Monday, November 1, 2010

Class notes for sale?

NoteUtopia seeks to become a marketplace for class notes taken by students; it offers to buy your class notes, or sell you someone else's. Not everyone thinks this is a great idea: they have been told to cease and desist.

"NoteUtopia, a startup company for college students founded by a young Sacramento State graduate, has been ordered to "cease and desist" by the CSU chancellor's office, which said the company is violating state education codes that prohibit students from selling their class notes.
"The 10-year-old law that prompted the ban is so obscure that it caught NoteUtopia's founder, campus officials and Internet law experts by surprise.

"Eric Goldman,director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University Law School and a professor of Internet law, said "many people had no idea it's on the books."

"But while the law may be a sleeper, the issue of what students can do with material taken from class lectures "comes up with some regularity," Goldman noted. It's at the heart of an academic and legal debate on intellectual property rights involving how classroom content is shared among students."

The editorial page editors at the Harvard Crimson approve of the ban on selling notes:

Not For Sale Universities alone should decide when to distribute lecture material By THE CRIMSON STAFF

"Recently, California State University prohibited students from buying and selling lecture notes online in light of NoteUtopia, a new website created for this purpose. Their decision is the correct one. The practice of trading class notes does not reflect the purpose of education and should be discouraged. Although proponents of this activity claim that the ban violates free speech, they should acknowledge it is entirely within an institution’s remit to control the distribution of lecture material as it sees fit."

1 comment:

Graeme Wood said...

I wrote about this phenomenon in the Crimson over a decade ago: