Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Education Your Rights Online

School Board Considers Copyright Ownership of Student and Teacher Works 351

schwit1 writes "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. 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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

School Board Considers Copyright Ownership of Student and Teacher Works

Comments Filter:
  • Kid's artwork? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:48PM (#42780825)

    Most tech companies claim ownership of anything created by employees, whether created at work or on their own time.

    But, the students are not employees, and signed no waiver when they enrolled. Claiming ownership of the student's creations is rediculous.

  • Yeah, fuck off. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @06:49PM (#42780833) Journal

    Profane, but seriously, fuck off.

    On what grounds do they thing they possibly own student work?

    I can vaguely see an exceptionally unethical argument for teachers work, but student work? It's not like they have a choice as to whether they attend and it sure as hell is not work for hire.

    What is wrong with these people?

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @07:00PM (#42780951) Journal

    > 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

    So, my daughter went to an art magnet school. During that time she created many works of art, some of which she entered into contests and won awards. She has commercial plans for a series of cartoon characters she invented while in school. If the school claimed ownership, she would not hesitate to sue, and she'd have a lot of company. Content creators can get really sticky about their own content, even as teenagers.

    Therefore, I don't think the part about the school copyrighting content created by the students is going to fly. All they'd need is a couple of high profile losses, and we'd skip immediately to step 4, punishment of the innocent.

  • Re:Teachers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Sunday February 03, 2013 @07:45PM (#42781239)

    It sounds like it does, on the surface, but lesson plans are something teachers currently trade, sell, and use as a basic resource. The difference between a just-graduated teacher and a teacher with ten years of experience is that the teacher with experience has a stack of lesson plans, and can swap out which ones they use on any given day based on the progress, skill, and mood of their students. And, let's not forget, all of this is being created in the teacher's own time, outside of school hours.

    Oh, and I doubt the school district will be making these available for free to their own teachers. (Unlike the teachers themselves, who might share with a co-worker.)

    Any teacher who's spent any amount of time working on their own lesson plans would immediately start looking for a job outside the county. Any teacher who's any good wouldn't take a job in that county. You'll have beginner teachers who don't know any better, or teachers who've been there for ages and don't want to move, who'll just be hanging out until retirement. (And not updating any of their lesson plans.) Oh, and teachers who buy all of their lesson plans, because they can't be bothered to come up with them themselves. And the beginners will probably leave as quick as possible.

    So you're trying for high-turnover, and chasing out any teacher who wants to invest their own time and effort into teaching the kids. Which means you'll get low-quality teaching, and low-quality schools.

  • Teaching is a collegial activity, so a good lesson plan would normally be shared within a staff room. Student's work is produced by minors where the school is 'in loco parentis' so their work would become school property to protect them from exploitation by adults, plagiarists and commercial interests.

    That's how it works in Australia. Public school teachers are state employees so all their work is the property of the Crown. Good teaching material can be (and is) distibuted to other publis schools to give system-wide improvement. A teacher who gains a reputation for producing good stuff can negotiate this into promotion or a consultancy. State employees are not supposed to produce any paid work outside their job but in practice teachers who work as tutors, coaches or musicians etc are not imposed upon by the government as there is a tacit acknowledgement that teachers often need another income. Private school teachers' work is the property of their employee (diocesan office, school board) for much the same reason.

    School administrators (puiblic or private) have a legal 'duty of care' to children. They won't stop parents from taking their kids to modeling agencies or auditions but if they produce something in school, say their major artwork for the matriculation exam, the school can arrange a professional exhibition and prevent students from beign ripped off.

    American libertarians will doubt that government agencies can be benign (and if you want gold medal bastardry only a government can provide it) but not all countries have vast armies, huge spy agencies, heavily armed police or kill people with robot aircraft. The Department of Education will be staffed at policy and implementation level by people who believe in the value of education and teachers actually like children!

  • Re:Kid's artwork? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @09:59PM (#42781971)

    Yeah, but it's a great way to stifle teacher creativity. Why should the teachers bother to create anything that might be beneficial to the school if it will just be taken from them?

  • by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @10:24PM (#42782107)

    Schools provide opportunities to develop and hone social skills, to forge friendships and to discover new interests.

    Right. The only way to make friends is to be locked inside a building with others your own age. No adults have friends that they met outside of work/school. Not to mention that for some people, this isn't even necessary or wanted.

    But you know what else most schools seem to provide? An awful education.

    I don't quite understand the problem of standardized tests.

    Then chances are you don't understand the problem with the public school system. That is, it doesn't teach understanding. All it does is have kids memorize material without understanding any of it just so they can perhaps do better on a standardized test. However, again, these tests don't measure understanding, only rote memorization. You can memorize all the math equations and procedures that you want, but that doesn't mean you understand any of them.

  • Re:Kid's artwork? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deep Esophagus ( 686515 ) on Sunday February 03, 2013 @11:42PM (#42782513)

    While we were not required to do anything but announce our intention to homeschool and provide (without requiring approval) our curriculum for the year, we did give our homeschooled kids the Stanford Achievement Test each year. Not for any reporting requirements, but to see where we were failing as teachers.

    The result? Daughter got a full ride scholarship, and son got about half his tuition paid by scholarship. Of course neither one of them has any friends or knows how to have a conversation or play games because it never occurred to us to socialize them under any circumstances. I kid! They've both done much better socially than I ever did, even given the handicap of inheriting my F&SF/gaming/comics/Monty Python genes.

    Belial6, it's worth noting that standardized testing may not be required in YOUR state, but the laws vary wildly from state to state. Some places the rules are so strict you might as well not bother homeschooling for all the freedom you have to shape your child's academic plan; others (like Wyoming where we live) are extremely laissez-faire.

    I think I'm gonna go back through the last 18 years of school projects and LEGO models, and copyright them all in my name.

  • by MacGyver2210 ( 1053110 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @12:21AM (#42782671)

    If the kids you are referring to don't understand something, why not just ask "why" or "how"? Do they WANT to be ignorant?

    I went to public schools. I imagine my education would be about half as complete had I not bothered to question "why" or "how" to every new subject or piece of information. I had to PULL the information out of the teachers, because they were pretty unmotivated. Once I showed a teacher I was actively interested in something, they would begin to show me more and give seriously fun and interesting 'extra credit' work that the rest of the students didn't do(synchrotron experiments in Sophomore year anyone?)

    All of this came from my parents. They ENCOURAGED me to ask why. They would tell me some neat fact, like how fast the earth was going. When I asked "Why doesn't it just fly into space?" my parents explained to me (or at least tried their best) how gravity works, and in kiddie terms, basically laid out several of Newton's principles. THAT is how you answer a kid's question.

    For some reason I can't comprehend, parents are annoyed when their children ask "why" repeatedly. The kid is trying to naturally figure out how something works and why it ended up that way. Parents shut them up, or distract them with games or TV, and actively discourage them from truly understanding a topic. Louis C.K. even has a whole bit about this. THAT is the real problem with education today: parents are too lazy to help teach their kids, they don't give a shit, and just want the schools to 'do it for them'.


  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @12:43AM (#42782823)
    I was not arguing the pros or cons of homeschooling vs. public education. Just that standardized testing is not a legal requirement.

    That being said, public schools are TERRIBLE places for kids to try to hone social skills. The friends they forge are the ones assigned to them, and the opportunity to discover new interests are a fraction of what is available to home schooled kids. Public school socialization is about as good as public school education...not good.

    Standardized tests would be great if they were designed in a way that worked. The ones being used don't. I do give my kid the standardized tests. I don't report his grades to anyone, but I make sure that he ACTUALLY knows the information that is considered standard for a child a few years older than he is. Whereas his friends in public school generally don't understand the subjects they are passing the tests for.

    Standardized tests are the lie that people tell themselves when they want to convince themselves that the public school system is working.
  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:36AM (#42783107)

    You can understand something without memorizing it. There are hundreds of equations involved in various ways of doing heat transfers. You don't have to remember them all to understand how to use them correctly. If you know your situation is laminar fluid flow through a pipe you can look up the appropriate equations. The important part is learning and understanding hows and whys of heat transfer.

    You can also measure the progress of students by giving them real problems to solve. Something that requires applying the knowledge they have gained. Most of my engineers classes have two hour exams with 4 problems and everything is open book, notes, calculator etc. You are given real problems to solve that are unlike problems you have done before. You have to figure out how to apply your knowledge to solve the problem. Memorization does not help you for squat on those exams. Understanding is the only thing that will help you on those exams.

  • Re:Yeah, fuck off. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:57AM (#42783709) Journal

    It's called "work for hire," and it's entirely common, and understandable.

    Yeah, like I said.

    The teachers are paid to teach, not produce "content" or whatever. The school owning the lesson plan means that the teacher can't take it with them when they leave. That would certainly restrict the mobility of teachers if all their accumulated materials in that regard are tied to the school. IOt does not benefit the school, teachers or pupils.

    Remember: teachers are hired as teachers: not creative workers in the sense of producing work for hire.

    As it happens, where I come from and the organisation that I used to teach for did exactly the opposite. The lecturers own their own lecture notes. They could take them away after leaving, or turn them into a book. Quite often, the good long running lecture courses (i.e. the ones that did prove popular and effective over the years) were turned into books. Invariably the lecturers published the book through the university even though there was no need to do so, because they made it easy and worthwhile. Funny thing that if the university did assert copyright, then they would have got squat.

    And it's not that bizarre system popular in the US where the hapless students are forced to fork out hundreds for a bad book which changes frequently, just to pass the course.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.