Development of a Copyright Policy for the Academy


One of the problematic aspects of copyright legislation is its vagueness.  It doesn’t so much tell you what to do as prescribe a range of possible choices.  This policy is designed to provide members of the Phillips Academy Community with a common understanding about copyright rights.  It is further intended  to provide the basis for a consensus about the appropriate limits on the discretion conferred by copyright so that copyright decisions are made by informed users in a consistent manner across campus.

The Need for a Copyright Policy Committee

During my sabbatical I gathered and studied copyright policies from dozens of small and large colleges and universities.  They were appropriately diverse, since a copyright policy can’t be “one-size-fits-all.” While my original intention had been to learn about what needed to be in a policy, and draft a policy for the Academy, I became convinced that this was not a good approach.  Rather, I believe that we need to reinstate a committee, or “working group” charged with the creation of a policy regarding the use of copyrighted material in a specified time frame.  This committee would consider the issues and the politics, bring to bear its collective wisdom in decision making, and  develop a policy that both supports our mission and reflects our unique situation.

Suggested Membership (6-8 people)

  • Representative of the Business Office,
  • Representative of Communications (Web Site)
  • Representatives of Faculty (History, Music, World Languages?–maybe already ACT members)
  • Representative of AV/Polk
  • Representative of the Library
  • Representative of Technology

Charge to the Working Group

The Charge to the working group should come from the Dean of Studies or from the Head of School.  My recommendation is that the working group be charged with establishing the general principles for the policy.  The specific details can be developed (evolved) over time as the policy is tested in practice.  The working group might develop a “FAQ” as a guide to the development of the detailed policy.


The policy will need to be approved by the Head of School and the Trustees.  I believe that if the working group is charged at the beginning of this Academic year, it would be possible to deliver a draft policy to the Head in time for her review in advance of the Trustees visit at the end of January.

Community Information and Education

Assuming that the copyright policy will be approved by the Trustees at their winter meeting, we should consider having a multi-pronged information and education campaign ready to go.  We would want articles in the Phillippian and the Gazette, as well as in the PA Newsroom on the website. I believe that the Faculty handbook is scheduled for updating, and the policy should be included in that revision.  Individualized training should be for held the secretaries of academic departments.  Next year during the technology workshops at the start of the year, a discussion of the policy could be included in Blackboard / PANet training.

Examples of Copyright Education Resources

Examples of Policies


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