Open Source Policy

Covered work

  1. Software
  2. Publications and other writing (Note that especially in this case, it is common to sign away full rights. This is a case where you do more than this policy says.)
  3. Data

Conditions for limited commercial potential

This policy supports the release of work with limited commercial potential. Work with commercial potential should be assessed via Aalto’s innovation process.

  1. If work’s entire novelty is equally contained in academic publications, there is usually little commercial value. Examples: code implementing algorithms, data handling scripts.
  2. Similarly, work which only is a byproduct of academic publications or other work probably has limited commercial value, unless some other factor overrides. For example: analysis codes, blog posts, datasets, other communications.
  3. Small products with limited independent value. If the time required to reproduce the work is small (one week or less), there is likely not commercial value. For example: sysadmin scripts, analysis codes, etc. Think about the time for someone else to reproduce the work given what you are publishing, not the time it took for you to create it.
  4. Should a work be contributing to an existing open project, there is probably little commercial value. For example: contribution to existing open-source software, Wikipedia edits, etc.
  5. NOT INCLUDED: Should work contain patentable elements or have commercial potential, this policy does not apply and it should be evaluated according to the Aalto innovation process. Patentable discoveries are anything which is a truly new, non-obvious, useful inventions. In case of doubt, always contact Innovation Services! Indicators for this category: actually novel, non-obvious, useful, and actually an invention. Algorithms and math usually do not count, but expressions of these can.
  6. NOT INCLUDED: Software designed for mass-market consumption or business-to-business use should be evaluated according to the Aalto innovation process. Indicators for this category: large amount of effort, software being a primary output.

Ownership of intellectual property rights at Aalto

  1. This policy covers work of employees whose contracts assign copyright and other intellectual property rights of their work to Aalto. However, the Aalto rules for ownership of IP are extremely difficult, so see the last point.
  2. Your rights are assigned to Aalto if you are funded by external funding, or if there are other Aalto agreements regarding your work.
  3. If neither of the points in (2) apply to you AND your work is independent (self-decided and self-directed), then according to Finnish law you own all rights to your own work. You may release it how you please, and the rest of this policy does NOT apply (but we recommend reading it anyway for valuable advice). Aalto Innovation Services can serve you anyway.
  4. Rather than figure out the the ownership of work, this policy is written to apply to all work, so that you do not need to worry about this.

Release criteria and process

  1. This policy applies to copyright only, not other forms of intellectual property. Should a work contain other intellectual property (which would not be published academically), this policy does not apply. In particular, this policy does not cover any work which contains patentable inventions.
  2. The employee and supervisor must consider commercial potential. The guidelines in the “conditions for limited commercial potential” may guide you. Should there be commercial potential, go through the existing innovation disclosure processes. In particular, any work which may cover patentable inventions must be reported first.
  3. If all conditions are satisfied, you, in consultation with your PI, supervisor, or project leader (whichever is applicable) and any funder/client requirements, may choose to release the work. Should the supervisor or PI have a conflict of interest or possible conflict of interest, their supervisor should also be consulted.
  4. Depending on funding sources, you may have more restrictions on licensing and releasing as open source. Project proposals and grant agreements may contain provisions relevant to releasing work openly. When making project proposals, consider these topics already. When in doubt, contact the relevant staff.
  5. To be covered under this policy, work must be licensed under a open/open source/free software license. In case of doubt, Creative Commons, Open Source Initiative, and Free Software Foundation approved open source licenses are considered acceptable. See below for some license recommendations.
  6. All warranty must be disclaimed. The easiest way of doing this is by choosing an appropriate license. Practically all of them disclaim warranty.
  7. All authors must consent to the release terms.
  8. The employee should not transfer an exclusive license or ownership to a third party. Aalto maintains the right to relicense and use internally, commercially, or re-license should circumstances change.
  9. Employees should acknowledge their Aalto affiliation, if this possible and within the community norms.
  10. This right should not be considered Aalto officially releasing any work, but allowing the creators to release it in their own name. Thus, Aalto does not assume liability or responsibility for work released in this way. Copyright owner/releaser should be listed as the actual authors.
  11. Employees are responsible for ensuring that they have the right to license their work as open source, for example ensuring that all included software and data is compatible with this license and that they have permission of all authors. Also the release must be allowed by any relevant project agreements. Should you have any doubts or concern, contact Innovation Services.

To apply this to your work, first receive any necessary permissions. In writing, by email, is sufficient. Apply the license in your name, but list Aalto University as an affiliation somewhere that makes sense. Do not claim any special Aalto approval for your work.