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College Professors Crying Again (1)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537549)

College Professor, as a group, just might be the most out of touch people on the face on the earth. The kids can do whatever they want with their notes.

So who owns what I learn? (1)

handorf (29768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537552)

If they educate me, I own that knowledge, notes and all.

If I speak in a public forum I give away my words to those who hear, I can't claim that I own the words in their heads (unless they're gollems, of course).

Besides, there was a transfer of money (tuition).

Seems rather far-fetched to me. Is there some legal aspect I'm missing?
-- I'm omnipotent, I just don't care.

Intellectal Property Violation doubt, but annoying (1)

John Kacur (5703) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537555)

I rather doubt that this violates intellectual property but it sure is annoying. Some of you who play yahoo chess may know me as sedandawk. I was playing chess there the other day, when someone was using the chat portion of this program to try and recruit students to do something similar to this. Aparently they could make money by supplying their notes, and the person recruiting them to do so would also get money. (sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme) It was an annoying waste of bandwidth to people who were there to play chess, if nothing else.

Check out studentwish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537557)

Someone put up a website with the homework solutions to current quarters Math, Calc, Chem, and Physics courses at Ohio State. Got all the teachers freaking out. I say good for them. The university should realize that they need to rethink how they use homework as a learning tool, but I don't give them that much credit. Why bother with reform when it's so much easier to keep things the way they are :)

But... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537560)

It's their own work!!!

Book Material (1)

ranton (36917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537562)

Most of my teacher's notes are from my textbooks anyways, so I dont really see why my teacher has any special rights to my notes.

What about writing a book? (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537565)

So if I take a class on C programming, I can't use what I learned in that class to write and sell a book on C programming? Same thing, isn't it? (Of course, to write a decent book I might want to take more than one class.)

Copyright may protect the text of a lecture itself, but no way does it prevent a student from expressing the content of a lecture in his or her own way. And I don't see how a restriction that class notes are not to be used for profit can possibly be upheld - after all, I might be taking that class so I can get a profitable job using what I learned...and I might just refer back to those class notes.

This is total BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537567)

This is total BS. Americans are so concerned about intelectual property, that often they chose to stop the free exchange of ideas rather than encourage it. The web has historically been a free place. Now they are trying to limit this freedom. As long as the name of the professor is mentioned in the class notes, it should be perfectly ok to post them anywhere you want.

Wouldn't hold up (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537569)

The notes, provided they were not taken using college resources (i.e. the kids own the notepads/pencils/etc), would be wholey owned by the person writing them. It makes no difference where they were written.

On the other hand, if the notes contained information that was the IP of a professor, then they would not be entirey the property of the student. Actually the notes would be the students property, but the information contained therein would not.



"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

That makes no sense at all (1)

vlax (1809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537663)

My undergrad class notes don't contain anything that hasn't been said thousands of times before by thousands of different people. If I edited them into a book and sold them, there isn't a chance in hell I'd get sued. Why sue for selling them on the web?

As for the advanced classes - most profs are adamant about getting their ideas disseminated without anything but a token payment. If some web site wants to push their ideas and properly credits them, why should it bother anyone?

Next they'll be telling me I can't teach calculus without a license from my Calc I prof. Just plain dumb.

Just bearly made profesor. (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537666)

Try this. Take your car to a dozen mechanics. The ones who don't want to let on how they work or what's really going on are usually the least competent and live in constant fear of being replaced by a brighter youngster.

Sounds to me like these Professors have the same problem. I am taking bets as to weather there is a single nobel prize winner in the lot.

Actually, the students own the IP rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537669)

Since notes are written by students who did not sign any contract restricting their rights to use the information they learned at their university. This lawsuit won't go anywhere.

A taste of your own medicine... (2)

FallLine (12211) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537671)

You claim that college professors are the most "out of touch" people on the face of the earth. Can you "prove" they're even out of touch--let alone one of the most "out of touch" groups? Where are your facts?

What law says students can do whatever they want with their notes? Ignoring law for a second, many colleges have policies against "anything". You can't take an audio recording without permission. You can't photograph without permission. Verbatim notes might very well count as an IP violation, as absurd as it might sound. I'm not entirely opposed to the notion either.

Mercenaries (1)

Buggernut (74804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537676)

I guess this goes to show that professors and the institutions they represent are generally mercenaries interested in the almighty buck than genuine intellectuals interested in contributing to humankind's pool of knowledge.

Surprisingly similar to OSS arguments (3)

ChiChiCuervo (2445) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537680)

This is surprisingly similar to pro and anti OSS/Free Software arguments. With your tuition, are you paying for the end product, which is knowledge in your mind? Or are you paying for the "source" as well, the materials, notes, etc.?

I think this is where the real debate is, open source or not? Whether or not derivative products, like notes, are free?

The similarities are uncanny.

For what it's worth ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537684)

The company gives 40 percent of its ad revenue to the note takers. Last semester's top earner made $2,000 plus a trip to Hawaii.

Let's face it. If these college professors were at all on the ball, they'd sell their own notes to 24-7 and make as much doe as the note takers--

IP? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537688)

I'd say they don't have a leg to stand on unless the notes were copied word for word. It's about time students have a way to earn some money back after the school, the loan company, and the text book companies all screw them for as much as they can. Someone mentioned a web site that gives away all the answers, a fantastic idea I think. I always thought the idea of academic cheating was stupid. If giving them the right answer gives them another chance to learn then great! Schools are there to teach, not grade. I like schools that only teach and ask you to be certified by an outside party that doesn't teach. That is much more fair I think and in general a better idea.

Cornell is doing it too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537691)

Take a look at Peren's site he has the proposal from Cornell which has pretty much the exact same wording. Cornell claims that notes are derivative work of the intellectual property of the faculty!

Re:What about writing a book? (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537693)

This is completely offtopic but, to write a good book, one would hope that you wouldn't just be taking classes on the subject. Teaching classes, maybe...

Ignore me, I'll go away eventually :)


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Check out studentwish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537701)

I don't really see anything wrong with homework as a learning tool, its basically reinforcement. Besides most of the assignments are right from the text book, so if you really didn't want to do it you could always by the answer solution. In addition, at Rutgers, most homework isn't even graded heh. Calc II - 3 problems a week are graded Physics - Homework just reviewed in recitation CS - 3 projects a semester English - 6 Essays a semester graded

In my experience... (1)

Fjord (99230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537703)

I personally agree with the professors: they are the ones who put the time into making a study plan, and formulating the knowledge in those notes. The students just showed up to class to copy them for their own reference.

When I was going to university, I used to take my class notes on my PalmPilot. It wasn't uncommon for people to ask for a copy of my notes, which I gave. Eventually I figured that I would just put them up on my web page so that people who didn't know me could just get a copy whenever. I went to the prof to ask his permission because I thought it the notes were his copyright.

