In short read the fine print, your ideas may not be your own and your software may not be your own to license.
These things may be resolvable - or, at least, defined - if you just work within your department, or when you are all funded by a single body. In my experience, however, this is rare, and
any fine print may be either nonexistent or not applicable to the real world. My PhD has involved work on N-body simulations of galaxy formation, using a code developed by half a dozen or so people, myself included, at several different institutions over a number of years. Given the tendency for people to move around in academia I would guess that a dozen universities in five countries (England, Scotland*, US, Canada and Germany) could, in theory, lay claim to parts of the code, as universities invariably claim some sort of rights to your work when you are employed by them. Members of the consortium have also been funded by a number of different bodies during the period in which the code was developed, and these may also make claims to own or share IP rights.
Now, everybody involved will have their own small print, and I could almost guarantee that it would be of no practical use if one or more organisation decided that there was something to be gained by exercising their supposed IP.
Our solution, as such, is simply to licence the code in the simplest way possible, allowing it to be freely downloaded and modified provided we are acknowledged in any publications resulting from the use of our work. That's it. Unenforceable, of course, but simple enough that it won't wake up anybody in administration who might get worked up about more complex licences that could be seen to undermine the universities 'right' to the code. We don't tell, they don't ask, and that's the path of least resistance in the (un)real world that is my bit of academia. Yes, it hasn't fixed anything, and I can see the flaws in what we have done quite clearly, but if I really worried too much about licencing I'd still be arguing about it. Sad but true.
Having said that, I'd be interested to know how anyone has solved our problems. Or if?
*These things are often interpreted differently under English and Scottish Law, so I'll count them as distinct, rather than the UK. IANAL, of course, or I'd know.
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