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sharperguy
November 27th, 2007, 11:28 PM
Hey all.

I am doing Advanced Higher Computing in my last year of high school.

As part of the course, I need to do a project.

I intend (and have begun) to create a program in c++/gtkmm which helps people create RSS files for blogs and podcasts.

I will probably want to keep working on this after I send it away because I intend so use it myself, and also my friend requested I wrote a program like this (which is why I chose it for my project).

The problem is, I recently learned that the school owns the copyright on everything I create in school. I was also hoping to GPL the code.

I have done research into GPLing programs, and have taken all necessary steps but one:



You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your
school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program, if
necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names:

Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
`Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

<signature of Ty Coon>, 1 April 1989
Ty Coon, President of Vice


This seems to make sence, but I'm not sure of, A - How, and more importantly, who to approach on this; and B - What to do with the disclaimer after I obtain it.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Am I crazy?

DoctorMO
November 27th, 2007, 11:58 PM
The disclaimer is only required if you signed over all your rights to creations when you entered the school/business.

I'd never enter such an organisation that required such pervasive restrictions.

mssever
November 28th, 2007, 01:32 AM
I think that it depends on the precise language of whatever agreement you (or your parents if you're still a minor) may have entered into. If there was no agreement signed, then I can't imagine that your school really owns the copyright. But, I'm not a lawyer.

jflaker
November 28th, 2007, 01:47 AM
Generally speaking, the organization that owns the system the code was created on also owns the code unless a contract was signed previous to any code being created. Such a contract will sometimes exist between an organization and a contract programmer where the programmer is allowed to take the code they create with them for use elsewhere without impunity.

Unless the school has a written policy on computer code, specifically, you should be able to take the code and do with it what you like as this would be akin to keeping your graded homework or tests as the computer code IS schoolwork. AND, what a better way to show that you have learned well than by using your education to create a useful product for others to use.

wolfbone
November 28th, 2007, 03:51 AM
The problem is, I recently learned that the school owns the copyright on everything I create in school.

Well if that's true - and even legal - it's backwards. It's normal in business for the employer to own the copyright of work done by employees, contractors etc. But in this case you are, effectively, the school's employer. You're certainly not a contractor or employee working for the school.

Suppose your parents decided to purchase some home tutoring for you. Would the private tutor(s) own the copyright in any work you did? I don't think so.

sharperguy
November 29th, 2007, 03:13 PM
Well if that's true - and even legal - it's backwards. It's normal in business for the employer to own the copyright of work done by employees, contractors etc. But in this case you are, effectively, the school's employer. You're certainly not a contractor or employee working for the school.

Suppose your parents decided to purchase some home tutoring for you. Would the private tutor(s) own the copyright in any work you did? I don't think so.

It depends on the contract with the home tutor.

Yeah maybe it's just UK law but I'm pretty sure the school owns the copyright.

It's probably required for parents to sign a thing saying that its ok.

I don't know how that affects me now because I am legaly old enough to make my own decision.

Tomosaur
November 29th, 2007, 03:19 PM
Tell your school that you never entered into any contract and that you want the copyright.

That, or just say you did the work on your home computer...

tgalati4
November 29th, 2007, 04:14 PM
This sounds like a juicy argument for the Free Software Foundation. They will provide free legal advice in this situation. Why don't you investigate their services and post back the final outcome? You have certainly got our attention on this issue.

wolfbone
November 29th, 2007, 08:27 PM
It depends on the contract with the home tutor.

Yeah maybe it's just UK law but I'm pretty sure the school owns the copyright.

It's probably required for parents to sign a thing saying that its ok.

I don't know how that affects me now because I am legaly old enough to make my own decision.

TBH, I think that unless your parents did sign an unusual and probably legally very dubious contract, explicitly giving the school copyright, the idea that the school has any grounds for claiming copyright in your work is ridiculous.


As a student, you are also a creator of copyright material – your essays, emails, exam scripts,
dissertations and other original material you create in the form of projects or assignments all
constitute copyright material. You are the owner of the copyright in such material, although
clearly, the University requires you to submit copies of such material as a course requirement for
the purpose of marking and assessment and may require or ask you to deposit copies of some
material in the Departmental libraries or the University Library.

pmasiar
November 29th, 2007, 09:07 PM
maybe instead of starting new project, you can contribute to existing GPL project?

Just ask for permission in school to add features to existing project without talking about the license. By default, you keep original license and the whole problem magically disappears! :-)

tyoc
November 29th, 2007, 10:42 PM
I will also know the thing about the school owning the copyright (at end what I do there not only depend in what they have teach me, but also others schools before, and other people), if all go OK, I will start my the project the next year, in my case, I hope to continue later working on the subject I choose, and based on the work I do there.

If the schools own the copyright, how I can do furter work on the subject based on that work?

wolfbone
November 30th, 2007, 12:40 AM
I will also know the thing about the school owning the copyright (at end what I do there not only depend in what they have teach me, but also others schools before, and other people), if all go OK, I will start my the project the next year, in my case, I hope to continue later working on the subject I choose, and based on the work I do there.

