A county school board in Maryland has proposed a copyright policy that would allow it to take ownership of all work produced by students and faculty — even work created off campus during personal time.
A Prince George’s County Board of Education proposal obtained by WTOP says that “any works” created by students or employees “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.”
University of Missouri law professor David Rein told The Washington Post that some universities have “sharing agreements” with students and faculty, but he had never heard of a local school board of trying to profit from a student’s work.
“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,’” Rein observed. “I can’t imagine that.”
Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs explained to the Post that the policy was meant to make it clear that the school owns the rights to any software — such as iPad apps — written by teachers, but the board never had any “intention to declare ownership” of students’ work.
“Counsel needs to restructure the language,” she admitted. “We want the district to get the recognition … not take their work.”
National Education Policy Center director Kevin Welner reviewed the policy and said that the board appeared to be trying to generate extra revenue from lesson plans developed by teachers.
“I think it’s just the district saying, ‘If there is some brilliant idea that one of our teachers comes up with, we want be in on that. Not only be in on that, but to have it all,’” he remarked.
In an 8-to-1 vote last month, the board approved the policy for consideration, but it was recently removed from agenda of Thursday’s meeting. If the policy is approved, Prince George’s County would become the first district in the area to claim ownership of work produced by employees and students.
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