Back in my university days, when we were the final year students, our biggest problem in lives used to be making of Final Year Project that has to be both innovative and functional. Some expert programmers and developers actually did manage to do that yet they couldnâ€™t sell their work because university has clear cut policy that university projects are solely their right and cannot be sell to industry unless youâ€™re doing a sponsored project for a corporation. Back in those days it made sense that any project done for academic purposes using university facilities belongs to university.Recently I came across an article â€˜Whose IP is it anywayâ€™ that made me think should university have the right to own your work?
There was a recent controversy about the controversy around the American gaming institute DigiPen Institute of Technology and four graduate students lead by Zach Aikman. These students developed award winning game in 2008 and were approached by several publishers yet they couldnâ€™t sell the game because it was owned by their university so they decided to sell play mechanics but they were banned by their university to do that. University has the complete right on art, assets, codes and IPs and they refuse to make an exception in their case as well, according to Aikman words which are quoted from here.
“We knew the school owned the copyright on all the art, the assets, and the code, but you can’t copyright play mechanics. So, after we graduated, we began talking about taking the game concept and starting from scratch with different code.”
DigiPen was not amused and reiterated its claim toÂ allÂ intellectual property developed at the school, including derivatives of such work:
They were dead set on not setting a precedent because, if they let us keep the IP, they were afraid other students would want the same. But I believe there’s something wrong with the idea of DigiPen owning games it has no intention of doing anything with, while discouraging people like me who could really make use of our efforts and use it as a springboard to a career.
It’s like going to an art school and creating a painting while you’re there. Does the school own the art that took so much of your time and effort? I don’t see why the same thing shouldn’t apply to games.
His words had me all nodding my head and agreeing to he said but during my research for this article, I came across the strong defensive approach by Comair, the founder of DigiPen.
Our policy, which has been our policy since day one and which is laid out in our student agreement, is very clearâ€”everything that is done within the school and presented as homework or as a product to be judged by a teacher ends up being the property of the school. IP, code, artwork, everythingâ€¦..Students come to DIT to learn and get the most out of their education, not to ship a game they created at school for profit. We are a school, not a production house, and therefore our goal is for the students to gain the knowledge and experience they need to be successful in the field. We may lose students based on our IP policy, but this is not as important to me as is maintaining the quality of the education.
I don’t agree on this but I can see his point of view. There is a heavy discussion already going on, those who are interested in can check this and this. Itâ€™s not like my verdict will solve this issue but still I like to make one anyway, students at least have some of the rights of their product if not all because its their hard work and creativity that lead to create such good products and university tools are just tools that facilitate their creation so its their right to retain at least half of ownership. What do you say?