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A Teacher Asking Students To Destroy Notes? 931

zwei2stein writes "I found this question with far-reaching implications in the off-topic section of a forum I frequent: 'My economics teacher is forcing us to give up all of our work for the semester. Every page of notes and paper must be turned over to her to be destroyed to prevent future students from copying it. My binder was in my backpack, and she went into my backpack to take it. Is that legal?' Besides the issue with private property invasion, which was the trigger of that post, there is much more important question: Can a teacher ask a student not to retain knowledge? How does IP law relate to teaching and sharing knowledge? Whose property are those notes?"
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A Teacher Asking Students To Destroy Notes?

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  • Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:16AM (#26586123)

    You wrote them? They belong to you.

  • by NNKK ( 218503 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:16AM (#26586127) Homepage

    This is called theft, there is no other word for it. File a police report immediately.

  • Easy solutions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AchiIIe ( 974900 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:19AM (#26586131)

    easy solutions:
    a) photocopy the notes
    b) type them up to begin with
    c) leave ITT TECH and go to a real university

  • by DeadPixels ( 1391907 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:19AM (#26586133)
    Even American public schools, which don't offer students the same protections against search and seizure as other citizens, still require reasonable doubt for a search - and that's for illegal materials. Even if you were in a high school, it would still be illegal for her to go into your backpack and take your property.

    I'm assuming you're at a college or university, in which case it's extremely illegal.
  • That's theft. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:20AM (#26586137)

    You pay for school to learn, and what you write down is your work not hers. I would definitely contact the higher ups at your school and the police for theft.

  • Go nuts! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Swordopolis ( 1159065 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:20AM (#26586149)
    Theft, unlawful search and seizure, destruction of property..... You could go nuts with this. This can't possibly be legal.
  • File a complaints. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TokyoMoD ( 1425399 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:21AM (#26586155)
    1) With the school. 2) With the local police. 3) Contact a major news outlet. 4) Refuse going to that class until settled. 5) Contact local ACLU type outfit. Write down the event now, while it's still fresh.
  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:23AM (#26586167)

    She is trying to prevent frats etc from building up a set of 'files' on her class.

    It's pointless as now that the word is out students will simply keep extra copies.

    What kind of class is so unimportant that you wouldn't want to keep your notes and maybe texts.

    The notes belong to you. But that's not the only issue.

    Is the teacher tenured? You might want to pick you battles or at least join a group of students to protest to the dean.

    Don't file a police report.

  • by pandaman9000 ( 520981 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:24AM (#26586171) Homepage
    As soon as she violated my space or property, i'd treat her like anyone else not in my family or friends circle. She'd back the fuck up, or i'd clock her right there. You don't steal from me. Yes, i'd go to jail over it if need be.
  • by Varitek ( 210013 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:26AM (#26586185)

    Is the purpose of a college class to give a student knowledge of a field of study? Or is it to just award a credit towards a degree?

    Sound to me that the lecturer thinks it's the latter, which is a problem. Those notes are a valuable resource to any student who wants to retain that knowledge, whether for future classes, a job after college, or just for the pure love of knowledge for its own sake. The student has paid for those notes in time, effort, and money. Asking him to give them up is short-sighted and stupid. Taking them from his backpack is theft.

  • WRONG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrMista_B ( 891430 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:27AM (#26586193)

    *Do* file a police report, *do* talk to a lawyer.

    *Also* scan all the docs into .pdf and put them all online.

    Letting criminals like your prof get away with their crimes (theft is a crime, and illegal) only encourages their deviant behavior (normal people don't steal, your prof is a deviant).

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:31AM (#26586213) Homepage Journal

    You paid your tuition so that you could gain knowledge.

    Forcing you to give up your notes is effectively saying that you must retain everything in your head, which is ridiculous.

    They're your notes, you paid to be able to take them. She has no right.

    And even beyond that, it's unreasonable search and seizure by a civilian (what would that fall under, larceny?) for her to go into your backpack without your permission. File a police report and involve the administration of your school.

  • NO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:37AM (#26586251)
    You don't "copy" class notes, you write class notes. In your own words. There is a big difference. You are the author.
  • by MadnessASAP ( 1052274 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:39AM (#26586261)

    No you wouldn't, either that or you're a violent idiot.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:42AM (#26586289)
    Make sure to do all these things on the same day. Make sure the news story goes out before school officials have time to react. That is what they deserve.
  • Re:That's theft. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Smitty025 ( 948638 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:42AM (#26586291)
    Perhaps he himself didn't pay, but his parents, if they are law abiding citizens, did pay their taxes to fund his education.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:02AM (#26586393)

    Are you serious? You allowed the teacher to go into your backpack, which is your private property, and take something which belonged to you, while doing nothing about it? Not even the cops can go into your backpack like that.

