Recently, some controversy has popped up regarding who owns the IP of student-created work; recent events with the award-winning creation of some graduates of DigiPen Institute of Technology have highlighted the problematic nature of what is somewhat par for the course in design programs. On the one hand, while I can see some of the arguments for schools retaining the IP (and certainly, the policies are clear to students from day one), I find some of the arguments downright laughable. With the recent kerfluffle, are policy changes on the horizon?:
While it wasn't clear whether the IGDA's Education SIG would take up the issue, DigiPen's Comair says that a policy change is not out of the question. "Students come to DIT to learn and get the most out of their education, not to ship a game they created at school for profit," he says.
"We are a school, not a production house, and therefore our goal is for the students to gain the knowledge and experience they need to be successful in the field. We may lose students based on our IP policy, but this is not as important to me as is maintaining the quality of the education.
"I am not saying that we will not change in the future," he adds. "But, in order to do that, we need to talk to the industry to see what they feel would be best. Our program advisory committee is made up of the best of the best companies in the world. So far," he says, "they are very happy with our policy."
The commercial aspect adds some special challenges, but there's something that rubs me the wrong way about schools retaining the IP of student work. The idea that students shouldn't have control over their own work because 'it was a homework assignment' really strikes me the wrong way, probably because plenty of my fellow graduate students have and will publish work that was a 'homework assignment' (a very, very big homework assignment). As long as the policies are clearly spelled out, no one has much room to complain for current projects, but it seems like something that deserves to have a second look.