Friday, February 08, 2013

Beyond the Pale

As artist and writer, I am pretty aware of what creativity is all about, including the pernicious copyright laws instituted by the late unlamented Sonny Bono that

effectively "froze" the advancement date of the public domain in the United States for works covered by the older fixed term copyright rules. Under this Act, additional works made in 1923 or afterwards that were still protected by copyright in 1998 will not enter the public domain until 2019 or afterward (depending on the date of the product) unless the owner of the copyright releases them into the public domain prior to that.

This not withstanding, a move by a Maryland school board stating they own student's work under the rubric of copyright goes beyond the pale.

“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 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. Examples of works which the Board hereby takes ownership are: PGCPS Website: Individual School Website; Curriculum documents; Instructional materials for use in PGCPS or a specific school; Software and platforms developed for use by PGCPS, a specific school and/or the Board; Other works created for classroom use and instruction.”

The school board states it is merely spelling out the terms of existing federal copyright laws, specifically Copyright Act of 1976, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and the Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization (TEACH) Act of 2002.

"Sentence first -- verdict afterwards." - The Red Queen/Alice in Wonderland

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