Organizational Placement and Perceived Legitimacy and Authority of Copyright Information Dissemination and Management in the Research University

Open Access
Albitz, Rebecca S
Graduate Program:
Higher Education
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
September 28, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Robert M Hendrickson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Roger Lewis Geiger, Committee Member
  • Michael John Dooris, Committee Member
  • John Thomas Harwood, Committee Member
  • copyright
  • copyright management
  • scholarly communications
  • library management
  • organizational placement
Copyright plays a central role in numerous activities within higher education, and educating a university community about copyright law should be a priority, if only to protect the institution from lawsuits. But, based upon a literature review, institutions devote a more resources to other intellectual property activities—plagiarism detection, technology transfer and illegal file sharing management—than for general copyright education activities. Utilizing Mintzberg’s organizational model and its discussion of organizational placement and legitimacy as a conceptual framework, this study explores the current copyright education structures among the universities that comprise the Consortium on Institutional Cooperation, otherwise known as the CIC or the Big Ten, to determine whether organizational placement, credentials of individuals, and resources devoted to this activity affect the legitimacy of the office and the authority of copyright officers to fulfill their responsibilities. The results of this study suggest that organizational placement, while it plays a role, is not nearly as important as the credentials of the individual in the position in conveying legitimacy. A credential not only suggests a level of educational attainment and expertise; it also, perhaps more subtly, conveys to a community that the institution is willing to commit resources to this activity in the form of salary expenditures. In fact, shifting an activity such as copyright information management closer to the administrative core, and thus lending it more legitimacy, could backfire, resulting in fewer faculty members and graduate students willing to partake of the service due to their concerns about administrative motivation and interference. Thus, the recommendations offered, based upon this study’s results, include placing general copyright education within the university library, which Mintzberg defines as a support unit, but reclaiming legitimacy that may be lost in this placement with the appointment of a copyright officer who holds a Juris Doctorate, and preferably a Master’s in Library Science as well. In order to give this individual the authority to conduct their work, a clear delineation between copyright information management and scholarly communications activities needs to be made in order to minimize conflict between these two areas.