A proposal by the Prince George’s County Board of Education to copyright work created by staff and students for school could mean that a picture drawn by a first-grader, a lesson plan developed by a teacher or an app created by a teen would belong to the school system, not the individual...I would be against this even if it applied only to teachers, who are at least paid, but students? The idea is that we compel them to be there, then take ownership of what they create?
The proposal is part of a broader policy the board is reviewing that would provide guidelines for the “use and creation” of materials developed by employees and students. The boards’s staff recommended the policy largely to address the increased use of technology in the classroom.
I'm entirely baffled. I honestly don't see how this could be legal, much less moral.
Taking ownership of teacher material is more of a gray area for me. It all comes down to what they pay me to do; if I do something on my own time, I own it. Even if I used it in my classes, I still created it on my own time for my own satisfaction and the school district has no claim to it.
It’s not unusual for a company to hold the rights to an employee’s work, copyright policy experts said. But the Prince George’s policy goes a step further by saying that work created for the school by employees during their own time and using their own materials is the school system’s property.The old adage of "follow the money" certainly comes into play:
Kevin Welner, a professor and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder, said the proposal appears to be revenue-driven. There is a growing secondary online market for teacher lesson plans, he said.This guy gets it right:
“I think it’s just the district saying, ‘If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want be in on that. Not only be in on that, but to have it all,’ ” he said.
Peter Jaszi, a law professor with the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic at American University, called the proposal in Prince George’s “sufficiently extreme.”It's that very reason why I think it's wrong for teachers to use TurnItIn.com--that company makes money off of student work without compensating the students. In short, it's theft.
Jaszi said the policy sends the wrong message to students about respecting copyright. He also questioned whether the policy, as it applies to students, would be legal.
He said there would have to be an agreement between the student and the board to allow the copyright of his or her work. A company or organization cannot impose copyright on “someone by saying it is so,” Jaszi said. “That seems to be the fundamental difficulty with this.”
Cahn said he understands the board’s move regarding an employee’s work, but he called the policy affecting the students “immoral.”
“It’s like they are exploiting the kids,” he said.
Hat tip to reader MikeAT for the link.