University of Florida professor Michael Moulton is a great example of abuse which comes from treating ideas like property. He and his publisher are arguing that taking notes in his lectures is an infringement of copyright.
This is worth repeating: he and his publisher are arguing that taking notes in his lectures is an infringement of copyright.
However, they do believe that students’ infringement (i.e. taking notes in his class) is protected infringement, or fair use. (How nice of them!) The lawsuit his publisher, Faulkner Press, is bringing (which he supports) is against a company that repackages and sells student notes. He argues that any notes from his lectures, even if nothing is copied verbatim, constitute derivate works which he has an artificial monopoly over thanks to copyright.
Since when does copyright extend to the spoken word, nevermind a university lecture?
Furthermore, how does this promote progress? Is Moulton offering the notes to his students? Students are still paying Moulton for his lectures and for the credit they’re trying to obtain, regardless of how many lectures they attend or how much paid or unpaid help they get from outside sources.
What about paid tutors, who might deliver lessons to students based on notes students took during lectures (or notes that the tutors themselves took in the past). Are their derivative lessons and services also violating Moulton’s supposed copyright?
What about students who go on to use what they learn in that class in other courses, or (*gasp*!) in the workplace for commercial gain. Is an application or derivative expression of the ideas from Moulton’s lectures a derivative work that infringes his supposed copyright?
What about lectures at industry conferences? Are those subject to copyright as well?
Where did Moulton get the ideas he incorporates into his lectures? At what point does an application or expression of ideas that you’re paying someone to teach you cease to be a derivative work of the original lecture?
More importantly, how can you teach somebody something and claim to own the knowledge they gain?
This claim is an insult to learning.
Some other links:
- Wired article
- A cartoon from The Independent Florida Alligator
- Techdirt’s coverage
- Against Monopoly’s coverage
- Open Access news – this one is excellent
- David Wiley covers it here and here
- A sickening propaganda website created by Faulker Press about the lawsuit (ironically, run by WordPress)