Prince George County Board of Education in Maryland stirred up a controversy when they proposed a copyright policy that would give them ownership of any work created by staff and students.
The school board insists that it doesn’t have any “intention to declare ownership” of any of the works done by its students. Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs stated that the policy is intended to guard against teachers selling lesson plans created for Prince George County schools.
If the policy would be passed and put into effect, it would not only take ownership of any lesson plans created by its teachers, but it would also own everything from a picture drawn by a second-grader to any app that a teen student would create.
Many parents are concerned that the policy would “stifle creativity.” They have also questioned whether or not the policy portion that effects the students is even legal.
Education activist, David Cahn commented on the proposed policy. “There is something inherently wrong with that. There are better ways to do this than to take away a person’s rights.”
University of Missouri adjunct law professor and lawyer, David Rein teaches intellectual property. Rein stated that he’d never heard of a school board enacting a policy such as this.
Rein went on to say that at a university level, they have “sharing agreements” for work where the university, professor and student would benefit from any projects.
“The way this policy is written, it essentially says if a student writes a paper, goes home and polishes it up and expands it, the school district can knock on the door and say, ‘We want a piece of that.’ I can’t imagine that.”
Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs insists the proposal is to set a clear distinction as to owns the right to teacher developed curricula that is created on iPads that are school property. The proposed policy would be no different as any other employer except for the fact that it covers the students as well.
Director of the National Education Policy Center Kevin Welner stated that the proposal seems to be driven by revenue. He went on to say that there is a secondary online market for teacher lesson plans that is steadily growing.
“I think it’s just the district saying, ‘If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want to be in on that.’ Not only be in on that, but to have it all.”
Welner went on to say, “Within a large district, there might be some who would invest a lot of time into something that might be marketable, but most teachers invest their time in teaching for the immediate need of their students and this wouldn’t change that.”
The policy reads, “Works created by employees and/or students specifically for use by the Prince George’s County Public Schools or a specific school or department within PGCPS, are properties of the Board of Education even if created on the employee’s or student’s time and with the use of their materials.”
“Further, works created during school/work hours, with the use of school system materials, and within the scope of an employee’s position or student’s classroom work assignment(s) are the properties of the Board of Education.”
Jacobs tried to lessen the blow from the potential policy. “Counsel needs to restructure the language. We want the district to get the recognition, not take their work.”
Be sure to check out Kelly’s other columns:
Austin Marriage Examiner
Austin Beauty Examiner
Disease & Illness Examiner
National Sports Celebrity Examiner
Sex and Relationships Examiner
If you liked this article, click the Subscribe button to receive email updates when a new article is published. Follow Kelly on Facebook and Twitter or connect on Pinterest. Find more by Kelly on her website.
©Kelly Cozzone, All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. Partial reposting is permitted with a link back to the original article.