Illegal Class Notes or Stolen Course Materials?

Illegal Class Notes ~ Stephens Web ~ by Stephen Downes
This refers to a lawsuit in Florida against a company that is selling copies of course notes gathered by previous students. Apparently the professor involved has a package of materials that are sold to students by a publisher and the publisher claims that the “notes” being sold duplicate these copyrighted materials.  Steven Downes, and a number of bloggers he refers to, find this lawsuit objectionable and consider the professor to either be privatizing “ideas” or to have been in some way tricked y the publisher. But in fact it appears that the professor is not averse to the lawsuit so I don’t see how he can be described as having been snookered by the publisher; also, the copyright is being applied not to the ideas but rather to the specific presentation, and to the extent that his material is original that is surely his right. If students copy and freely share their own notes rather than an exact transcription of the instructor’s material then I have no problem with that, but if the note company is selling Moulton’s work for their own profit then I hope they get stopped.

(This does not mean that I have no reservations about a professor requiring students to purchase a text of his own authorship unless the text selection has been made at arm’s length by some independent third party – but that is, I believe, a separate issue.)

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