For a while now, I've been meaning to do a post on how the very idea of our education system seems to go against what copyright maximalists believe concerning the ownership of ideas. After all, so much of what any of us knows we learned from someone else in schools -- yet, we don't feel the need to credit our second grade teacher every time we do basic arithmetic. Unfortunately, it looks like the maximalist view is moving more into some college campuses. Against Monopoly
points us to a story of a textbook publisher who is suing a company called Einstein's Notes
that takes notes in classes and sells them to students. Most colleges have services like this, but the publisher, Faulkner Press, is claiming that Einstein's Notes is violating its own copyright and the professor's copyright on the lectures.
Of course, we thought that the purpose of a textbook was to educate people so that they would naturally take that information and do more with it. Some may claim that Faulkner's claim makes sense since Einstein's Notes are selling the note taking service, meaning that it's "making money" on the lectures. However, that's pretty weak when you think about it. After all, if that were true, wouldn't professors (and textbook publishers) then have a claim to anyone's
earnings that were based on what they learned from the lecture and the text? I still have a bunch of textbooks from college that I consult at times. If I use something that I learned from an economics professor or textbook to help build my business, have I violated a copyright? Where do you draw the line?