Sunday, October 20, 2013

Not-So-Great Expectations; Inside Higher Ed, 10/18/13

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed; Not-So-Great Expectations: "Politics aside, Slocum’s case and others like it in recent months raise an important question: In the age of social media and smartphones, what expectations – if any – should professors have for privacy for lectures and communications intended for students? Very little, said Slocum – but that’s “an acknowledgement of fact, of the way the Internet works, rather than a normative statement.” Privacy and intellectual property experts agreed, saying that such communications are fair game for students to share. Higher education has a complicated relationship with copyright and other ownership questions, experts said, due to historical concerns about academic freedom. Legally, however, most all of what professors say to students in lectures and in e-mails would pass the "fair use" doctrine test, making it O.K. for students to record, share and comment on even copyrighted material for non-commercial purposes. “All of us have to figure out what our expectations should be in an age of smartphones and the Internet,” said Jessica Litman, a professor of law and information at the University of Michigan who specializes in intellectual property -- professors included... “Copyright doesn't protect extemporaneous utterances unless they are recorded with the permission of their author -- here, the speaker -- so he would have no copyright claim,” she said. If Penn’s lecture had been written down – including the “rant” – he could have a copyright claim, Litman said. But in that case, the student who recorded it would have a plausible fair use defense, she added, referring to the section of copyright law that allows for unlicensed, non-commercial use of copyrighted material."

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