It turned out I was actually wrong. My prof had borrowed the lecture notes from another professor under the conditions that no electronic copies of them would be made for massive distribution. So the notes actually belonged to another professor, and if I had just stuck them up on the web, my prof may have gotten in some trouble. I certainly didn't want this since I rather liked my prof (among the best 3 I've had).

The moral of the story is that by making copies and posting them on services like this, you can get other people in to trouble that they really don't deserve. By doing so for financial gain, especially for something that you really did no real work for, makes the offense even greater. I hope that students won't screw their professors over for this site and/or I hope that the site folds for publishing materials they don't have the copyright to.

It is an interesting question.... (2)

Fisics (82038) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537705)

My professor once said, "Someone is taking my notes, and copyrighting them." (there is always a little disclaimer on the bottom of the notes) There are some interesting questions that need to be answered. You could almost think of it, as if you went to see a band in concert, taped it, copyrighted, and sold it. It is very similar, you are paying admission to the concert (tuition), and you are making a copy (the students impression of notes). However, since I am not a legal expert I can't make a judgement, but there are some similarities.

The worst part is, when professors buy the notes and make exams from everything that was covered in class that wasn't on the notes. I am not a fan of the notes....


Who cares? Notes don't make you pass exams ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537707)

Who really cares? If students want to download notes from the web so be it. It is still on them to learn the material. At my university many professors post notes they created via powerpoint and the like .. I can understand property rights when it comes to that, if someoen takes the time to creates powerpoint slides or whatnot of notes, then they own that product. However, it is ridiculous that a professor "owns" what they regeritate from a book onto the board. It is absurd.

College's own rules... (2)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537709)

My college had an honor code that was actually pretty strictly enforced.

If this is true:

"Our code of student conduct prohibits students from taking and distributing notes without the professor's permission," Mr. Zuidema said.

Then the school has every right to punish those who are distributing the notes.

However, I went to a private school, and UCLA is a public school... most likely it is more difficult to enforce a college code there.

Kinda like how the Boy Scout's are allowed to exclude homosexuals because it is a private organization, while obviously the government would never be allowed to do that.

Re:So who owns what I learn? (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537710)

Yes, to an extent. If the teacher educates you on, say, the RSA algorith, you don't own that information. You could takes notes on the RSA algorithm and, while the notes would be your property, the information contained therein would be someone else's IP.

So in that sense, the notes will likely belong to the student, but the contents of the notes might belong to the teacher (or someone else entirely)


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

Re:Intellectal Property Violation doubt, but annoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537713)

you are an annoying waste of bandwidth to people who planned on talking about notes ownership

Oops... by "lawsuit" I meant "complaint". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537715)

Presumably they will investigate the possiblity of a lawsuit, but their lawyers tell them they haven't a leg to stand on, so this foolishness will never disturb the interior of a courthouse.

similar has been done for years... (1)

Evil Willow (24876) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537716)

This really makes me laugh. Every Frat house at the college I went to had extensive files of notes, homework assignments and exams dating back many many years. The dorm I lived in had similar, although not nearly as comprehensive. This just levels the playing field for the rest of us.

I think it is time that the Professors realize that the undergrads are not there to support the Professors little pet projects at any given time and that these same professors start getting off their duffs and doing what they are supposed to and coming up with new and exciting content to teach these students who are paying good money to get a quality education.

Read your own sig! (1)

Daffy Duck (17350) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537717)

If I speak in a public forum I give away my words to those who hear, I can't claim that I own the words...

And yet your sig says, "If you want to quote me in an article, contact me for permission". Why? How can you claim ownership of words you posted in a public forum?

I can see... (1)

seeken (10107) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537721)

A reason why universities may want to stop this sort of thing, but citing intellectual property violations is, IMHO, disingenuous(sp).

I figure they would want to stop this because it dilutes the value of having particular people to teach classes. I, as a GMU student, could augment my education by reading the notes from professors at UCLA, and not pay them a dime.

Most of my professors put a lot of notes on thier web sites or make copies available for cost to any comers. This is the Way of the Future(tm) and any professor or school fighting this is just being clueless.

I'm a college student- If I use the knowledge I have gleaned from school in my work, do I have to pay royalties to my professors? NO! Notes, unless they are a transcript of what the teacher is saying, are obviously not the property of the teacher, any more than are the locations of bookmarks that I've placed in my textbooks the property of the author.


Surfing the net and other cliches...

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537723)

Whatever they want? If the professor reads a copyrighted work (not such an unusual thing to do in a class), and the student writes down the words, can they the republish the work? It is, after all, written down in their notes. As for whatever else a professor might say, well, if the professor wrote something down, there would be an automatic copyright, right? I wonder is the same is true of what they say. (Don't know for sure.) Regardless, posting the notes against the professor's wishes is, if nothing else, rude. While rudeness should by no means be outlawed, it is sad to so often see rudeness encouraged and cheered.

Re:This is total BS (1)

DukeofURL (113919) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537725)

I don't think there is even the need to mention the Instructors name because the instructor did not create the notes. Most notes are not written down exactly as what was spoken. That's why they call them notes, they are just small bits and pieces to help you remember the complete information.

Re:Just bearly made profesor. (1)

reflector (62643) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537727)

Maybe they're embarrassed. Maybe these professors don't feel that their work is of high enough quality to merit such attention, and this is their way of warning people away.

200 years ago, human property (slavery) was considered normal.
Today, it is unthinkable.
Perhaps in another 200 years, we'll feel the same way about intellectual property.

IP is really going out of hand (1)

Gurlia (110988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537728)

This intellectual property thing is really getting out of hand. Does this mean that we are not allowed to apply whatever we learn from school and university unless we are given "permission" by the teachers and professors? What about the ancient Greeks? Did they give permission to professors to write textbooks and make money off it? Just about everything in modern science and technology we owe to the ancient Greeks. We should start paying the Greeks royalties for using their ancestors' ideas! :-)

Re:So who owns what I learn? (1)

handorf (29768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537730)

But I doubt that there was any of this kind of information contained.

If my professor teaches me Calculus, does he own my knowledge of calculus? If I teach Calc to somebody else, do I need to pay a license fee?

Obviously not, but that seems to be where this is going. Unless somebody has an eidetic memory (which I am not blessed with) notes are required to refresh our memories of what we know. The information is in our heads.

IF the notes were a verbatim copy of everything the professor said, I would believe that they MIGHT have a case, but since it's almost assuredly not I have trouble seeing how this could be found true (in a court kind of situation) and leave us with a country (US assumed) that was even REMOTELY functional.

BTW: Don't print out any copies of this post! Oh... Wait... :-)
-- I'm omnipotent, I just don't care.