    Why are so many people so freakin spineless?

    I don't want to sound like an internet warrior here, but dude, if a teacher tried to do that to me, I would prevent them, pushing / punching / kicking them if I had to as a last resort.

    (No, this does not make me a 'violent idiot' as someone else stated, it just means I have enough backbone stand up for myself in person with ACTION rather than on the internet with words. ACTION is the only sort of standing up that really matters, when it all comes down to it.)

    You do know that you have the right to defend your personal property, right? Man up.

    Yes, I know this could lead to repercussions from the university, such as being threatened with expulsion - that's when you get lawyers involved.

    There's no way to say how it would pan out, but you have the advantage that, in the eyes of the law, you are in the right and they are in the wrong - provided you don't pull a weapon or beat them to death, anyway. That equates to a lot of potential negative publicity which the university probably doesn't want.

    If you make a big enough stink about it, they'll most likely just let it slide eventually - though it will be tough for a while.

    You might get kicked out, but Jesus H Christ man, you cannot go through life acting like a minnow and bending over when you know what someone else is doing is wrong.

    STAND UP for yourself for god's sake. Let the chips fall where they may. When you get to the end of your life, you aren't going to wish you were nicer to that teacher (instead of punching them square in the solar plexus), but you will probably regret allowing people to trample all over you and never quite getting what you wanted.

    This has been a public service announcement.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:02AM (#26586395)

    School used to be so much easier and less complicated before the RIAA started influencing things.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:02AM (#26586403)

    Hold it. You may actually deal with a sensible school board. Yeah, sounds funny, but such things exist. They may be very interested in settling this quietly, return the notes and do what they love to do: pretend nothing ever happened. And that's basically what the OP wants, if I got him/her right.

    Once you blow it up and it gets news coverage, they can't simply return the notes and sweep it under the rug. They'll probably start to make up some big excuse why this is necessary in an attempt to save face, the student gets all sorts of troubles... Realize that schools have a lot of abilities to make oyur life really miserable if you're a student there.

    So far, the principal could still be unaware of the problem and be on the side of the student.

  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:08AM (#26586427) Homepage Journal

    I always had run-ins with teachers because I thought they were being unfair or something. Until I realized that things would work smoother for myself if I just assumed I lived in a tyranny and I'd have to work hard to be able to escape it as soon as possible.

    Your advice is not going to make things simpler for the topic starter. Best is to question the situation politely and in firm terms. If no response happens, leave it the hell alone and get the hell out as soon as possible.

  • Re:What rubbish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:09AM (#26586435) Journal
    Does it actually matter if the story is true or not, as long as it gives a topic for discussion? It is claimed to have actually happened, and it provides a good topic for exploring the community's beliefs about personal rights.
  • by Selanit ( 192811 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:13AM (#26586455)

    Agreed. Her goal is to prevent cheating. That may be laudable in and of itself, but this is a stupid way to go about it, for all kinds of reasons. It's probably illegal. And ineffective at stopping cheating.

    Also, the teacher has put herself into a lousy position. If she gives the student a poor grade at the end of the term, then he can file a grievance claiming that she actively prevented him from earning a higher grade by destroying his notes. That's solid grounds for a complaint. Furthermore, it sounds as if she did this to the entire class. They've all got grounds for that claim.

    By destroying the notes, the teacher has also destroyed any trust the students might have had in her, and seriously undermined her own credibility. She's lost any claim to impartiality here. No one can teach effectively under those circumstances, even an otherwise good teacher. It's stupid.

    And worse, it's destructive. She's actively preventing her students from learning. As a college teacher myself, I am outraged. This is not acceptable professional conduct.

    The student should immediately file a formal complaint with the teacher's department and the dean. I strongly suspect that the teacher will be removed from the class and replaced by someone else, as she is in no position to finish out the term now.

    It's too early to file a legal challenge, but the student would be well advised to consult a lawyer immediately to discover what the legal options are in case things go badly.

  • Re:That's theft. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kdemetter ( 965669 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:31AM (#26586555)

    If i understand correctly , the problem is the some students cheat by copying over the tests and homework.

