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February 04, 2013

This Is The Kind Of Thing That Makes People Hate & Fear Government

Well, that's one way to reduce inequality. Taking the President's, "You didn't build that" one step farther, the PG Board of Education wants to copyright staff, student work (even if created on their own time and using their own materials):

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.

The measure has some worried that by the system claiming ownership to the work of others, creativity could be stifled and there would be little incentive to come up with innovative ways to educate students. Some have questioned the legality of the proposal as it relates to students.

...If the policy is approved, the county would become the only jurisdiction in the Washington region where the school board assumes ownership of work done by the school system’s staff and students.

David Rein, a lawyer and adjunct law professor who teaches intellectual property at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, said he had never heard of a local school board enacting a policy allowing it to hold the copyright for a student’s work.

Get 'em while they're young, we always say.

Posted by Cassandra at February 4, 2013 05:47 AM

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I'm not terribly upset about the argument for the staff's work in conjuction with their job. That seems a fairly standard practice in most corporate environments. I know, for instance, that any program code I write, any models I build, or presentations I put together belong to my employer. Even if I work on them at home, on the weekend on my own laptop. The work was conducted as a part of my job. I have received my compensation.

Now, if I have created something not related to my job which I then find useful to use as a part of it, that's a different matter.

Students, however, are not employees. They are, for lack of a better word, customers. And customers can darn well do what they like (as long as it's legal) with their purchased product.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at February 4, 2013 09:58 AM

I can't wait to hear the bitter complaints when some teenager figures out that this means he can draw the most offensive pictures imaginable, and sign them "Copyright of the Prince George County Board of Education."

Posted by: Grim at February 4, 2013 11:45 AM

Oh, you are Evil! :D

Posted by: Cass at February 4, 2013 12:00 PM

Yeah, but he's *our* kind of Evil.

Posted by: DL Sly at February 4, 2013 01:18 PM

What YAG said is about on the money, and probably how a court would rule it. Some businesses have in their contracts with employees that before you sell anything (even if developed on your own time) you need to give first right of refusal to the employer. As I recall, Steve Jobs had to give first right of refusal to his employer (IBM) for the personal computer... which they refused. "Who would need a computer in their home?" is the reported response. That said, I REALLY doubt the PGSD ever had anything like that in their teacher's employment contracts, and I guarantee no student signed away those rights (assuming they legally COULD sign those away).

Posted by: MikeD at February 5, 2013 09:17 AM