Problems with this at my College (1)

thesloth (81027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537733)

At my school, a prominent university in the Northeast, professors and preceptors have been quite adamant about finding and stopping those who put notes on sites like and

In October, I was cornered by the preceptor and told that he thought I was the one putting the notes for our class on (I was not). What followed was a lengthy discussion with the professor, preceptor, department chair, and an assistant dean. In the end, I was acquitted of their suspicions.

I don't understand what the difference between giving copies of my class notes to friends and posting them on the web. I guess this mass dissemination of information scares people.

I'm sure we will see a court case that might set a precedent for these types of things soon.

Yeah, AS IF! (1)

Rabbins (70965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537734)

What an idiot to think that slashdot might be full of a bunch of geeks and losers that could relate a chess anecdote to the subject at hand....
oh wait...

Presentation not information is the key (1)

Crazy Diamond (102014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537736)

It's not an issue of whether the information the professors teach should be copyrighted. This information generally comes from any number of sources. The way in which they teach a class through slides, etc. is what the professors can and should copyright. It is an incredible amount of work to produce materials for a class. The format of the information which may be transfered into a students notebook can and should be copyrighted.

It's apparently about "narrative" or something (1)

grady (107535) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537738)

Last week there was a prof on NPR talking about this issue, and his take was that professors begin with this great huge un-sequenced body of work in their field, and they go through that work and apply order to it, in the form of narrative arcs, or outlines, or whatever. It is this ordering/editing/sequencing which is the supposed "intellectual property" portion of their lectures.

I was sitting there in the car screaming at the radio "but the fuggin students, in taking their notes, are applying their *own* ordering/editing/sequencing to the profs' lectures--therefore, if the profs can claim IP rights to their interpretations of the source material which they provide in their lectures, then by the same token the students must be allowed to claim IP rights to their own handwritten interpretations of the profs' lectures."

Of course, since we're still waiting for digital radio w/enough bandwidth to actually transmit my real-time bellowing from my car back to NPR in Washington, nobody heard me but me.

Anyway. My dad's a prof and I'm getting ready to go home for Thanksgiving, so I guess I'll ask him what he thinks. When I was teaching freshman english, I didn't give exams, so there wasn't a lot of note-taking going on in my classes to begin with. I hated the whole stupid attend-lecture/cram-notes/regurgitate-on-test cycle when I was in college, so as far as I'm concerned, anything to hasten its demise is more than welcome.

grady []

Re:College Professors Crying Again (1)

Chalst (57653) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537741)

It sounds like this is not individual college professors but the administration who are upset about this(the original complaint was made by the assistant provost).

I think that this kind of note sharing scheme *could* be a good thing, but what bothers me about it is that it is done behind the universities' back, by direct appeal to the students. If the scheme is such a good adjunct to classes, why don't they approach the course instructors directly and ask for their cooperation?

They can claim ownership for only some things (1)

Phantasmagoria (1595) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537742)

In my opinion, the only thing which the college professors can claim to have intellectual property rights on are hard copies of their lectures that they themselves wrote. Many professors create transparencies, slides, and other hard copy notes for theirs students. These, I believe, belong to them and not the students.

Notes which the student took himself while attending a lecture is the student's own work and hence the student can claim intellectual property rights on those notes. For example, if I attended some conference, and the speaker presented a few ideas on a certain topic, and I later go back home and right an article on my interpretation of his ideas, that article belongs to me, not the speaker.

The professors can require, at most, acknowledgement in the students' notes that those notes were taken at a lecture by that professor. That would be nice, actually.


You're missing the point!!! (1)

kcarnold (99900) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537745)

(see subject)... Why do people go to college instead of getting their own books and stuff and learning the stuff themselves? For a degree. Now why do we want degrees? So employers will hire us. Why do they want people they hire to have degrees? Because that proves that they know something. And how do they learn that? That is the question in question. Notes are what a student writes down of what they think is the imporant information in the professor's lecture. Then they use this to study for tests. I'm not in college yet, but I'll tell you one thing: I never study for tests. It works wonderfully; I've gotten a grade lower than an A on something major maybe 2 or 3 times ever. So how do I get my information? By paying attention during class (not sleeping). If only college kids would actually concentrate on learning instead of finding ways not to do their own work, I think that the American populus would be more intelligent as a whole.

Just to break that long paragraph up, consider the value of taking notes yourself. There is something that goes on in your brain when you write something down on paper that contributes a whole lot to the process of learning that information. You can skim over notes that someone else took and not get anything out of them, but it you write it yourself, it gets imprinted somewhere deep in your memory banks. That process is known as learning. On the other side, let's say you could pick up something, read it, and have it instantly memorized for life. Now, do you understand it? Could you teach it? Unless this person was some amazing note-taker, [s]he must have missed something of the presentation. Maybe it was some crucial fact, maybe it was an illustration that made things crystal-clear in the minds of the students. Real students would care about understanding the data stream being routed into their minds, and many people need the human standing in the front of the room to understand that.

Feel free to disagree with me. Just don't let me hear it. Okay, that's mean. I should say: if you have anything intelligent to say, say it, otherwise keep your fingers off of that keyboard.

Kenenth Arnold

Re:Read your own sig! (1)

handorf (29768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537747)

If it's in a DIRECT QUOTE! If you use my exact words, Yes, they MIGHT have a case.

And my sig is merely asking for a certian kindness that some online authors have chosen NOT to extend to /. posters. I would never actually enforce it and I can assure you that I would grant permission to anyone who asked.

But this is knowledge! If you paraphrased me or even stole my sig you would be WELL within your rights.

Prehaps I'm seeing a distinction that isn't there, but it seems plain enough to me.

Pax :-)
-- I'm omnipotent, I just don't care.

The mechanics of notetaking (3)

Belgand (14099) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537749)

I myself currently am employed by a notetaking service ( for transcribing my interpretation of the material presented in one of my courses. The key factor here is "interpretation" we were thoroughly told not to copy or post any copyrighted material or handouts. So long as a student is posting material that is written by themself as they view the material presented in class it is entirely legal however.

Re:Read your own sig! (1)

phurley (65499) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537751)

He does not have ownership of the idea, only the quote. (He is requesting that you do not _quote_ him without permission, there is a big difference).

My name is not spam, it's patrick

Re:What about writing a book? (1)

Capt Dan (70955) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537752)

I do not believe that is the same thing...

If the book were nothing but a pure regurgitation (kiddies: SAT word for the day), then there could be some issue.

But if take the knowledge that you learned, mull over it, and express "the content of a lecture in his or her own way" as you pointed out, then there should not be any problem.

What about the fact that a number of professors get their lectures from a textbook to begin with? Does not the same concept apply?

"You want to kiss the sky? Better learn how to kneel." - U2
"It was like trying to herd cats..." - Robert A. Heinlein

On note takers and notes. (4)

delld (29350) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537753)

The claims so far, here on /., are that the student own the notes that they take. However, it is my experience that many people in math and physics write down word for word what the prof writes on the board. Some even use the exact same formating and annotation. Are these notes the property of the student? I beleive not. If word for word copies were permisable, I could copy out the latest best seller and publish on the web! I think the publisher and author would come after me fairly quickly.

sort of off topic (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537755)

I had a philosophy professor in college who
taught two requisite courses for the major:
history of ancient and history of modern philosophy.

He taught the same class each year. He taught
precisely the same course each year, without
variation. If you compared class notes over the
course of, say, ten years, it became evident that
he made the same jokes, in the same places, over and over.

He also tended to make the subject rather clear and lucid.
The intellectual property wasn't so much the notes
about the subject as the highly syncretic vision
of the history of philosophy which ol' Prof. Reiss
managed to hold in his head.

Man I miss being an undergrad.

Intellectual Property? (1)

BigRedZX (102201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537758)

Since when was *anything* you were taught in any school not "common knowledge"? How can this be considered IP?

If this was about research related materials they might have a point. But then again, if it is research, it will likely be published in some dusty old academic journal anyway.

Re:Just bearly made profesor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537761)

Exactly. I had a PhD once tell me that no PhD had a vested interest in promoting someone to PhD status that is smarter than them. That is why I will not try to get a PhD .. there is too much politics. It just sounds like Professors are suffering from elitism. They are afraid they won't be the only people with the answers. Grow up.

Not totally out of touch, at least in this case (1)

droob (71208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537762)

But a student's notes are normally just the teacher's words copied onto paper. This takes them out of the realm of public information and makes them intellectual property. Or, at least, I can see it being argued that way.

Re:So who owns what I learn? (1)

lucidvein (18628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537763)

Really, just what they need. Another reason to raise tuition. Anticipating future use of knowledge, notes will now be taxed. Maybe recruiters will pay annual visits to make sure you aren't sharing that extra information with friends or family. After all, we go to universities to raise ourselves above the sniveling masses, not share information to create a better world.

Apparently information doesn't want to be free.

Re:Wouldn't hold up (1)

panda (10044) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537764)

No, you're wrong.

The notes are the students' expression of ideas expressed by the Prof. The student owns the notes outright regardless of what the Prof. said during the lecture. The only time a Prof. could claim to own a given student's notes is if that student copied down verbatim what the Prof. said.

Anyway, most of my university class notes were along the lines of:
"Prof. going on about more crap I read in the textbook last night. I'm bored.
Damn, that woman in the third seat is hot!
Wonder what she's doing tonight. [doodle, doodle]"

Then, in Grad. School things started to get interesting, because there were more discussions and fewer lectures, so I was making notes of some of my classmate's ideas, but I never did ask the woman in the third seat on a date. :-)

So basically it's scoop online (1)

Hermelin (15608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537765)

For the inherently lazy. What if you do have a class with notes online from the professor? How many college students are really going to not be lazy and rewrite them. This is just really indoctrinating them with the plug and chug strategy or copy things.

Anyway, the people who go through on scoop don't learn much. And I'm talking about the long term here. Is it me, or everyone looking for a cheap way out. I bet you Intel has some new engineers that can do QA since they blew through the class on scoop or something like that.

I haven't checked out that site though, mainly because I can't get in without signing up.

This is so ridiculuous. (1)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537766)

99% of the time, students are not taking down notes of the professor's original thoughts, but rather what the professor is reiterating from something that was originally thunk anywhere from 10 to thousands of years ago.

Its not as though this company is asking students to post notes from research experiments they participated in.

And furthermore, aren't my notes my interpretation of what the professor has to say? So in actuallity, all I'm really giving up is my intellectual rights to property that was [given to |purchased by ] me.

I actually plan on posting all of the source code and notes from all of the projects I've had to work on in school, not so that other kids can cheat off of my hard work, but so that they can benefit from someone else who's been there and done that.

To put it another way, lets take a typical CS course in C++. Let's suppose that we are working on a class BigInt, in which we plan on implementing all the usual functions for Integers of arbitrary size. Obviously, the best algorithms that we are going to find come (originally) from Knuth. Did the professor get permission from Knuth to use his intellectual property? Hell no!

I think sometimes schools [file|consider] lawsuits like this one just to get their names in the papers. They know that they are wrong, but they figure the publicity is worth the effort.

"A mind is a horrible thing to waste. But a mime...
It feels wonderful wasting those fsckers."

There's not a single thing wrong with it (1)

Taos (12343) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537767)

Here at Kansas State University, my we recently ran into this problem in
my Chemistry I class. She mentioned all the standard professor
complaints of intellectual property and all that BS.

Now doesn't the concept of "intellectual property" seem a bit ironic in a
college setting. In a sense, the term means you can't distribute something
I know. Doesn't that go against the whole philosophy of teaching? If you
don't want the information of your course to be spread, why the hell are you
telling a class of 400 people everything?

In addition, use of these sites can be very useful. Look up notes from other
universities in the same course. You can find different examples of the same
material. It will only help you learn.

Even if old tests become posted, it can only be of benefit to the students.
If the professor is so assinine as to never change his/her tests, the whole
course devolves into a course on memorizing old tests. It's easier sometimes
to just memorize an old test and regurgitate it on the test than it is to
rationalize and learn the material to take the test properly.

There's something they're not telling us here. It's an issue I think needs to
be properly discussed among professors to make them realize what their purpose
at their respective university is.

/ A O S

There is a bright line for intellectual property (1)

infoflux (103311) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537768)

I for one don't understand all the controversy regarding these issues. I think if a student posts notes or other material that a professor has photocopied and distributed to a student then this IS a violation of intellectual property rights. However, if a student is simply taking down their personal notes regarding a professor's lecture, it is THE STUDENTS INTERPRETATION of a professor's notes and thus not an infringement on the professor's intellectual property rights. In most cases, the notes I, and the majority of my collegues take omit some information, add additional information, paraphrase, and clarify upon a professor's presentation in such a way that the majority of the work done, and the material written is my own. In general the majority of college professors I have had have not given notes, as much as lectures and a few key points. It is the STUDENT's job to take the notes. The only grey area I see is if a professor writes notes on the board during the lecture, and the notes that are posted by the student on these websites do not differ from these notes. However, in the vast majority of these cases, professors (unfortunately) do not present data in this manner. Therfore, I think that intellectual property rights arguments could be legitimate on a case by case basis, viewed from the professor's perspective, but certainly not from the institution's.

Greek (1)

xl (79162) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537769)

Isn't that one of the main benefits of being in a fraternity? Having the work of your brethren available to use.
I think UCLA is freaking out because if this works out, then they are no longer the sole beneficiaries of the teachings from their professors. They essentially become no better the any other Uni offering the same courses if this info is not privy.

