Thursday, September 14, 2006

Professor selling lectures...

and at my own university. Sigh!

Professor gives students the option of purchasing his lectures online

I have to admit I am embarrassed. Our university has one of the most progressive copyright policies for faculty you will find at any institution. Which means that not only can the faculty do great things, for example releasing course materials under a Creative Commons licence, there is nothing to stop them from doing stupid things as well.

My first reaction was that the students should begin recording the lectures, and with a little BitTorrent magic Professor Schrage would be out of business. Of course, that would be violating Professor Schrage‘s copyright, and I don‘t want to be advocating an illegal action. I did take a look at Independent Music Online where he is selling his lectures and it looks like he may already be out of business:

If you have come to this site looking to purchase the audio lecture notes for Professor Robert Schrag, please take note that the files have been temporarily removed at the request of Dr. Schrag.

Being /.ed and publically ridiculed has a way of restoring a person‘s common sense. We can only hope that the lesson was learned.

Anyway, this brings me to something that I have been sitting on for a long time, and this is the perfect opportunity to dust-it-off and share. I started by giving my own university a shoutout for its progressive copyright policies. Let me conclude with sharing one of the worst. This comes to us courtesy of the University of Texas system: Licensing Students to Create a Derivative Work. This is how they suggest faculty could start their lectures:

Now faculty may wish to make the implied license explicit and add some restrictions. Written and verbal instructions at the beginning of class could look something like this:

“My lectures are protected by state common law and federal copyright law. They are my own original expression and I record them at the same time that I deliver them in order to secure protection. Whereas you are authorized to take notes in class thereby creating a derivative work from my lecture, the authorization extends only to making one set of notes for your own personal use and no other use. You are not authorized to record my lectures, to provide your notes to anyone else or to make any commercial use of them without express prior permission from me.”

I‘m thinking this is something Professor Schrage might want to “borrow” for use in his own classes.

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