    All the teacher has to do is give different tests and homework for each class. How hard can that be ? My teachers always worked this way.

    Having your homework/tests is great way to know your mistakes and learn from them. I don't see why students have to suffer because the teacher is too lazy to do her work.

  • by Meor ( 711208 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:36AM (#26586571)
    Well you can't do anything now since you consented to her taking them by letting her in your backpack. Sounds like you just got a lesson in 4th amendment rights. Never let anyone, including authority figures cop teachers, have your personal property ever. Even if you have nothing to hide.
  • Re:Notes? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:41AM (#26586593)
    Comply only if the lecturer promises to refund a portion of your fees - I would say at least 60-80% refund.
  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:51AM (#26586635)

    Forcibly stealing papers from a student's bag is pretty much on the same level as a teacher sexually assaulting a student.

    Uhhhh, you had my right up to this point. I agree with pretty much everything you are saying, but you are amazingly full of shit with this sentence. Amazingly. GARGANTUAN even. :)
    I say this in a friendly way too, don't take it personally.

    Let's look at the following two events in a classroom:

    1) I pick up your book bag. Unzip it. Take several papers, books, and containers from you. Hell I even take the whole bag.

    2) I pick YOU UP. I unzip YOUR PANTS. I roughly jam my cock up your ass. As the students are watching I sodomize you for several minutes until I give my "O" face to the class.

    #1 != #2. Not even close. In fact, if you were to make a system of measurement those two events would be orders apart.

    #1 = Civil penalties and maybe a little jail time. Probably time served and community service. Termination of employment.

    #2 = Criminal penalties, hard prison time and even harder prison sex, and permanent registration as a sex offender which in various states is an enormous impediment to a normal life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 24, 2009 @04:51AM (#26586641)

    The correct thing to do is to go to an appropriate dean (which one depends on how the school is structured - in the university I attended, it could have been the dean who oversees the professor, or the dean of the college of my major, or the "dean of students") and explain that the professor opened your backpack without your permission and took from you notes which you wrote on paper you paid for, and that this is theft and you want your notes back. If they are reluctant to act, explain to them very politely that you're trying to help them by not making this criminal theft a matter for the police, and won't they please consider doing something about it?

  • Re:Syllabus? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WNight ( 23683 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:08AM (#26586705) Homepage

    And having printed an unenforceable rule makes it valid? Why is this?

  • d'curriculum' = 0 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kramulous ( 977841 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:09AM (#26586715)

    That's pretty disgusting. Not only for the obvious invasion of privacy (reaching into the bag - not for suspected contraband) but mostly because the teacher never changing the curriculum.

    This is the epitome of terrible teaching, to me. The teacher could no longer give a fuck about 'freshening things up' and instead will drone on, with *exactly* the same material, year after year. The kids in the class will pick up on that vibe and will never experience the joy that *can* be found in the material.

    That is the sackable offense.

  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:25AM (#26586777)

    You know what facilitates memory even better in the real world?


    "What's the equation for the volume of a cylinder?"
    "I don't know, but if I did need to know I know I could look it up in Google in under 10 seconds. Furthermore if I need to know the volume of a cylinder enough times that it'll be important to memorize the brain will do this thing called learn it from repetitive Google searches."

    School should be a timed open book and open internet affair. You would stop learning retarded things (like dates) and focus on the important parts of history for instance like possible causes and motivations.

    Which is more important the date that the Napoleonic war began or the reasons it began? The more thorough the understanding necessary the more research that will be necessary the less banal the education.

  • by Elrond, Duke of URL ( 2657 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:27AM (#26586795) Homepage

    This is probably really good advice, as cynical as it is. The truth of the matter is, freedom is one dead dog.

    Yes, it is cynical, and a very defeatist attitude. Not to sound naive, but freedom is only as dead as you let it become.

    Of course you're not going to single handedly stem the tide of wrong, but if you don't do anything at all, what good is that? As one of the other posts above said, you must be assertive in protecting your rights and freedoms, but not necessarily aggressive.

    Stand up for yourself, see what happens, and take it from there. You can't win every battle, but if you don't even try you'll just keep losing.

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:36AM (#26586831)

    1) I pick up your book bag. Unzip it. Take several papers, books, and containers from you. Hell I even take the whole bag. ...
    #1 = Civil penalties and maybe a little jail time. Probably time served and community service. Termination of employment.

