University Research Council

November 13, 2003

Meeting Summary


Members of the University Research Council and representatives of the Office of General Counsel have revised the University’s Copyright Policy.  The full Council discussed and approved the revisions.  The policy now will be reviewed by the Provost’s Office, the Dean’s Council, and the Faculty Senate.

Overall, the policy more clearly delineates the rights and responsibilities of the faculty, students, the University, etc., than had the previous version.  The policy has been revised in the following areas:

·         It more clearly defines the rights of the faculty vis-à-vis the University.  The default position within the policy is faculty ownership of the copyright; previously, this position had not been well defined. 

·         Terms such as “works-for-hire”, “copyrightable works”, and “scholarly works” are now explicitly defined in an appendix.  The Copyright Committee, which will help adjudicate ownership disputes, also is now defined in the appendix.

·         References to potentially copyrightable material have been updated to include newer, technologically advanced media, particularly in areas related to classroom technology.


Fran Connell from the Office of Technology Management (OTM) discussed technology licensing at the University.  The Bayh Dole Act awards to universities ownership of inventions that are created via federally funded programs.  However, the Act requires universities to actively strive to license these inventions and retains for the government licensing rights in these inventions.  OTM coordinates the process through which licensing occurs.  A technology transfer committee evaluates the inventions to determine whether they are patentable.  The committee must determine whether the invention is novel, non-obvious, and useful.  In other words, a description of the invention cannot previously have been published, the invention should not be obvious to the average person with the inventor’s background and experience, and at least one specific use for the invention must be known.


The Department of Homeland Security’s Advanced Research Projects Agency is hosting a series of information sessions for industry and academia.  Representatives of the University are attending these events.

The University is a member of a consortium that addresses issues related to national preparedness.  This consortium, entitled the Keystone Alliance, includes Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, Carnegie Mellon University, and several private firms are working on issues related to fossil fuels.  They are focusing their efforts on the National Energy Technology Lab.

Bianca Bernstein from the National Science Foundation will visit the University of Pittsburgh on January 15 of next year.  She will be hosting a seminar for faculty from Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) is discussing how to address differences between social science research and medical research.  Social science research often minimally affects human subjects, so some of the reporting requirements potentially could be streamlined.