Prince George’s School Board Considering Claim of Copyright Over All Work Produced By Students and Teachers

250px-PGCPS_Logo_2011220px-Finger_PaintingWe have had a running discussion of the expansion of copyright and trademark laws in this country. Now, the Prince George’s County Board of Education is moving toward claiming copyright to work created by staff and students that would include everything from a teacher’s lesson plan to a toddler’s finger painting project. This would make the county the first to claim such ownership over the work of students and teachers. It is part of the ever-expanding balkanization of work in this country into propriety material — backed up by draconian civil and criminal penalties.

The policy in my view is both ill-conceived and poorly drafted. Yet, it was recommended by the board staff to grab ownership rights for the county. It would make any work created during school hours the property of the county. The county could then market and sell things like lesson plans. I am less sure of the basis to claim the work of students who are neither paid by the county nor surrender propriety claims as a conditions for a public education.

The proposal in my view is an example of the thoughtless type of action that we have seen from our schools in areas like zero tolerance policies. Our schools seem to have evolved into the worst form of expansive bureaucracy that evades both logic and limits. I am shocked that this proposal made it beyond a water cooler discussion and yet it is being seriously considered by the board.

What do you think?

Source: Washington Post

29 thoughts on “Prince George’s School Board Considering Claim of Copyright Over All Work Produced By Students and Teachers

  1. Ridiculous like so many of the new ways boards of education are dealing with education issues. Clearly copyright was never meant to cover this type of material. This decision has nothing to do with education. We have become a country of over reach when it comes to MONEY. Parents should object, teachers should object.

    Will the Board sue a parent for using an Drawing made by the student in their Christmas card for copyright infringement?

  2. Can someone explain the legal justification for this? When I was in High School I wrote a short story that was published in a national magazine. (I got $75 which at the time seemed like a lot of money – should have stuck with writing :) )

    Are they saying the copyright to MY work would have belonged to my dear ol alma mater & not to me?

  3. Insanity! Is it contagious? Obviously the HHS are not alert.

    You can be sure that there is a committee of well-paid bureaucrats behind this, plus somebody who is planning to drain the kitty when full.

  4. When I first read this story very early this morning, I no longer needed the coffee I was drinking as the dogs barking in my head were more than enough to keep me awake.

  5. I thought that government entities could not claim copy right or patents off anything produced by TAX money (Yours and mine).

  6. I would think that teacher’s lesson plans are created outside of regular school hours as they have very little time during the day. So, is the plan created at the kitchen table still the property of the school.

    In my very short career as an insturctor in a community college I was paid to teach one class two days each week. As the subject/class was new to the school, and there was no departmental guidance, I had to make it all up beyond the course title “cultural diversity,” . and the course books which were selected without my particpation. All planning was done in my home. Did the material belong to me or the school? What if I would have taken the plan to another school?

  7. ” I am shocked that this proposal made it beyond a water cooler discussion and yet it is being seriously considered by the board.”

    After reports of kids being suspended for taking an aspirin, drawing a picture of a gun, tearing a corner out of a paper so it looks like a gun, putting a picture of a gun on a laptop, pointing your finger and saying bang…etc.

    I am not shocked this is being considered. It is just one more example of our schools system that has gone insane.

  8. PG County government is notoriously corrupt, with a long tradition of this regardless of who was running the show. This seems like just another power grab by people who have no concept of what children need. At least they’re not imposing fads on people like Michele Rhee.

  9. they do the same to teachers in Fairfax County. There is a market for lesson plans so the county is looking for possible revenue streams.

    Not necessarily a bad idea although I am not sure it should be done by a public institution. I have designed a couple of things used in the construction industry when I worked for a company. I had to relinquish rights to the company.

    Moral of the story, either have an explicit employment contract which allows you to keep and profit from any intellectual property developed during employment or develop it on your own time.

  10. Sooo, PG County schools want to teach students about getting screwed out of ownership of their creative work. A lesson they should NOT have to learn at school! This ridiculous idea should have died before anyone actually said it out loud.

  11. This will fly right past the parents and community as people are too busy and stressed out to object or get involved. With both parents usually working, nobody is paying much attention to this stuff.
    This would have NEVER gotten by our school-involved moms during the 1970s! NO WAY.

  12. My friend has an extremely artistically talented child. If he becomes a successful artist some day and people become interested in his childhood artwork, under such copyright laws the school would own copyright and ability to display and profit from his artwork. Imagine the additional administratia for the already p.o’ed teachers to track and deal with such issues? This wont fly.

  13. My understanding was as soon as you put pen to paper you had copyright. If I taught and made lesson plans, on my own time,I don;t know about if it is done on school time if that would, or should, be different, and I was thinking of creating a book on lesson plans those plans should be mine. Maybe before this becomes contractual, or law, I would assume whichever comes first, I would be running to the copyright office for official copyright registration.

  14. I think this kind of crazy policy stems from the austerity issues in every state and city. Without properly funding our school systems and towns and counties, all kinds of plans are popping up to sell community owned properties and as in this case, individual students and teachers work product. The teachers may already sign away their property rights to work product as employees, but the students have not.

  15. It all for the betterment of the people if the government owns and controls everything….. Seems like I’ve read this before someplace….. Someplace in history I’m sure…..

  16. I am locked up in the dog pound over the weekend for a leash violation. Some schmuck came by and took my Diary and said that it was County Property! None dare call that treason. Bring back Barry.

  17. Copyrighting the efforts of students is as obscene as corporations copyrighting the DNA of plants animals and people. The students are not employees, they did not give up the right to their own efforts.

    Teachers may be employees, but schools are not for-profit corporations…yet. Teachers who create do so to educate, they do not agree to give up their own ideas. Such an idiotic move would cause teachers to become less creative, less willing to put in an effort, knowing their work will be stolen from them if used on the job.

  18. And what is the other agenda here? To own student’s work so that they can refuse to hand it over later?

    Students. It is no longer In “Loco Parentis” it is now “We own You.”

  19. “EastBroadwayLong Beach1, February 5, 2013 at 8:59 am

    It seems, in this country, that the only thing not Illegal now, is robbing the people blind……”

    Still reading from your entrapment manual/script? ;-)

  20. Copyright?

    Working as a officer/tech in the Nuclear Surveillance dept at Fort Huachuca in 1961 I developed the idea and made primitive tests of a device that could reveal the secrets of nuclear explosions.
    As I was not an experienced circuit engineer, it stayed there as a suggestion for development in a report.

    20 years later I heard from reliable sources that my “idea´” had been realized in a nationwide system, so near as your nearest telephone post equipped detector. Guess it is gone now. Riches so near!

    Should I have sought patent counseling as a young naive officer serving my country (ironic end phrase)?

  21. This is NOT crazy. This is a revenue stream. This is privatized education. And I wouldn’t make any guesses about Michelle Rhee’s position on this.

  22. Having been a public school teacher for many years, I think this attempt to copyright the work of both students and teachers in unconscionable. As Andy said, teachers most often create/develop lesson plans and educational activities outside of school hours. It’s bad enough for a school system to claim they own copyrights to educational materials developed by teachers–but to calim copyright over work created by students is despicable!!!!!

  23. Can you imagine Harvard claiming a copyright over everything a Professor or a student wrote? If yes, then…uh…well… OK then. So then, let PG County do the same, right?

    And if not, not.

  24. Showing off are you? We had some Hebrew once. and now Cyrillics.
    Mostly it is confined to snobbish use of French, latin, ancient greek and very occasionally arabic (of which there is no consistent universal modern tongue.)

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