Intellectual Property Disclosure
Releasing Open Source Software in Academia
You work at a university. You wrote a software application. The software application does neat stuff. You think somebody else may want to use it. You want to release it as open source free software.
If you used any university resources in the creation of the software:
- work time
- university funds
- a university computer
- collaborated with other university staff
...then the university probably owns the copyright and you must petition them for permission to release what you have created.
Your university has:
- an office that handles intellectual property (IP) issues
- intellectual property policies and procedures
- an intellectual property disclosure process
To release your application as open source free software, contact the IP office at your university and ask them about the process.
Be aware though...
That most universities are not inclined (any more) towards giving anything away for free. You must be prepared to make a case for doing so.
The intellectual property disclosure process is heavily weighted towards patents. In the case of patents, all the interested parties (the patent creators and the university) are pretty much on the same page -- i.e. everybody agrees that they want to make money on the patent and so the focus is on the best way to do that.
Your university's IP gatekeepers may not be used to working with creators who want to give away the university's intellectual property (i.e. the software application you wrote) for free.
It helps if they can see how open source software benefits all parties, so it behooves you to put it in the proper context.