If the schools own the copyright, how I can do furter work on the subject based on that work?

Quite. This whole thread is nonsense. Schools do not own the copyright in the works of their students. If any school - at least in the UK - did try to assert copyright ownership, e.g. by contract, they'd be blown out of the water in any UK Court anyway. (There are laws about fair and reasonable contract terms).

ryanVickers
November 30th, 2007, 12:46 AM
I think if they sign it, then it's all done and good, but in the first place if some place I was working tried to claim everything I made, I'd just be like **** you! It's GPL!!! :p

sharperguy
December 1st, 2007, 12:43 AM
I'm still not really sure about this.

According to the GPL I should get a copyright disclaimer from the school.

mssever
December 1st, 2007, 04:19 AM
I'm still not really sure about this.

According to the GPL I should get a copyright disclaimer from the school.

You only need a copyright disclaimer from the school if the school can legally claim copyright to your work in the first place--which is far from certain.

By the way, it wouldn't hurt to ask your school's opinion on this matter. They might or might be correct, but if there is some signed document in existence, they should know about that.

tyoc
December 1st, 2007, 05:15 AM
yes, it is something weird, but all the friends that are out of the school now, and I have ask about the subject have say me something like "all you do is own by the school", that is the answer I get of all people I know, I guess I will need to ask in the school and be redirected there to who can answer this,

pmasiar
December 1st, 2007, 07:08 PM
as I said before many times: instead of starting new project (with uncertain license), ask for permission to contribute to existing project. If it is GPLed, and school will agree, you are all set.

Also, it will be better for Free Software community to have some bugs fixed/features added than adding one more dead project forgotten also by author, IMHO.

bruce89
December 2nd, 2007, 02:20 AM
I am doing Advanced Higher Computing in my last year of high school.


Funny, I started that last year. I never went though due to health issues (sort of). I really wish I did the course though.

ankursethi
December 2nd, 2007, 04:13 PM
Simple solution. According to the terms of the GPL, inf you contribute to a GPL-licensed project, it means that your employer/contractor cannot claim rights over that work.

Register your project over at Google Code or SourceForge with your mom/dad's account. Then you can simply be a contributor while your parents own the project. After school you can transfer the copyright to yourself.

Hairy_Palms
December 2nd, 2007, 05:02 PM
as a current university student i know this for a fact, in the uk at least, any inventions created whilst you are there are automatically owned by the university, they are required to credit you as the inventor but they own the copyrights, my professer recently invented a new 3d flame analysis system, the university owns the copyrights, that said, theres a loophole, if you invent it and just keep quiet untill youve left university then you can just apply for a patent in your own name.

CptPicard
December 2nd, 2007, 05:50 PM
The professor is employed as a researcher by the university so the copyright issue is more straightforward then.

At least over here in Finland students own the copyrights to whatever they do, and it is quite common to put CS coursework under the GPL. Exceptions are when for example you're doing your thesis work for a company or something like that.

I really think the OP should just ask the school how this goes instead of speculating here; there's no way we can know better than someone at the school.

sharperguy
February 2nd, 2008, 01:19 AM
as a current university student i know this for a fact, in the uk at least, any inventions created whilst you are there are automatically owned by the university, they are required to credit you as the inventor but they own the copyrights, my professer recently invented a new 3d flame analysis system, the university owns the copyrights, that said, theres a loophole, if you invent it and just keep quiet untill youve left university then you can just apply for a patent in your own name.

Sounds good except you can't get patents on programs, only specific ideas used within them.

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

By the way, I did consider before starting the project the idea of contributing to a project, but it would be too complicated to complete within the given time frame and I need to provide a lot of data like analysis, design and testing not just implementation.

I'll probably just chance it and take all copyright info off it when I hand it in, but add it in again for my own copy and continue working on it.

tad1073
February 2nd, 2008, 01:36 AM
One other solution would be to write a contract stating that the school can own the copywrite w/ you as the proprietor of the source code and that any changes made to the source, name etc, constitutes a violation of said conrtact and that the profit share if any will be 99% proprietor 1% copywrite holder. That will make them think twice about getting credit or whatever they are looking for off of other people.

pmasiar
February 2nd, 2008, 02:55 AM
One other solution would be to write a contract stating ....

Not sure what school principal would be so dumb and sign such a contract. And if s/he does, deserves to be sued :-)

tad1073
February 2nd, 2008, 03:52 AM
I am doing Advanced Higher Computing in my last year of high school.


Not sure what school principal would be so dumb and sign such a contract. And if s/he does, deserves to be sued :-)

I don't either. the thread starter said he ws in high school right? Well if it is a high school project then the school has no business implementing contracts, rules whatever it is, like.

pmasiar
February 2nd, 2008, 05:06 AM
Point is, shool does not need to implement anything. OP says that according to his research, school owns copyright to all software created in school, using school equipment. To change it, some document is needed. You claim to write and sign a contract. I claim noone in school will sign it, especially in form you suggested, so OP's original situation is fully in force. If they do nothing, they have full rights, what incentive they have to get less rights?

School is very much in business of implementing rules and behaving according to valid law, possibly to a big surprise for you. :-)