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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Adopts New Copyright Policy

The new UNC-CH policy, which took almost two years to write, outlines exactly what work and research can be claimed by students, faculty members and the University.

UNC-CH Chancellor James Moeser sent an e-mail to all students over the weekend informing them of the new policy. "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Professor (Lolly) Gasaway and our colleagues on the Copyright Committee for their diligent effort in producing this new Policy," Moeser wrote in the e-mail.

All UNC-system schools had until Aug. 1 to implement similar policies, created by individual campus committees, within the BOG's guidelines.

"The main part of the policy deals with ownership, not use," said UNC-CH law Professor Lolly Gasaway, who headed up the copyright committee.

The new policy replaces a less comprehensive version. "We didn't really have much of an old (policy)," Gasaway said.

By following a governmental application process, students can own copyrights on any of their independent works. The policy defines student works as "papers, computer programs, theses, dissertations, artistic and musical works, and other creative works made by University students."

But when students work with faculty, the agreement between UNC-CH and the faculty member prevails to determine ownership, according to Section V of the policy. Faculty research is generally the researcher's property, except when the University provides "exceptional use of University resources" or payment for the research, according to Section V. In these cases, UNC-CH can claim ownership.

Recently, copyright laws have become a hot topic on campus thanks to Internet file sharing programs such as Napster or Morpheus. But the legality of electronic file sharing is not specifically covered in the policy, Gasaway said. The subject was purposely left open to interpretation so future guidelines could be set.

Section IV of the policy states that " ... it is a violation of this Policy and law for University faculty, staff or students to reproduce, distribute, display publicly, perform, digitally transmit (in the case of sound recordings), or prepare derivative works based upon a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner."

But the policy also states that some material can be used without permission in accordance with the "fair use doctrine" of United States Copyright Law. Under this doctrine, limited amounts of certain resources can be used for education.

Nermeen Arastu, a freshman from Greenville, said she thinks students might produce better schoolwork if they become aware of the copyright policy.

She said, "If I knew something of mine could be copyrighted, it would motivate me."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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