Re:What about writing a book? (2)

nano-second (54714) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537770)

I can't use what I learned in that class to write and sell a book on C programming?

That's not the point at all... it's not what you learned in class, it's the notes you take from the lecture. You might argue that these are a "student's interpretation" of the material, but most students I know (myself included), take down pretty much the exact same things that go on the board and/or are said. If the professor does a proof of some theorem, I'm going to copy his/her proof because it's likely the way he/she will want it done on assignments and exams. I'm sure there are exceptions, but there always are.

The problem is with profiting directly from the above described notes... not with using knowledge derived from the material in the notes.

Nonsese... unless (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537771)

nonsense. The notes belong to the students. The only exception would be if the university were to have a (pre-published) intellectual property agreement. The agreement (or the document which contained it) would have to be given to the student and refrenced on some agreement which the student would have had to sign before enrollment. Also: A professor could ask students to sign an agreement to give up ownership of the notes. But that would seem silly. Now, lets get to the real reason that the universities are against this: 1) They want their students to go to class, rather than staying in bed and downloading the notes off the net. 2) The $30,000 schools dont want it to become known that they teach the same things as the "regular" schools. Its against the schools' interest to have Brown and Princeton students comparing their notes to those of state school students. 3) The schools have to invent something since they cannot sue for any of the reasons above (going to class is the students' responsibiity, the site cant be blamed if they skip). Since this type of intellectual property is untested, there is a chance that they could win.

Re:It is an interesting question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537772)

I fail to see how copying a band's music (word for word copy) is the same as note taking. When I take notes, I write down what is important to me. There is no way I can write down every word my professor says, nro would I try - they mostly just spit up what the books says anyhow. Rather, I write down key points. If I am taking notes in Diff Equ, the professor does not own the rights to a particular formula- please!

Sounds like another question on (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537773)

Final Exam!

(where'd that go....can't find it)


Nice Try, Fellas, But Not Quite (5)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537774)

Professors, and the institutions, are asserting an intellectual property right to a student's notes on the content of lectures. They're dreaming. No such right exists.

Intellectual property rights only apply to ideas that have been reduced to fixed form. Fixed form means "written down" or "recorded"--only the fixed form of an idea is protected by copyright, the idea itself is not. Until the idea is reduced to fixed form it is just so much hot air.

For example, suppose I get up on stage and present a hilarious, moving expression--in rap--of the tribal customs of my ancestors (Scots) entitled "Getting Naked and Painting My Body Blue". If I have written those rap lyrics down beforehand, I can assert an intellectual property right. If you copy them down and repeat them, I can sue. But if I just start shouting extemporaneously, I have no rights--the words have not been reduced to fixed form.

An excellent example of this was Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. Consider how many times you have heard that speech. Now ask yourself--why don't Dr. King's children collect royalties on that speech? They can't--King spoke extemporaneously. The written copies of the speech were made from film footage of the event.

In the case of classroom notes the situation is made even easier--the written notes reflect the creative work of the note-taker. Suppose that you and I attend a lecture by Prof. Chris Berman [] at the University of Bristol [] . My notes might include lots of information about what Berman wore, what the lecture hall looked like, whether he looked smaller or larger than he appears on TV, and what the general reaction of the audience was. Your notes might indicate what Berman actually said. The difference between my notes and yours is the creative content that you and I add. And what each of us reduces to fixed form is our intellectual property.

But wait, there's more...
The university isn't just wrong in asserting that it owns the rights to the notes--it is wrong to assert in its code of conduct that students do not. Unless a student surrenders his intellectual property rights to all creative work when he enrolls, the university is infringing upon his rights to dispense with his property (his creative work) for however much he can make.

The university is blowing smoke.

In my experience... (3)

DanaL (66515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537775)

Some of my professors have given us printed notes with copyright dates on them, and I would respect that (heck, when I use their notes in assignments, I'll usually reference them).

Handwritten notes, though, I consider mine and I've never been presented with any contracts from a prof about what I can and cannot do with information presented in class.

I would think this would mainly be an issue for grad students who are doing work under profs who are doing industry sponsored research, or who plan to publish papers based on their work. Who would care about CS101 notes, since they're pretty much the same world wide?


Sorry, my gramar sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537776)

Geez .. I should retake english 101. Sorry about my grammar.

So its copyright violation, but who's copyright? (1)

ClarkEvans (102211) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537777)

If these students are taking verbaim copies of the notes, then it is a violation of copyright. Traditionally, however, this falls under 'fair use' so no one has ever complained. Now, when a student publishes it to the world... this is no longer protected by 'fair use'.

However, the question becomes, who actually owns the copyright? It should be the university, since the faculty are their employers and it is most likely "work-for-hire". And I would assume that a public university should have no problems with students re-publishing them on their own... however, if a commercial organization gets involved; then I would expect royalty arrangments.

This one is pretty cut and dry... for verbadim copies. Now, for some of my courses, my notes look _nothing_ like what the professor drew; my mental image was different (and often wrong...). Now, copyright law only protects the "expression" of an idea, not the idea itself. So, as long as a notetaker doesn't copy things exactly, or more appropriately, asserts their own interpretation -- then they are changing the expression, hence, copyright law does not apply.

So, to prove a violation, the professor needs to have a video of each lecture and then compare the notes to the video. Only if there are exact, verbadim copies does copyright law matter.

Re:Wouldn't hold up (2)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537778)

You're thinking along the wrong lines. Imagine that the professor had a copyright/patent on something he was discussing. Now does the student own what he's writing on the notes?

Of course not. The notes are his, but the ideas are still the IP of the professor. If my professor describes, in detail, the RSA algorithm, I don't suddenly own it just because I wrote it into my notes -- It still belongs to RSA. The same goes for the professor's IP.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

copyright issues here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537779)

It depends.

In some cases, a student's interpretation of a lecture should not be considered a derived work. A summary of facts should not be considered copyright infringement _unless_ it substantially amounts to a verbatim repetition of the lecture itself. Facts themselves cannot be copyrighted.

However, the professor could claim ownership over the collection of facts in the lecture, and the way in which they were organized. This is allowed under standard copyright practices. There is room for both the students and the professors to argue whether particular forms of reproduction constitute infringement or not.

Transcriptions of what the professor says are subject to copyright, though, and they should have gotten permission from the professor(s) involved if they are going to reproduce them in their entirety.

A few quotations would be considered fair use. Quotations mixed with the student's original summary or outline would probably be fair use as well.

Of course, if the college's code of student conduct prohibited all this, that will be the issue involved, not all this talk of copyright infringement.

I think that most professors would encourage students to share this kind of information freely if they were asked about it first. Part of the problem is that this on-line note service is probably claiming that the on-line notes are THEIR copyrighted property, and they probably do not allow free reproduction of it once it's on their web site. Combine this with the fact that they probably run banner ads over it and I can see why a professor would be upset.

