21 December 2009

Do Professors "Own" Lecture Content?

This article doesn't answer that question, but it raises it and a few others. It was linked to by Greg Mankiw who was big enough to say that he is "not at all confident that I am right about this one."

The founder of the company that is profiled is Andrew Magliozzi, son of one of the CarTalk guys. CarTalk, if you don't know, is the greatest radio show in the history of the medium.

I think a professor or university may have a claim if a student posted video of an entire semester of lectures without the professor's consent. Class notes and recalled information from tests, however, seem to be fair game. Especially if the online service is free. Scanned images or digital pictures of tests would also seem, to me, a bridge too far, but the website doesn't seem to do that.


roconnor said...

The way this guy's site is set up, it's free, educational and therefore "fair use".

There could be copyright implications if it was not an academic venture.

The only legitimate case Harvard has is that he's "trading on the brand", that's he's using Harvard's reputation to gain clients under the impression he's associated with the University.

Neither of those points address whether the University "owns" the lectures.

Sean said...

I think he's further covered by the fact that it's free and he's obtaining the professors' approval.

I think it would get dicey if he were charging for someone else's work. The professors' approval is added icing. I don't know the basis or arguments in the two cases mentioned in the article.

I just found the article interesting and loved Pinker's take on things.