Intellectual Property Policy


Columbia College is committed to providing an educational environment that supports and encourages the discovery and development of knowledge, learning and research for its students and employees. The purpose of this policy is to provide information and guidelines generally applicable to intellectual property at the College and to set forth the rights and responsibilities of the College and members of the College community.


This policy applies to all members of the College community.


"College community" as used herein includes all College students, faculty, staff and other employees.

"Intellectual property" is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to, inventions, discoveries, copyrightable material, works, patents, trademarks and trade secrets.

"Works" as used herein are original works of authorship that have been fixed in a tangible medium of expression, including but not limited to, master syllabi, books, articles, artwork, music, software, traditional or electronic correspondence, and online instructional materials that are likely to be subject to protection under United States copyright law.

"College resources usually and customarily provided" as used herein includes, but is not limited to, such support as salary or compensation, office space, library facilities, ordinary access to computers and networks, including Internet access, course syllabi, packets, or pages, and other resources that permit College employees to perform tasks defined in their job descriptions. Unless approved in writing as an exception, this does not include use of students, contractors, or employees as support staff, or substantial use of specialized or unique facilities and equipment, or other special support provided by the College.

Copyright Infringement

All members of the College community are expected to and are responsible for complying with copyright law and all laws governing intellectual property. This policy includes the prohibition of copyright infringement, which is the act of violating any of a copyright owner's exclusive rights granted by the federal Copyright Act. Copyright infringement includes the non-permissive or unauthorized use or duplication of a valid copyright or copyrighted materials absent any exceptions for permissible use, such as fair use. Copyrighted materials may be used in certain circumstances where a license or authorization for such use has been previously secured from the copyright owner.

The College also prohibits unauthorized file sharing by members of the College community. This includes a prohibition on using any College resources or networks for authorized file sharing. In the file-sharing context, downloading or uploading parts of a copyrighted work without permission or authority can also constitute infringement.

Consistent with the College's prohibition on copyright infringement and illegal file sharing, individuals who engage in these activities subject themselves to severe penalties. Penalties for copyright infringement can include civil and criminal penalties. In general, individuals found liable for civil copyright infringement may be ordered to pay either actual damages or statutory damages set at not less than $750.00 and not more than $30,000.00 per work infringed. For willful infringement, a court may award up to $150,000.00 per work infringed. A court can also, at its discretion, assess costs and attorneys' fees against the infringer. Willful copyright infringement can also result in criminal penalties, including imprisonment of up to five years and fines of up to $250,000.00 per offense. For more information about copyrights and infringement, please see the website of the U.S. Copyright Office, particularly the FAQs section.

Individuals are encouraged to report potential incidents of copyright infringement or unauthorized file sharing to Technology Services at 573-875-7353 or as soon as possible. The College will investigate reports and take actions reasonably calculated to stop prohibited or unlawful conduct. Consequences for violations of this policy include up to termination of employment and student dismissal.

Ownership Rights of College Employees

The College does not assert copyright ownership in works that are created as a part of a College employee's independent research or scholarship and that are developed without resources usually and customarily provided by the College. As long as College employee does not make use of College resources beyond the degree necessary to carry out his or her normal job duties, the College does not assert copyright ownership in works that are the product of the employee's sole efforts and are not related to an assigned duty and are not created pursuant to a written job description, employment agreement, or other agreement or contract with the College.

The College does not own rights to an invention that results from activities unrelated to a College employee's job duties or responsibilities where the invention is developed without resources or facilities usually and customarily provided by the College.

The College retains a non-exclusive, no-cost license to use, reuse, reproduce, display, distribute, and make derivative works (such as compilations, archives, or composite works, etc.) of instructional materials for the education of its students. Instructional materials may include, but are not limited to, syllabi, course descriptions, reading lists, assignments, slides, lab exercises, tools, simulations, multimedia, web pages, exams, students assignments, and recorded discussions.

Ownership Rights of the College

The College asserts copyright ownership in (1) works that are created with substantial use of College resources; (2) works for hire; and (3) works created subordinate to other agreements.

  1. Copyright ownership belongs to the College for works created with substantial use of College resources, (including, but not limited to, grants, contracts, awards made to the College by extramural sponsors, etc.) that are not usually and customarily provided to College employees.
  2. Copyright ownership belongs to the College in situations of works for hire. Works for hire are typically created by College employees - or third parties - pursuant to a specific direction or assigned duty from the College. These specific duties may include requests that a faculty member develop labs, case studies, or other curricular material to be used by members of a department or the College. Examples also include course descriptions written for the course catalog and works created in the course of an administrative assignment, e.g., committee reports.
  3. Copyright ownership belongs to the College pursuant to the terms of a specific contract or agreement. This situation can occur in instances of sponsored research, other agreements or in instances that impose other obligations that necessitate College ownership in works that are developed in the course of or pursuant to such contracts or agreements.

Ownership of original works created by College employees that exceed requirements of a job description can be negotiated between the creator and the College prior to creation of the work.

Absent a specific written agreement, the College owns the rights to all other intellectual property created or developed, in part or in whole, with the assistance and/or use of College resources usually and customarily provided by the College to members of the College community.

Ownership Rights of Students

Works completed by students as employees of the College as part of an assigned duty are owned by the College. Work done by students who are paid for the work, whether or not the students are employees, are also owned by the College. Works created by students for the College's administrative purposes are owned by the College. The College retains a non-exclusive, no-cost license to use, reuse, reproduce, maintain, and display student created works.

Determination of Ownership

The College shall determine ownership of intellectual property consistent with this policy.

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