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Maintained by Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

Tips on Creating and Maintaining an Educational Web Site

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Tip 2: Determine Intellectual Property Ownership

If you intend to build a large educational web site, make sure you know who will own and control the site before you begin constructing it. Some academic institutions lay claim to any web sites that reside on their web server (a "server" is the computer that serves up web files). Other schools treat web sites in much the same way they treat textbooks written by their faculty, exerting little or no claim of ownership, royalties, or editorial control. Still others have no intellectual property policy governing the Internet. In the latter case, a faculty member who creates a valuable web site might later be faced with a claim of partial or full ownership by the institution (for example, the school might draft a policy in which web sites cannot be freely transferred if faculty members leave the institution).

At my institution, faculty members retain full ownership of their web site as long as the site does not consume an unusual amount of computing resources. If, in the opinion of the computing center, a web site crosses this line, then the faculty member is notified and given the option to (a) scale back the use of resources, (b) move the web site from the university server to a commercial service provider, or (c) negotiate a joint ownership arrangement with the university. In my view, this type of arrangement is ideal because it encourages faculty innovation while protecting the institution from an undue depletion of computing resources (for further discussions on intellectual property, see Marchant, 1996; Rosenoer, 1996). Regardless of the arrangement at your own institution, however, the main point here is to know the intellectual property policy before you invest a serious amount of time creating an educational web site.

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