Faculty Involvement in University Digital Courses

The University recognizes that accelerating development and deployment of digital learning technologies makes possible new approaches to teaching our traditional residential students and opens opportunities to reach new cohorts of nontraditional students. These students may interact with the University exclusively and, in some cases, asynchronously, through digital means. The development and adoption of sophisticated digital learning materials requires the use of significant University resources as well as substantial time and effort by the faculty. In adopting this policy, the University seeks to promote the creation of digital learning materials for the public good and to affirm the traditional rights of faculty to their writings and other scholarly and creative works and the University’s ownership and control of its digital educational offerings.

Defined Terms:

  • Faculty Content means academic content authored by faculty such as lectures, demonstrations, performances, assessments, illustrations, slides and graphics.
  • Third-party Content means academic content owned by third parties and used in a University Course by agreement with the third party.
  • Academic Content means Faculty Content and Third-Party Content.
  • Digital Delivery Infrastructure means the digital material or software platform produced or procured by University staff for offering a University Course, including graphical interface, audio and video delivery systems, enhancement of visual content and other delivery components.
  • Significant University Resources means using substantial time of specialized University staff who are dedicated to producing digital content, for example, Office of Distance Education (ODE) and Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) staff.
  • University Digital Course means a digitally-delivered course using significant University resources offered under the Boston University name.


  1. Ownership of Academic Content. The University’s digital learning materials will incorporate Faculty Content and, in many cases, also incorporate Third-Party Content. In keeping with the tradition in higher education that academic works such as articles, lectures, visual materials, and other teaching materials are owned by the faculty member authoring them, rather than the employing educational institution, the copyright to Faculty Content under this policy shall be owned by the faculty author. Third-party Content selected by faculty for inclusion in a University Course may be incorporated by license to the University from the content owner.
  2. Ownership of Digital Delivery Infrastructure. University Digital Courses will be delivered through or otherwise incorporate Digital Delivery Infrastructure, at times in combination with third-party software or delivery platforms. Such Infrastructure shall be owned by the University or, as needed, used by agreement with third-party owners.
  3. Ownership of University Digital Courses. University Digital Courses will normally include University-owned Digital Delivery Infrastructure, as well as content owned by others, such as the Faculty Content, and in most cases Third-Party Content of various kinds. University Digital Courses will bear a Trustees of Boston University copyright and the University will own the University Digital Course itself, as a whole, subject to licenses from faculty and third-party content owners.
  4. Development or Teaching of Courses for Other Entities. As is set forth in the University’s External Professional Activity Policy, a faculty member may only design, develop or teach a course for another entity if it does not compete or conflict with current Boston University digital learning or online initiatives. In this context, the use of the faculty member’s voice or video image shall be deemed to constitute the teaching of a course. In the event that no current conflict exists, Boston University has the right of first refusal. [Please refer the External Professional Activity Policy regarding the process for appropriate approval.]
  5. Future Delivery and Revision of University Digital Courses. After a faculty member’s first offering of a University Digital Course, the faculty member will be given an opportunity to review and revise the Course before it is offered again by the University. The University may continue to offer a course after a faculty member has left the University. The faculty member will retain the right to select, edit, update or remove University Digital Course academic content for pedagogical reasons.
  6. Distribution of Revenue Generated by University Digital Courses. The formula for distribution of potential revenue from the use of a University Digital Course will be negotiated between the faculty member and the University at the time the University contracts with the faculty member to develop the course.

Voted by the University Council 2/10/16, approved by the President 2/12/16.