Tatte stance on University president's decision regarding copyright guidelines at Tampere University 13 June, 2019
The Finnish Union of University Professors released a statement at the end of May 2019 regarding the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights in the new University. The Union expressed its concern over the universalist application of guidelines and contracts in this field in a way that looks to favor employer interests over those of the employees.
Tatte has joined JUKO and the Union of University Professors in insisting that the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights must be handled depending on the project - not as universal policy - and in a separate document, i.e. not included in employment contracts. The reasons for this are both practical and legal. Similarly Tatte has maintained that changes in the assignment, or transfer, of intellectual property rights must always be justified to the satisfaction of the employee and never assumed.
The Tatte board released its own statement together with TEKTUNI and the Union of University Professors as early as on 13 December 2018. Our concerns expressed in the statement do now seem unfortunately justified, as the president has on 11 March 2019, with minimal discussion, decided against our statements and in favor of more universalist approach (note: the decision is available only in Finnish; consult https://intra.tuni.fi/en/handbook?page=5027 or ask your trade union representative for more information).
The president's decision can be seen as an example of the new leadership style at Tampere University, where employees are heard in negotiations, but rarely listened to. We have, regrettably, come to expect one-sided decisions whenever the law does not expressly rule it out. The assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights is, unfortunately, thus protected. We ask the president to respect the opinion of employees when it has been so explicitly expressed and is in clear contrast to the decisions made.
Tatte reminds all members, that any contract relating to the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights is still something that has to be justified to the employee. The employer cannot force employees to accept its terms, and there are in fact circumstances where the contract may be completely valid. However, employees should not accept the contract embedded within the employment contract: depending on the circumstances of work and the justifications offered, the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights can be signed together with the employment contract or at a later date, but in all cases it must be explicitly handled in a separate contract. The official recommendation by Tatte is not to sign the contract in its current form, if possible.
Tatte supports the Union of University Professors' call for further clarification and a redrafting of the contract for the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights at Tampere University. We also expect the university to communicate details of the contract openly to all employees (especially to the administration and project managers most closely associated with these documents) so as to reduce the likelyhood of misunderstandings, which could otherwise be avoided. The early months of the new university have been hectic enough, and all steps to reduce administrative burdens should be taken, though not at the expense of employees’ intellectual property rights.
The JUKO statement on copyright guidelines is available (in Finnish) here: https://intra.tuni.fi/content/news/5549. JUKO does not recommend that employees sign the contract regarding the assignment and transfer of intellectual property rights in its current form.