Campaign Launched To Stop School From Claiming Copyright On Student Work

from the speak-out-now dept

We recently wrote about how the school board for Prince George County, Maryland, was considering a policy that would claim the copyright of everything produced by both students and faculty at the various schools in the district. That seemed extreme in so many ways. Some folks have set up a site called Don’t Copyright Me, in which they’re asking people to sign a petition to be sent to the school board, telling them not to take the copyrights from students and teachers.

While this may seem like a small deal because it involves a single school district, the larger concern is that it actually becomes a bigger deal in the long term, as other school districts may follow suit:

Copyright is getting out of control. Prince George’s County is one of the top 25 school systems in the country. If this policy goes into effect, it could set a terrible precedent at a time when quality education is needed more than ever. Students and teachers deserve the same rights as everyone else. With this policy, a high school student could get a takedown notice from their own school for posting a video they made for class on YouTube.

Hopefully the school board realizes this would be a mistake.

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Comments on “Campaign Launched To Stop School From Claiming Copyright On Student Work”

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34 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No. A student is not an employee.

If you really want to go down that road and say the student is working, there are lots of laws the school district would be automatically violating by “hiring” their students in this manner. Minimum wage laws, child labor laws, age discrimination laws. Did they file all the proper tax forms? Did they pay unemployment insurance?

But all that’s moot, since students are NOT employees. The school is not hiring the student. If anything, the student is hiring the school. Also, the student has not signed a contract with the school. Copyright law explicitly states that any government agency (and a public school counts as one) cannot involuntarily take someone’s copyright.

Jay (profile) says:

How to destroy universities

How to destroy public schools

Something that concerns me is that there is an administrative bureaucracy that is impeding on progress here. The teachers have no say in the education of the kids and the kids aren’t learning as well as they could. The copyright claims are not the problem here. Find out what type of incentive structure is causing a tone deaf response to such a thick headed idea.

Obviously, if there are people that have to make money for the school through copyright claims, there’s a problem. Copyright being used to censor artists and teachers is going to create a very strong backlash similar to the French revolution if this keeps going long enough.

You would think someone had paid attention in history when people are pushed in the wrong direction for too long.

Anonymous Coward says:

Academic Copyrights

A college professor once tried to claim copyright (on behalf of the university) on my final CS project. I ended up dropping the class after we almost got into a fist fight over it, although I did manage, through the student council, to get the university to change its copyright policy for the better.

As far as I’m concerned, unless you’re paying me as your employee you have no right to claim copyright over my work.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Academic Copyrights

unless you’re paying me as your employee you have no right to claim copyright over my work

And even then, you have no right to claim copyright over work that you weren’t paying me to do and that I wasn’t using company resources for. (Lots of employers try to claim they own everything the employee produces, work-related or not).

Paul L (profile) says:

Copyright used to stifle student criticism?

If the school district were to claim copyright on all content created by the students as part of their curriculum, and the student had ANY classes that had to do with computers, the Internet, video production, acting, etc, would the district also be able to file DMCA takedowns on YouTube videos, Facebook content, or anything else that they disagreed with?

If this goes through I’m sure the above will be tested VERY quickly.

mockingbird says:

is it possible to...

could a student then stamp a (c) on their paper and claim personal copyright and also effectively grant a limited license to the school, which would then have to pay to re-use the material?
“by accepting the submission of this term paper, the teacher and the organization they represent agree to the following…”

?

Chris Brand says:

Sounds unenforceable anyway

I can see how a private school could make this a condition of attendance, but aren’t public schools required to accept all students that live in the right area ? If they can’t say “please pay us $200/year to attend the school” and they can’t say “please provide lunch for a staff member every Friday”, then how can they ask for the students’ copyrights as a condition of attending the school ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Sounds unenforceable anyway

“If they can’t say “please pay us $200/year to attend the school” and they can’t say “please provide lunch for a staff member every Friday”, then how can they ask for the students’ copyrights as a condition of attending the school?”

They can absolutely say “please pay us $200/year to attend the school.” The key is the word “please”. That’s called a “fundraiser”. But they can’t require the payment any more than they can require the copyrights.

stephen pray (profile) says:

All the world has its hand out.

I followed the link because I’m a concerned citizen. The fug ugly bastards who put up the page are asking for donations (I guess it costs money to email a petition to someone.) but I was not allowed to sign until I gave them my email… and they tired to made me agree that they can spam me every time they think of a new cause. God fucking damn. The whole world is populated by assholes.

Fentex says:

Is it legal?

How can a school claim a students copyright?

In the U.S copyright is automatic and belongs to the creator of the fixed worked, correct?

Then the school would require it’s students to sign their copyright over – but children can’t sign such contracts.

So their parents and/or guardians would have to, so the school must be meaning to make parents signing away their children’s copyrights a condition of attendance.

So this must be a private school, right? Because no way a public school could demand such a distinctive condition for attendance.

Bergman (profile) says:

So what happens if students/parents refuse to sign over copyright ownership to the school?

Does the school refuse to accept any coursework or homework, instead assigning straight F’s to every such student? Does the school initiate truancy proceedings because the student is not attending classes (and here’s the documentation proving the student isn’t turning in assignments)?

Suspension/expulsion for not obeying school rules?

The mind boggles…

Dave (profile) says:

The only way to fix this

Is for all the students to sign a non-copyright waiver forfeiting their right to copyright over any material produced for the school thus forcing all of their work to be public domain. This should hopefully stop all of the stupid claims that students have made that their work is copyright and cant be sent of to third parties, or used in a magazine without their permission. It would be good if all public schools had to do this for their teaching material as well. Would give teachers better access to other teaching materials and hopefully refine classes at a much faster rate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lesson Plans for sale

This is probably mostly about claiming ownership of lesson plans and other teacher output — which might actually be worth some money, unlike Missy Snowflake’s homework.

US Universities have explicit policies about the circumstances in which the Uni has IP rights in employee work — but that doesn’t mean people at the Uni always know and/or follow those policies.

sporkie (profile) says:

An interesting subject

The work for hire angle has some ugly implications – The public pays for the schools so work generated by the school is in effect property of the public.

This should follow through for any public funded work; IE the public funds the court system through taxes, so all of the PACER documents are effectively works for hire, funded by the public.

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