On the other hand if a student just posted a decent summary/transcription on a web site without trying to milk it for advertising, etc., I think most professors would consider this OK.

Ethical issues involved, but UCLA's playing dirty. (1)

isaac (2852) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537780)

Private universities can legally place restrictions on students who wish to distribute class notes, but I believe public universities are on shaky legal ground. (IANAL, however) Course notes, as has been observed, are not direct transcriptions of faculty lectures, but the interpretations of the individual student; copyright protection should certainly not apply.

UCLA is clearly playing dirty pool to protect their own course-notes racket, but I also think they drink their own kool-aid on the issue of faculty lectures being protected IP.

The attitude expressed by Asst. Provost Sandbrook ("The issue here is faculty control over what's going on inside and outside of the classroom.") bespeaks a remarkable arrogance on his part - the fact that he believes the faculty should retain control of student behaviour and the free exchange of information outside of their fiefdom? Pathetic.

It also bears noting that Universities expect students to take the knowledge they have gleaned, and use it (at some level) to make a living. I would argue that these students are doing just that, and are showing some quick thinking to boot.

Does Mr. Sandbrook really expect that some other college professor at another university is going to poach their curricula by way of buying notes off a website?

Student Notes or "Fear and Loathing in Academia" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537781)

The attack on student notes is just one more piece of evidence that even the "heavily branded" schools are fearful of the potential effects of widespread dissemination of knowledge on their revenue (and profit) streams. Don't kid yourselves students, taxpayers, foundations, and donors; universities are in the business of making MONEY. I applied for a grant through my school and the administrative boondogle (through which grants passed ) wanted to mark my chairman's time up %100 for time spent on the grant; reap 15% overhead on the total dollar value; and cap my requested salary on the grant through their wage and salary department. Regardless of what the IRS and government label it for income tax purposes, the non-profit categorization of institutions of higher learning is misleading and perhaps counterproductive to the educational, research, and service missions of universities. University professors are very fearful ( and rightly so) of the consequences of electronic dissemination of course materials. However, OPEN SOURCE textbooks would be beneficial to both students with limited incomes. Professors would prefer to brand their materials through established publishers so they can maximize the rent they can extract from a captive market. Slashdot readers out there, students, and professors would be doing a great community service by contributing to an Open Source Textbook project?

Re:So who owns what I learn? (1)

Foogle (35117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537782)

No, of course not. I don't think that any of this will hold water, but it deserves to be said that, in some cases, there could be IP conflicts in taking notes and then passing it off as one's own. In which case, the professors have a right to be angry.


"You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

A tough question to answer... (1)

DiningPhilosopher (17036) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537783)

Legally I think the professors don't have a leg to stand on here. True, the lecture is a copyrighted presentation, so outright recording of voice or video for sale is definitely infringement. Analogous in my opinion to videotaping a film in the theatre and selling the tape.

However, if I go to the theatre with a legal pad and write down a scene-for-scene description of a film and later attempt to sell my account, am I violating the film's copyright? I'm not really going to be able to record much of the content - I can't get exact lines, describe costumes and cinematorgraphy in detail and so on.

Notetaking in class seems similar. I'm not photgraphing presentation slides. I can't duplicate diagrams, only imitate them. And I certainly can't get the professor's vocal inflections, gestures and so on.

That being said, I think selling notes from a lecture without the professors permission is highly immoral. The fact that it's probably legal doesn't make it right. Respect your professors and their hard work.

Re:Check out studentwish (1)

zempf (4454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537784)

Yeah, I'm at Ohio State and I can vouch for that. There are advertisements for that thing ALL OVER THE PLACE around here. I checked it out, and it's really not that big of a deal, not to mention the fact that I have yet to hear any of my teachers freaking out about it. I know my Physics 131 teacher posts the answers to the week's homework assignments on his webpage, and the answers to (most of) the math problems are in the back of the book. Homework solutions aren't really all that big of a commodity compared with lecture notes.

As far as homework as a learning tool, I don't really find it that bad as long as it's a voluntary thing. I definitely think that doing a few problems for myself helps me grasp things much better than listening to the professor. Of course, in high school homework was what it was all about, which was stupid, but that's a whole different rant :)

Finally, just to add my $0.02 to the discussion at hand, I find no problem with posting lecture notes on the web. It's quite helpful if you miss a day here or there. Of course, it's inevitable that some people will look at this as a great reason to never go to class. I guess you're getting the same notes, but you're depending on some unknown student's note-taking abilities.

-mike kania

Re:So who owns what I learn? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537785)

Information doesn't want anything. You're letting the hype get to you.

Re:In my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537786)

And, remember, the students PAID for those notes. The notes are a method by which the students can be taught. I would venture to say that if it was a) photocopied notes, from pre-prepared 'note' papers by the Prof, then this would qualify as copyright violation. However... if it's simply notes on a blackboard as part of a discussion, and students taking their own version of it, too bad... they paid for that knowledge, and wrote the notes themselves.

Re:College Professors Crying Again (1)

Communomancer (8024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537787)

Who cares if it's done behind the universities' backs? Students are paying to attend, and the university provides them with an education. The 'contract' between 'student' and 'school' ends at that.

As an aside, I agree with the originator of this professors are some of the most out-of-touch people on the planet (except, of course, for most of my comp sci professors ;). Half of them have never even been out of school since they started. And with regards to the poster who asked for "proof" that college professors are out of touch...well, this is exactly the type of response i would have expected from a professor him/herself! Unfortunately, I'm sorry, but I seem to have misplaced my copy of "The Definitive Study of the Out-of-Touchness of College Professors", so I'll have to rely on the anecdotal evidence I accumulated over the 4 years I spent in a state university.

Re:What about writing a book? (1)

Nose (54007) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537789)

For anyone that has been to college, you know that the honor code is part of the deal. You are pretty much signing a contract to attent that institution to learn. Along with that comes the agreement that you will abide by the honor code and rules of the university. If it wasn't important, you wouldn't get a copy of it all at orientation (and usually you will end up signing something that says you will abide by the rules before you even register and pay up. Some people might remember that from freshman orientation :)
That being said, they don't have any business posting class notes and getting compensated. They agreed to that already. Now if there is not a restriction, then sure, I should be able to do whatever with my notes. As the article rightly pointed out, my notes are my intrepritations of the lecture. I can't write fast enough for verbatim, and if I could it wouldn't be at all useful later because it wouldn't be my own insight (and if anyone actually did blindly take notes verbatim, they are probably not going to do too well in college).
Possibly somewhere deep down someone in admistration is afraid that posting notes on the internet will somehow make going to class (and paying them tuition) obselete. Heck, simply reading notes off of a web page constitutes an education, online course offerings should be all over the place and wildly successful (*hears crickets*) Sure, I took plenty of notes in school, but that is not what I paid four years tuition for. Who knows, maybe I should just put all of my notes online and everyone can pay tuition to me. Form a line here, classes start tomorow....


