Monday, October 18, 2010

Nonsense from a General Counsel

A student at Sacramento State, Ryan Stevens, for one of his business classes developed an idea for a website which would allow students to barter notes and use other social networking skills.  The site is called Note Utopia.   It turns out the the CSU system has decided to clamp down on this entrepreneur by issuing a cease and desist order.  This comes after Stevens paid money to several campuses to set up booths on campus to distribute advertising of the new service.

The education code stipulates that even handwritten notes cannot be offered for a fee, although the same law allows students to offer for sale things like study guides and released exams.  The law originally came about because there was a worry that some companies might infringe on materials of professors.  It is clear that even without the law verbatim transcripts or direct copies of presentations presented by professors cannot be copied for anything but personal use.  But this is fundamentally different.  What Note Utopia offers is a way for student notes to be traded with a small fee.

As an adjunct professor, not for the CSU system, I would welcome students trading notes and if some kind of financial consideration is offered so much the better.   The point is here that my work product is a direct video or audio transcript of my activities in class.  Students create their own work product in class that is derivative of my presentation but not an exact copy.  It seems to me that the statute, if challenged, would fall on the merits of the issue.

If CSU's counsel's office had any brains they would figure out a way to make this new service work.

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