any such student generated work unless they had made a substantial contribution to such work. Additionally, being a copyrighted, the educational institute and/or the lecturer/teacher in question must get permission from the student (owner) before reproducing or obtaining financial gain from this student-generated content.

To overcome this barrier, many higher education institutes and universities may request that the students assign their copyright over to the establishment when enrolling in said educational institute. An alternative method utilized by such institutes is extracting a royalty free licence for any works created as a condition of enrollment. It should be noted that in the absence of any such written agreement or contract, the copyright ownership remains with the student (creator).

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