University of California and California State University campuses are taking measures to limit what you can do with your lecture notes. In an effort to restrict note sharing, the UC and CSU sent cease-and-desist letters to note-sharing websites notehall.com and coursehero.com.
Notehall’s website now indicates the company is no longer accepting notes from CSU or UC students. Individual policy changes have also been implemented at campuses such as UC Berkeley.
Such a strict policy change, however, stands in stark contrast to the existence of organizations on campuses that provide similar services to those offered by note-sharing websites.
At UC Davis, the ASUCD unit Classical Notes pays students to take lecture notes that are then made available to others, essentially functioning with the same purpose as note-sharing websites. It is perplexing why campus officials would support such policy shifts while ignoring entities such as Classical Notes. Campuses need to be more clear in their stance and either restrict both options or restrict none at all.
Regardless of this issue, the new note-sharing policy infringes upon students’ rights and should be reversed. To support the plan, proponents cite the California Education Code, which prohibits students from selling class notes, as well as the idea that professors own intellectual property rights for their lectures.
However, when students take notes they modify the information presented to facilitate comprehension and may even provide original art in the form of a doodle or two. Thus, unless notes are written verbatim, professors cannot claim copyright infringement.
Restricting note sharing can also make it more difficult for students who are forced to skip class due to unavoidable circumstances, especially at universities that operate under the fast-paced quarter system.
While these policies are unfair, we would like to offer a practical solution to get around these issues and help you get that A you are vying for in Gen Chem. Next time you are in class, stop being anti-social and introduce yourself to your neighbors, especially the ones taking notes on their cool new iPads. You will make a friend or two that you can later ask for notes if the need arises.
Whether you take the old-school approach of social interaction or continue to note-share online, please, whatever you do, do not send e-mails to the entire class begging for notes because you were too hungover to show up for lecture.