    I had no idea theft was a civil offense. I mean physical theft where you take away some person's property, not the copyright violations that some people call "theft" today.

    Thanks to the MAFIAA, people seem to be blurring the lines between philosophical discussion and actual physical violence where someone's property is forcibly taken away.

    FTFA: "My binder was in my backpack, and she went into my backpack to take it"

    Hey folks, write this down: TAKING AWAY A BINDER IS THEFT. COPYING A FILE IS NOT THEFT. Is this clear?

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:53AM (#26586903) Journal

    If you take all your notes on a laptop in class, there aren't many teachers who would dare to try to steal the machine from you.


  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ushering05401 ( 1086795 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:06AM (#26586949) Journal

    Neither cheating or plagiarism will be impacted because only the honest students will turn in their only copy of the notes.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:50AM (#26587163)

    Neither cheating or plagiarism will be impacted because only the honest students will turn in their only copy of the notes

    What do you mean there? Not "honest students", but "stupid students". The teacher has no right whatsoever to these notes. A good student will keep his notes and refer to them in the future when necessary, for example when he or she needs the information later in their professional life. That's what school is for, to teach you knowledge that you can use throughout your life. If you return or destroy those notes, that is completely defeating the purpose of education.

    And if you borrow these notes to someone else to learn from them? Well, that is the purpose of education, isn't it? To make people learn. So if in the next year, some student goes to that teachers class and doesn't understand something, isn't it the best thing that student can do to get someone's notes and learn on their own accord what they missed in class?

    Besides that, anyone turning in their notes to an _economy_ teacher proves that they didn't understand the basics of copyright law and property law. Instant fail of the course, if you ask me.

    Besides that, does that article give you a clue why Europeans are either laughing their heads off or throwing up when Americans claim they live in the "freeest of all countries"?

  • by Ragzouken ( 943900 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:15AM (#26587313)
    This is a matter that could be reasonable resolved without going to for the last resort straight away.
  • by jacksonj04 ( 800021 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:40AM (#26587443) Homepage

    Neither I nor my parents ever signed a contract for me to attend my school. How does fine-print stand up?

  • by AngelofDeath-02 ( 550129 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:44AM (#26587461)

    Right. Additionally this is a teaching concern. If the teacher is so concerned with cheating that they are willing to go to such great lengths to prevent it then perhaps they would best be counseled by their peers.

    This seems to be a case of the teacher being too lazy to mix things up from year to year. Additionally (Especially at a college level) You are paying for that class, and those notes are one of the few means available to re-study the material from. If I got wiff of this ahead of time, my notes would be at home. If necessary - I would negotiate a review of the situation with the teachers boss before agreeing to anything, and that teacher would basically have to take my backpack off me to get at my notes, which I will likely assume to be a form of assault and respond in kind (which means pushing their arm away and leaving (Hey - this isn't my house, I have to retreat before striking back))

  • by AngelofDeath-02 ( 550129 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:01AM (#26587553)

    Realistically, your notes may well be in the shredder by now anyway.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:29AM (#26587665) Journal

    This is a matter that could be reasonable resolved without going to for the last resort straight away.

    Once someone takes another person's property, they are beyond the pale. This is a matter for the law.


  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:55AM (#26587779)
    The topic starter at least understood that this is wrong, and took the initiative to ask for advice on what to do. Sounds like the kind of person who will at least make a stand and say. Frankly, the teacher is being lazy: they should prepare new tests each year if cheating is a problem, not demand that students abandon their notes, and certainly not forcibly remove the notebooks from their backpacks. I would, at the very least, report this to the principal (this is a high school, or so someone else said) and include the phrases "petty theft" and "intellectual property" in that complaint (assuming it is not high school, I would go to the provost with the same complaint).
  • by Arcturax ( 454188 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @08:57AM (#26587791)

    This suggests a bad teacher/professor. If your students can get by simply by copying notes, then you are not teaching the subject properly. Students need to learn to apply the subject, not just repeat memorized notes.

    In a properly taught class, all the notes and books in the world available to you during the exam won't save you unless you learned and understand the subject.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:12AM (#26587873) Homepage

    If the copy was lawfully made (i.e. with permission of the Copyright holder) then it belongs to the person who owns the piece of paper.

    That makes sense, otherwise the whole situation gets mind-bendingly stupid. And then what happens when someone takes notes on a computer? Reaching into my bag and taking my computer without permission would seem to be a lot more serious.

