Alert: UIC May Assert Rights Over Online Course Materials

11 Sep Alert: UIC May Assert Rights Over Online Course Materials


  • Intellectual Property Rights NOT Guaranteed: Admin has refused to extend IP protections on remote course materials being prepared for spring 2021.
  • Course Prep Support May Trigger Rights Transfer: According to policies shared by Provost Poser, accepting course-builders, ION training, or a stipend may all be conditions conferring licensing rights to UIC after fall exceptions end on Dec 31, 2020.
  • Strike Updates: SEIU/INA art build is Friday, 9/11/20. INA pickets begin Saturday, SEIU pickets begin Monday. Email us at to get involved.


Dear UIC Faculty,

We write today to express our growing concern that the UIC administration may seek to assert ownership and/or licensing rights over online course materials developed for spring classes. We strongly advise you at this time to refuse any ION or Course-Builder assistance, or planning stipends, for spring course prep until assurances are made that you will retain all ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Faculty are, by the university’s general rules (Article III) and via our contract (Article VII.G), entitled to full ownership of traditionally copyrightable academic works, including lectures and lesson plans. However, this right may be considered forfeit if you create materials as a specific requirement of employment, or make use of resources beyond what is usually provided by UIC. The administration has made clear in contract negotiations and general communications that they believe the acceptance of ION training, Course Builders, or a course planning stipend, would all be qualifying events allowing them to take ownership and licensing rights to your work.

Provost Poser reinforced this principle in communications to faculty on August 5th, where she shared an interim policy explicitly stating these conditions as conferring rights to the university, while exempting them temporarily for the fall semester. Despite repeated calls to do so, and with the deadlines to enroll in ION courses or ask for Course-Builder assistance approaching on October 1st, the administration has refused to extend these exemptions.

At a time when UIC is actively exploring expanded licensing deals with third party online education providers, we find this failure to reassure faculty on ownership rights to be provocative to say the least. Their insistence on language giving them licensing rights to faculty course materials appears to be a grave threat to our intellectual property, and possibly to the integrity of our work in the long term.

If you are considering accepting course-builder assistance, ION training, or a planning stipend, especially to prepare for large asynchronous classes, we encourage you not to agree to anything without written assurance protecting your intellectual property and licensing rights to those course materials. Short of such written assurance, we must assume that it is the university’s intention to claim said rights and use those course materials as they see fit, with or without permission of the faculty member.

If you are being pressured or forced to accept such assistance, contact us ASAP, and as ever, please email us any questions at

UIC United Faculty


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