Interpretation (1)

Tenement (94499) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537790)

I believe that it should be noted that what this website is asking for is NOTES.

In my experience the term NOTE is an INTERPRETATION OF DATA that I am experiencing (or if in this case learning). I would not see a problem with this if they were taking the notes for free, but it might be an issue since they are paying for the Intellecutal Property.

SideNote: I for one am against Intellectual Property rules in general because of my adopted rule: "If a secret was meant to be kept, why did you tell your friend?" Mainly due to the fact that if you want to OWN intellectual property you should keep it hidden where noone else can see/use it so it cannot be copied or used against you.

I know I'm ranting/rambling, but I'll finish it off with this:

I feel there is no need for any complaints if this information was being given freely, however since the students are making a profit off these notes, at the very least a reference to the original source (though in reality this usually turns out to be the Professor's professor professor professor (ad nausem)) should be given.

Thanks for your patience and understanding



Re:Really? (1)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537791)

I don't know about you, but when I was in school note taking was not a process of copying verbatim the professor's words. Rather, it was a process where I listened intently to what the professor said, jotted down key words, phrases, statements, and then later on that day or evening, composed those fragments into a semi-coherent, logically structured grouping of thoughts.

If the kids are doing nothing more than a stenography drop on the website, then of course that isn't right. They are not only doing the professor a disservice, they are doing themselves a greater disservice.

Re:It is an interesting question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537794)

He's saying that if you snuck into a concert with a tape recorder, and made a tape, then technically, the tape itself, as your original work, is copyrighted by you. Of course, the music you recorded was copyright the band... so you are in violation of copyright law.. or are you? Did you 'copy' a work? Or did you just record what you heard? Copyright only applies to works... not performance.

Re:On note takers and notes. (2)

ClarkEvans (102211) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537801)

For math and engineering notes, the expression is often tied directly to the idea. In these cases, there is often only one *correct* expression of the idea; thus it is hard to argue that copyright law applies. Furthermore, most of these lecture notes contain proofs and statements of theorems which have come right out of a text book anyway.

Re:In my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537802)

I personally agree with the professors: they are the ones who put the time into making a study plan, and formulating the knowledge in those notes. The students just showed up to class to copy them for their own reference.

The students just showed up, eh? Wandered in aimlessly from a snowstorm, no doubt, and stopped to listen to a prof, then stole his/her ideas for their own evil gain?


The only reason the profs put in the time to gather the info and teach it is because they're PAID to do so. The students PAID for the info. It's THEIRS. The professors are working for the students -- so many of them seem to forget that students are their customers.

Re:Check out studentwish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537803)

Sounds like some pretty tenured profs, there.

My older cat is pretty tenured too. She sleeps most of the day. The younger cat is typical siamese. Won't leave me alone, ever. Hates the computer because she's jealous of it.

This depends on the notes being written (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537804)

Printed handouts are, reasonably, copyright by the professor or lecturer who wrote them.

Student-written notes (as in the Cornell University fiasco) should be copyright the student.

(Copyright can cover organised information, but does NOT cover non-organised collections. As notes can be written in any order, and can include or omit anything the lecturer says and, indeed, include or omit anything anyone else says, as well, they are not even remotely copyrightable by the lecturer.)

Lastly, if the notes are significantly restructured and not put up verbatim, then they are no longer the original work. This is why diaries can have phone lists in the back, as they are not quoting the telephone books - which are copyright - verbatim.

IMHO, the students in any affected University should go on rent-strike, or take the Professors to court for slander.

Two sides of the argument... (1)

Carthain (86046) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537805)

Ok, there are two sides to this..

First the professors:
While the actual information that they teach can't be copyrighted, trademarked, claimed as intelectual property, the way that it is presented can be. If somehow, when a student takes notes, they are able to keep the presented form, then the professors may have a case. However, most notes taken that I've seen, are either point form, or notes they've made from a text book. I don't seem too many people writing down what a prof says verbatum, and unless the prof wrote the text book...

Now, on the Students side:
What they have in their notes (minus all the doodles and scribling) will be the highlights of the information that was given them.... organized how they feel like organizing it. Now all information is free, all that your doing when you buy a book, is paying for the binding, publishing and generosity of the author to put down his thoughts on the topic. However, if you take the information from a book, and credit it.. there isn't a problem... so if the notes are posted with the professors name attached to them (ie: Class: blah, Taught by Professor: Somebody) then there should be no argument at all. As well, what's to stop students from going into a chat room and talking about the class? So what if the notes are posted somewhere... that means that whoever is talking about the subject, they all have the same reference material.

Anyways, I've probably been rambling (I just think this is stupid on the Prof's side) so let me just say one more thing...

Paying for schooling isn't easy... I really don't blame students for trying to get some money for something that they are (or should be) doing anyways.

Money as always is the key... (5)

Jerenk (10262) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537806)

I think most professors do not care if or when students share notes. What they do care about is when corporations come in and try to make money off the notes. This is the important factor to most professors. If someone wants to give the notes away, fine. If they want to make money, at the very least have the courtesy to inform the professor about it. If he says fine, you make money. If not, well, you find another professor to leech.

Here at UCI, one of the local note-taking places is in trouble because they were selling verbatim notes without professor's permission. The professor of this class saw a student with the verbatim notes and he asked him where he got the notes. The student said he bought the notes from this company. The professor went down there and asked the clerks whether or not they had the professors permission to replicate these notes. They, of course, said that they did (and only used notes that have been authorized by the professor). Well, of course, they had no such permission. The company is in a bit of trouble now.... =)

Because this company is not under the auspices of the UC system (there is a student-govt. run notetaking place here on campus), they are currently trying to figure out what to do with them. Apparently, the professor can sue for IP violations (and is debating whether or not to do so). For people who keep an eye on the news, this is the same company that was involved in the cadaver scandal a few weeks back...great ethics at this company!

I also believe as part of conduct, it DOES indeed forbid us from taking notes and selling them without permission. IIRC, it also says that all notes and lectures are the IP of the professor (unless otherwise stated).


Intellectual property (1)

fpepin (61704) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537808)

Intellectual property is a touchy issue when a professor is concerned because that's how they earn their money (by teaching also, but they wouldn't be teaching if they didn't have a bunch of publications behind them).

I understand their concern about that, but courses usually fall out of that because of the level of the courses in question. I'm pretty sure most of the courses they have on that site are low-level courses since there is a lot more people who have to take them compared to very advanced and specialised courses.

That knowledge doesn't really come from the teacher himself, but from books and what he was taught when he was a student himself. This isn't stuff that they discovered or invented usually. Then they paid for the books and for their tutions before that, but can't we say the same thing about the students? Where does a student stops using the teacher's knowledge and starts uusing his own?

