Censorship at Cambridge University

There is a serious dispute at Cambridge University between the central administration, which wants to change academics' contracts of employment so that the University owns all the patents and copyrights we create, and us academics who are fighting to retain the status quo which gives us a much better deal.

Now the University administrators appear to be resorting to censorship.

Mike Clark is one of the University's most proflific inventors; his patents provide a substantial part of the University's royalty income. He tried to alert colleagues in the biological sciences of the problem, and this is what happened. (This is a copy of a post to an internal newsgroup.)

From: Mike Clark 
Newsgroups: ucam.change.governance
Subject: Censorship by the administration
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 17:05:30 +0100
Organization: Cambridge University, Department of Pathology.
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I appear to have become a victim of "censorship" by the administration as a
result of trying to discuss the issue of the recent Report on IPR within my
own School and Faculty, within the University.

I had wanted to draw attention of a recent Report, published in the
Reporter, to the attention of my colleagues in the School of Biology and
Faculty of Biology. I am a member of Regent House, a member of the Faculty
of Biology and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pathology. I am also
the Department's Class (c) representative on the Faculty Board of Biology.
It seems to me that I have a legitimate right to bring to the attention of
my colleagues a matter of policy published as a Report in the Reporter.

However when I attempted to get the information publicised to members of a
mailing list for the School of Biology, I received the following reply from
the mail list moderator who had consulted an administrator within the
School of Biology.


Sorry but...we are told that (minor edits mainly from 3rd to 2nd person):

...the School's Council has agreed to support the new
IPR regs. and will expect the School's Depts. to comply. It would not be
seen as an appropriate use of Mole to broadcast an opposing view &/or to
stir up opposition.

   ... [you may] say that [you are] highlighting a genuine
concern, rather than opposition,

You may wish to refer ... to [your] Head of Dept. who will have endorsed
the University's position on IPR.

She also says there is no problem with you sending your own emails but of
course they would presumably have to be to a more select band rather than
the whole list.


So it seems that despite the Report being up for "consideration" by the
Regent House the matter has already been decided. The administrators have
been told which side to support and will attempt to inhibit legitimate
discussion of the issue by a University Officer, with their colleagues!

For those that don't know Mole is the computer mole.bio.cam.ac.uk. It is a
resource of School of Biology and is used by the School and its' component
Faculties to conduct research, for email and for web pages of information
concerning University, School, and Faculty Business.


Mike Clark