University of Michigan Copyright Policy, SPG 601.28

The University of Michigan outlines its copyright policy in SPG 601.28: Who Holds Copyright at or in Affiliation with the University of Michigan. The policy supports the university’s longstanding commitment to academic freedom while refining outdated elements of the earlier policy and clarifying definitions, balancing scholars’ needs to control the dissemination of their work with the university’s need to preserve important scholarly output.

Key points:

  • The University transfers the rights to faculty scholarly works back to their faculty creators. Scholarly works created by faculty are “works made for hire” under the Copyright Act, so the University is the initial copyright owner. Under 601.28, the University transfers the copyrights to scholarly works to the faculty who create these works, subject to certain conditions and exceptions. Exceptions are clearly stated for software, grant deliverables, commissioned works, etc. In all cases, the University retains the right to use the works for educational and administrative purposes and to preserve, archive, and host the works in its institutional repositories.
  • The University retains the right to use scholarly works for educational and administrative purposes and to preserve, archive, and host scholarly works in its institutional repositories. Under the policy, the University can "preserve, archive, and host Scholarly Works in its institutional repositories, such as Deep Blue, where faculty can control the timing and scope of access to their copyrighted works." This clarifies the right of the University to preserve scholarly works by reserving the non-exclusive right (meaning the author may otherwise assign or grant his or her rights) to use scholarly works for educational or administrative purposes consistent with the University's educational mission and academic norms and to preserve, archive and host those works.
  • Individual units control the disposition of most University-held works. In most cases, if the copyright to a work is held by the Regents, the unit most closely associated with the creation of the work controls its disposition. This means the unit can authorize third parties to use the work. The exceptions to this rule are for software that is intended to be revenue generating, software funded by a sponsored activity agreement, and deliverables of a sponsored activity agreement.

The Copyright Office is available to answer questions about SPG 601.28. Please contact us at

Page maintained by Melissa Smith Levine
Last modified: 08/31/2016