    My remedy would be to try and have the teacher charged with theft. Involving an otherwise law-abiding person with the criminal justice system, which imho is almost as bad as trying to retrieve class notes. It's like you have to become stupid to fight stupid...sort of a stupid arms race. All of that effort to stop an otherwise intelligent person from being a massive retard. Which is okay, it's a free country. I always tell my neighbors if they're going to be stupid, do it indoors. Don't put it on public display. Except this teacher was being invasively silly, which requires an equally silly response to get them to wake up to the fact they're being an idiot. That cycle raises the stupid background radiation for all of us, wastes a huge amount of time and effort, generates hard feelings and takes productive effort away from more worthy, non-stupid pursuits. All because there's no objective way to show someone being unreasonable that their behavior is, in fact, silly.

    There's a mathematical formula in here somewhere but someone took my notes.

  • Re:Galindo? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:12AM (#26587875)

    LOL. Some of you people are so hilarious, always trying to show off your legal acumen. I'd love to see you get any court anywhere to agree with you. That's like saying that since the teacher said you need to answer 60% of the exam questions correct or she will your for that exam, she's blackmailing you into answering correctly. Or if she said classroom attendance is mandatory for a passing grade, she's blackmailing you into attending class.

    Let's look at your precious section 21 of the 1968 Theft Act.

    If, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another, he makes any unwarranted demand with menaces; and for this purpose a demand with menaces is unwarranted unless the person making it does so in the belief:

            (a) that he has reasonable grounds for making the demand; and
            (b) that the use of the menaces is a proper means of reinforcing the demand.

    I challenge you to show me where the teacher has an intent to gain, or an intent to cause the student to incur a loss? Furthermore, I'd suggest that the teacher has demonstrated reasonable ground for making the demand (she may not be correct in taking the notes to prevent cheating, but it isn't unreasonable for her to think it is), and the threat of a failing grade is also proper means of enforcing the demand (that's her give you a bad grade if you don't complete the course requirements).

    I suspect any judge would laugh you out of court (but not before "blackmailing" you with with further punishment if you don't pay your court costs in a timely manner).

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:13AM (#26587877)

    I would go further and say not stupid but compliant. Students are becoming more and more compliant. It makes my job easier in some cases, but blind obedience to authority doesn't really mesh with my subject matter (mathematics.) It takes fully half the year before students understand that things aren't true just because I said they are.

    Kids are still rebellious, to be sure, but they express their rebellion in stupid, unimportant ways like abusing drugs and alcohol or using the "wrong" words that they know adults don't want them to say. I'd much rather they rebelled by not accepting statements without proof.

    In my opinion, the schools' function of teaching kids to respect authority is at fault because alongside this they need to learn to detect authority. Anyone can be handed a title that they don't deserve. Authority is earned.

  • by Per Wigren ( 5315 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:22AM (#26587917) Homepage

    That was a long time ago. The purpose of schools is to earn money for the schools. Sometimes it's for brainwashing also, but then there's usually a long-term goal of making more money for a church in the calculation.

    Learning stuff in school? That's just a bonus.

  • Be reasonable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaveGod ( 703167 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @09:34AM (#26587981)

    Many responses here seem extremely excessive, especially on a site that is usually quick to criticise going heavy-handed with lawyers. Why go with the weapon of last resort and eliminate all the other options provided for the purpose?

    Try being reasonable and diplomatic. That won't limit the heavier options later on and can actually benefit them - here in the UK you are generally expected to extinguish reasonable options before going to court (either way it'll certainly look better).

    Try simply explaining that you require the notes to maintain the knowledge for use in later life and have no intention of handing it out to others. Carefully explain that the notes are your property, both physically (you bought the paper) and intellectually, making the position clear but leaving the teacher's own mind to envision the potential for legal action. You DID supply the paper, and there isn't any slide handouts in there, right?

    If that still doesn't work, advise the teacher that she should not destroy the notes while you explore other options (being careful to be non-threatening). At this point there may be a more friendly teacher you could approach who may be able to mediate and tactfully resolve this without fuss. People change their minds more readily when it is a friend/colleague/peer presenting their perspective, and where there is minimal consequence from being wrong. Why be all confrontational? This goes both ways: it's an opportunity for YOU to discover you are wrong, in a manner with minimal consequences for you...

    If that fails, keep elevating it one step at a time. That would probably involve a parent writing to the teacher, the headteacher and next attending a PTA/PTO meeting.

