Use of Intellectual Property

October 6, 2014

TO:                         All Faculty

FROM:                  Bette S. Bergeron, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs


The State Ethics Commission has long held that a state employee may not profit from the sale of a publication to a group of individuals that he or she oversees.  In April, 2001 the Commission (in Advisory Opinion No. 2001-7) ruled that this general prohibition applies to university professors requiring that their students purchase textbooks or other intellectual property created by the professor. A professor may only profit from assigning his or her intellectual property to his or her own classes

provided that the Universities establish protocols for insuring that potential conflicts, misuse of office and impairment of independence of judgment are all proscribed.  Specifically, the Commission has proposed and the Universities have agreed that a review system will be set in place whereby  requests to utilize a professor’s text for his or her class will be ruled upon, in advance, by a board composed of individuals not subordinate to the professor involved in the request.

Advisory Opinion No. 2001-7 is available, in its entirety, on the website of the State Ethics Commission.

The Office of Academic Affairs and the Faculty Senate of Southern Connecticut State University have established the required protocols.

 In order to allow instructors to use their own course materials without violating the Ethics Commission’s rulings, Southern Connecticut State University will follow the procedure set forth in the following paragraphs.


In a course taught by a faculty member, the requirement to purchase a textbook or other intellectual property authored or prepared by that faculty member may be interpreted as “obtaining financial gain for himself or herself” [within the meaning of Connecticut General Statutes, section 1-8 ( c ), of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials.] unless the faculty member receives prior approval for such use or directs any financial gain to an SCSU student scholarship fund, or to a recognized 501-C3 entity, within thirty days of receipt.(Advisory Opinion 2001-7)

Therefore, all full time and part-time faculty who require their own students to purchase the faculty member’s intellectual property are required to provide notification to the Provost on the form below.

Intellectual Property Compliance Form

 If this information reveals that the faculty member will gain financial benefit from this requirement, formal approval will be necessary.

In such cases, the Provost shall appoint an ad-hoc committee of three faculty members drawn, if possible, from both inside and outside the department of the instructor making the assignment. Before appointing the committee, the Provost shall consult with the instructor whose assignment of his or her intellectual property is being reviewed.

The ad-hoc review committee shall consider requests, justification and evidence submitted by affected faculty members.  After considering all appropriate materials, the review panel may approve requests meeting one or both of the following requirements:

a)            the text is recognized as the standard in the field, or

b)            the text offers a unique perspective on the topic of study

Instructors whose application to require purchases of intellectual property has been reviewed may appeal the committee’s decision to the Dean of the school, and to the Provost, in that order.

NOTE:  Approvals will be valid for two academic years.

 In order to begin this process for 2015-2017, please notify the Office of Academic Affairs by December 5, 2014 if during any semester of AY 2015-2016 or AY 2016-2017 you will require your own students to purchase intellectual property that you have created, whether or not you gain financial benefit from it.

Similarly, if you have not previously received approval for either semester of 2014-2015, please contact the Provost’s office immediately.