Here the note-taking service is handled completely by the student associations. The note-takers are paid and everything and nobody complains (except when they make mistakes in it...). The teachers see it as being an help for studying and some review them afterward because they want their students to succeed.

The impression I get is that they want to avoid a bad precedent more than anything. If they didn't react, then people could start to take course notes and publish it in some form and say it is theirs. After all if those students can get paid from it and attach their names to those notes then they are their property, right?

Anyway, we'll see what happens afterward. Right now, I'd say the reaction is pretty standard and doesn't mean anything else than a knee-jerk reflex. If they really go ahead and try to sue them then we'll see just how low we're sinking here.

Rather Distressing (2)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537810)

This seems to me to be a dangerous step towards academia moving towards copyrighting learning, which would be an extremely distressing outcome.

I've been to SAP [] training where they required signing a form of nondisclosure agrement, which I found disquieting; for public educational institutions to do this seems to me to be grounds for termination of public funding.

Re:College Professors Crying Again (1)

mochaone (59034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537812)

hah! I couldn't have worded it better.


Re:College's own rules... (1)

vectro (54263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537814)

Erm, actually the government does do that. Look at the military, for example. There is no constitutional protection of homosexuals' rights. Then again, the constitution guarantees protection from discrimination based on age, and the government and private industry definately do that with respect to minors.

Re:Not totally out of touch, at least in this case (1)

Communomancer (8024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537821)

No way. I'll be the first to say, that in _some_ cases, the professor speaking the words is the originator of the knowledge that is being passed on...professors, are as a profession, naturally involved in a lot of research.

Statistically speaking, however, 99.99% of what a professor spews is not their original research. (Disclaimer, I am not a statistician!) And where do you think they're getting this "Intellectual Property"? Most likely, from the same bloody book that the students are reading from. Either that, or the knowledge has been passed onto them from their own professors, or from other readings.

Oh, and I don't know about you guys, but I _rarely_ took verbatim notes in college. Most of what i wrote down simply paraphrased what the professor said. Which their paraphrasing from someone else, who paraphrased it from other people, and so on and so forth. I have no objection to this "knowledge-passing via the web". It's just too bad the Universities didn't get involved in it on their own.

O.S.U.= Open Source University (1)

lab rat (12325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537822)

I work for an outstanding, well-funded team of immunologists. They would be pleased to hear that understanding of their work was being facilitated to those who might not otherwise get the message. Instead of pettiness they let their record of publications speak for what is their IP. I wonder why U.C.L.A. has such problems with their record of IP

Re:A taste of your own medicine... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537823)

Then, why do the notes (video, soundbites etc) from an interview belong to the interviewer? (or the interviewer's employer). If you read 4 chapters in a textbook, and summarize it, do you own the summary? How does the professor and the school dare to claim copyright sence the sum of what the professor knows came from other sources (which are copyrighted). IP rights have to end somewhere.

Re:So who owns what I learn? (1)

handorf (29768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537824)

Agreed, if people are passing off notes as their "Original Thought", that is at least very impolite if not downright illegal.

The notes should be branded as such, if nothing else to exhonerate(sp) professors from stupid interpretation errors by the students, but the thoughts and notes of the students are theirs.

I am pleased to see that we have differences. May we together become greater than the sum of both of us.
-- Surak of Vulcan, "The Savage Curtain", stardate 5906.4

-- I'm omnipotent, I just don't care.

Re:Surprisingly similar to OSS arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537825)

Yes, the similarities are immense.

Why, last week at the lecture, the info was great, but for some reason it won't work when I tried it out in the real world.

So this week I asked the prof and she issued me the latest patch. So I just deleted the old knowledge out of my head, patched the source, and rebuilt.

I'm really glad my neurons defrag every night when I am asleep, because otherwise all the builds I've been checking out lately would really be fragmenting the filesystem in my head.

Re:In my experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537826)

I would just like to point out that the problem would have been caused not by you posting the notes, but by the fact that your professor had failed to do his job and relied on someone else to do it for him.

So basically, he was doing what he then asked you not to do.

Does anybody besides me remember a time when colleges were supposed to be places to disseminate information and knowledge, rather than hoard it?

The main gripe (1)

CRB2500 (43221) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537828)

The main gripe is that they are charging for the service. If it was free of charge then it would be free and clear "true" knowledge share. Just another corp making a buck. If your frat or dorm charged money for you to look at the past notes, and exams that they had on file you can bet that if the school knew about it they'd be shut down. The profs probably don't like not getting paid but also they don't like seeing an organization other than thier own getting money for the knowledge. At least schools have scholarships. If corps take over our "education system" (training system as the case maybe) you'll be hard pressed to find them fitting scolastic betterment in on the bottom line.

There are better ways to get this info (the notes) out to people for free and still make a living. I'll leave this as an excercise to the reader.

What I saw is simple hate to profs in here (2)

LittleStone (18310) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537830)

What's wrong with ./ers?

I have to say, I'm a prof wannabe. so maybe I'm somehow bias on this issue.

As someone has point out, the prof/instructors have edit the materials to present. Although the prof/instructors seem to "pirate" others copyrighted materials, the copyright laws generally have exception clauses on the use of materials for education purpose in schools or institutions. A student copying down what have presented is included in this exception. And indeed, the prof/instructors can claim copyrights on this materials as they have edited. It's derived work.

If student sell it to others without the permission of the original copyright holders and it's not under the same exceptional clause of copyright law, that's already a violation of copyright.

Of course, you can argue whether it's appropriate to extend the copyright interpretation of derived work to this case, that's something we shouldn't overlook.

And... of course I would say, only stupid students would pay to get a copy of notes for elementary courses. You always learn more by direct interacting with professors/instructor for advanced topics that the notes do not cover normally.

more sites for info (1)

Mordac (1009) | more than 14 years ago | (#1537832)

There are a lot more Notes sites like these, one studentu [] was on CBS a while ago arguing with a professor about who owns the rights. They're pushing that the Notetakers are a lot like news reporters, they write their interpatation on what the professor says. I'm gonna look for some more links to the articles.

Re:You're missing the point!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1537834)

I'm not in college yet, but I'll tell you one thing: I never study for tests.

Then I'll assume you're still in high school. I never EVER had to study for tests in high school either. This is not a reflection upon my vast intellect, it's a reflection of how bad my high school was.

When I got to college, it was a completely different story. I HAD to study to survive -- but my 12 years of incarceration at the local school district had never taught me how to study. I had to learn, fast and hard.

I'm not writing this to knock down your arguments -- I just wish someone had told me beforehand the trouble I was going to be in because I'd never learned how to study. That's why I'm telling you. Consider yourself warned.
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