    Still not resolved? No doubt there are still more options and then, ultimately, court and/or newspapers. The intermediate steps will only benefit these options, not reduce them.

    Organisations and society in general provide numerous means, checks and balances to sustain your rights. It's such a pity when people ignore them and skip to the option of last resort - courts are supposed to be there only for when society and organisations fail to provide fairness and justice.

    Can't these people consider proportionality and appropriateness? Is it really necessary to harm a teachers career and potentially the school for the sake of some notes, without even bothering to make some common sense attempts first?

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:20AM (#26588359) Journal

    I did once at a customs inspection station in Texas. And yes it is hard to say "no" to a cop who can throw you into jail. I imagine a student feels similarly intimidated by teachers.

    The cops wanted me to open my trunk, and I refused on the ground that (a) they had no warrant and (b) I had not passed over any international borders. I had passed through other inspection stations along the southern border, but those cops were polite and just waved me by. THESE cops decided to treat me like a criminal, and so I just stood there and followed the example of Martin Luther King - passive resistance. "No I will not open my trunk."

    Eventually after wasting 15 minutes of my time, they let me go. That crap shouldn't be allowed. Th SCOTUS has ruled that cops may only stop SOME cars, not all cars, and that they may only ask quuetions, not perform a search.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @10:31AM (#26588453) Journal

    Ya know, that's a good point. This is GOVERNMENT that we are talking about. A teacher can no more copyright her notes, than a Congressman can copyright his speeches in the House, or a president copyright his emails in the White House, or the FCC chairman copyright his documentations/rulings.

    It's the People's property. All things in government belong to the people, and is public domain. Some of it might be kept secret for defense purposes, but eventually it gets released. This teacher is a government employee and all things she creates while on the government clock belong to the People, and in the public domain.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:21AM (#26588841)

    I would go further and say not stupid but compliant. Students are becoming more and more compliant.

    Well what do you expect?

    From the moment they entered primary school 15 years ago, they have been under the boot of a "one-strike" "zero-tolerance" public school system that rewards blind obedience and conformity and punishes individuality and critical though. They've walked through metal detectors every weekday of their lives. They have been subject to the threat of daily, random searches of their person and locker. They know that if they even hint that they are not going to follow their arbitrarily assigned authority figures' arbitrary rules to the letter, they will be disciplined, and that discipline record will prevent them from succeeding in the future.

    You expect these people to all of a sudden become curious, critical thinking citizens???

  • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @11:23AM (#26588857)

    Copying a file is not *necessarily* theft, but it *can* be theft, especially if you are not entitled to the file in the first place.

    Copying a file can NEVER BE THEFT. Never. Not even for teeny eeeny weenie tiny little femtosecond. I know this is redundant, and already explained in this thread several times by others, including myself. I am still going to take the time to write this to you personally so that at least one more person may understand how impossibly wrong it is to believe theft has anything to do with copying anything. So I could give a fuck about moderation here. This is about me doing my best to convince only you that you are wrong and why.

    It's almost funny that you prove that in your own sentence. Think about the word "entitled".

    Theft is defined as "Taking (the property of another) without right or permission."

    Now think about that for a minute. If I copy your file, do you still have the file when I am done?

    Yes you do. Your property was perfectly intact. If you brings the cops to the scene, show them your file, then show them my file, and claim "theft" the cops will say the same thing. "Sir, your file is in your hand"

    Think about it another way. You are in the park painting a picture on a canvas. I am 10 feet behind you painting your picture. I did not perform the act of Theft did I? Nope. Your canvas, paint brushes, stand, everything is still there when the cops arrive.

    That would be like repeating everything you say in public and being accused that I somehow "stole your words".

    Now lets get back to your usage of the word "entitled". What protects your file, and what protects your painting, is something called COPYRIGHTS.

    A Copyright is the government "entitling" you with certain rights. Those primarily being the right to distribute and profit from your work and to prevent me from doing the same.

    If I performed the act of Theft on your "entitlements" that would mean that somehow I transferred your rights to myself. Well that is clearly impossible. Copyright is just a contract and you can prove you were the owner and never transferred it to me. To say I could somehow pick them and steal it like a physical object is ridiculous.


    What I have done is to violate, or breach, the contracts that bind you and I with respect to your file. The government by creating that copyright did bind me in that contract, since I am a citizen.

