The PhD and Intellectual Property
It’s registration week! I’d been waiting for the email telling me to go into the Lancaster University site and make the move from “offer holder” to “full-time student.” Woot!
So nine screens of data later, as I’m happily uploading my (appalling) ID photo and giving my next of kin, I come to the final page, where I’m to tick a box (or not) about the intellectual property I create during my program. Not being the sort of woman who randomly ticks boxes, I go to the policy link to find out what this is all about. To my horror, I discover that the university routinely asks that the intellectual property (IP) that students create during their postgrad work be ceded to the institution. It can be published by the student, but the school will hold the rights and the student will pay the school a royalty.
Um. No. Deal breaker. Show stopper.
If anyone is getting royalties from the novel I write for this program, it’s going to be me.
I immediately went to my supervisor, and found out that this typically applies to science and business students. In fact, the school has a healthy stake in open learning and in spinoff businesses created by the smart people in its programs. All well and good.
For them. Not novelists like me. So all right, then. I can tick “No” in the box. But then, the policy gravely informs me, I can have my funding taken away and even be removed from my project.
More questions to the supervisor, and I am assured that the likelihood of this happening is very low. Since, you know, these are the very people who recommended me for the funding! So I went ahead and ticked “No” in the box and submitted my registration. Off it went. I now have an official school login and password. Come on, October!
Moral of the story: Read the policy. Ask questions. Never tick a box unless you know exactly what you’re agreeing to. Working with publishing contracts has certainly taught me that!