1. OUCS policy

OUCS staff make extensive use of open source software to deliver services, and take advantage of the freedom to examine the source code, fix it, and enhance it. The department recognizes that participation in community open source development is valuable for both staff development and enhancement of the University's reputation, as well as improving the software itself for the benefit of all. However, the copyright in code created during this process by University staff typically belongs to the University, and should not be distributed outside the institution without due permission. Note that such distributed code remains the property of the University of Oxford. Any future changes, such as licence changes, are subject to this policy's terms.

Staff who wish to contribute to open source projects should seek the permission of the Director before doing so. Requests will normally be approved if the software is relevant to departmental work, and the Director is satisfied that the University is free to contribute the software in question. A register of open source projects will be maintained, which will list
  1. The name(s) of staff involved
  2. The details of the project (description, URL etc)
  3. The relevance to OUCS service
  4. The licence under which contributions will be issued
  5. A summary of the degree of involvement

Staff will be asked to update the register once a year and confirm their involvement. The Director will include a summary of the register in the OUCS annual report. The line managers of staff named in the register are required to inform the Director of any changes relating to those staff members in terms of status, funding or nature of their contributions as such changes occur so that the Director can assess whether or not it is appropriate for the staff member to continue contributing to the open source project in question. In addition it is the responsibility of line managers to ensure that all staff who are contributing to open source projects adhere to the reporting requirements set out in this policy.

This policy only applies to OUCS staff whose posts or work are not underpinned by any kind of sponsored support (for example project funding). Other OUCS staff must consult the Research Services Office to establish whether the terms and conditions associated with their sponsored support permit the release of their work under an open source licence.

2. Background

Ownership of IPR created by the University's employees and students is governed by Part B of Statute XVI of the University's Statutes and Regulations (http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/statutes/790-121.shtml).

Before any work is contributed to an open source project it is essential that the first question be ‘who funded this’, and all software developers at any level must be clear who is paying for any given piece of work. Industrial or academic collaborations, and multiple funding sources, make this a difficult area. Software must not be contributed to an open source project unless and until all the funding sources and any associated terms and conditions are clear. Contact with the University's Research Services Office will be necessary to establish these details in the case of OUCS work which enjoys support from sponsorship.

Where contributions to an open source project are only accepted if the IPR is entirely assigned (as opposed to licensed) to the project, the University must be assured of a reciprocal perpetual licence for itself and its creating employees/students to use the work for academic and research purposes. Such assignments will need to be checked by Legal Services.