Q: I have a question which involves the rights to intellectual property as teacher in a private grade school.
I was a high school teacher and created about 50 powerpoint lessons in the school's drive. The school locked me out and will not share my powerpoint lessons. I am of course very upset over this. I spent days on one powerpoint alone. The school would not suffer any harm by sharing my lessons with me. What can I do? It is course material I created for work and was paid to do so. However, I never signed any contract stating I give up my rights to my lessons.
You may find this article informative on the subject, although it does not address any special statutory or other law in Maryland that may vary from the basic principal that a work made in the course and within the scope of employment generally belongs to the employer:
You may also wish to contact your local teacher's union to inquire about the terms and provisions of any collective bargaining agreements that might reserve to the teachers certain rights to course materials and innovations created by them.
A: This is general legal information only and not legal advice. Generally speaking, many teachers are surprised to learn that if they are a salaried employee, their lesson plans, creative works and writings (powerpoints in your case), may actual be the intellectual property of the school or the school districts - unless you have a contract that specifies otherwise. This is due to the "work-for-hire" doctrine. If I were a teacher or a professor that created a lot of copyrightable work, I would want to discuss this before entering into any agreements and note that all work created will become the intellectual property of the teacher, and this means they can privately monetize, and take it with them when they stop teaching, retire, etc. NEGOTIATE FOLKS! Attorney Steve®
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