    In that case, infringement of your copyrights and the breach of that contract is a civil dispute, while theft is a criminal charge levied against me by the state.

    You Sir, have been brainwashed to think that Theft ever occurred, or could even occur. Why would you constantly be told by Big Media something that is so demonstrably false?

    It is far more effective of a deterrent to drag people into criminal courts for crimes than it is for copyright holders to spend money dragging everyone into court to defend their copyrights. Of course in most cases, people could never make it to the criminal courts since the state really is not interested in pursuing possibly several trillion different instances of this "Theft". They are far more interested in pursuing a single instance of several trillion different thefts. That, and more importantly, judges tend to interpret words and the letter of the law better than politicians and Big Media interests. No DA or judge actually believes you committed the act of theft.

    The mere threat of criminal proceedings and jail time is but a Paper Tiger and is hoped by many to be an effective deterrent.

    Of course, this is changing rapidly with new laws. It is still not the act of theft, but there are stricter criminal penalties for infringing upon copyright depending on the scope of the infringement. Most of that was intended to be confined to people actually making mo

  • Re:Notes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rpillala ( 583965 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:03PM (#26589171)

    Yeah I think you're mostly right. This is often reinforced at home where parents demand the same kind of blind obedience to themselves (parents), teachers, police, your boss, your commanding officer, etc.

    The problem is certainly present in schools but is not confined to them.

  • by rootrot ( 103518 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:21PM (#26589307)

    True that the notes are yours as work product and all that...the bigger issue is how "negative" this is to the whole concept of education, research and learning.

    I know in my econ (and stats, etc) courses, I *often* referred to earlier class notes in subsequent classes. I think it is really appalling that a teacher would actively seek to strip students of their academic output.

  • Re:NO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phoomp ( 1098855 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:35PM (#26589467)
    Next is to kindly ask the student to forget everything they may have learned as a result of the teacher's IP.
  • Re:NO (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Siffy ( 929793 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @12:57PM (#26589671) Homepage

    Possibly. The synopsis does not say if these were hand written or printed notes. It's getting damn common for teachers to just bulk e-mail the same powerpoint presentation for 5 years or more. I've had teachers that told us we had to print them out. For "free" on the university equipment that's paid for by student fees of course. Only the worst teachers do that, but it does happen. I think it really comes down to 2 words the submitter quoted, "our work". Which turns into "my work" which would mean they belong to the student.

    To the OP, I'd ask the original student asking, how did the teacher refer to the physical material. If she requested "your notes for the semester" then all else is irrelevant since she would be admitting the notes are the property of the students in her own words. Then it's theft, and the students should organize to log complaints with campus security, the dean of the college, the head of student services, and the president of the university if applicable. At that point it's just statistics as one of those people is bound to just be an asshole and in a position to screw that teacher pretty good. Forget the lawyer, look into criminal charges first. Students do have legitimate uses for notes after they've completed a class. Refreshing for graduate school exams would be the first to come to mind.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:24PM (#26589913)

    "A copying machine will do fine!"

    A scanner will do even better. If a teacher tried that shit with me I'd spend the time to type the notes (redacting anything that might refelect my style) and ensure they spread widely. I would instantly lie when asked for the notes, either that I didn't have them or that they were mixed with unrelated info.

    It is OK to lie to enemies, so be ready and be convincing.
    Friends deserve the truth, courts command it, but opponents should be defeated. The teacher removed any moral obligation to respect her when she demanded the notes.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:48PM (#26590159)

    Hope is the tool of con men and tyrants - remember that.

    It's also the tool of leaders and healers. Like any tool, it can be used for many purposes, some good, some not so good.

    My school experience was not entirely unlike yours. It takes a long time to overcome that kind of damage, but it can be overcome. Saying that makes me neither a con-man nor a tyrant.

    Cynicism, which I am much given to myself, can be as much a tool of tyranny as hope. "You can't fight City Hall" is a classic of cynical government propaganda.

    As with many things, finding the mean between the two extremes is the trick to being happy.

  • by rwwyatt ( 963545 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @01:54PM (#26590227)

    1.) The original victim should immediately report this to the proper authorities.

    2.) The original victim was correct by not fighting back. A little physical resistance may simply be blown out of proportion and end up in unintended consequences. For example, if I block someone with my shoulder, I can easily send someone to the ground. If they are intent on forcibly removing your items, make sure it is witnessed or by another person of authority. Being alone with a teacher is like being alone with most slashdotters, you will suddenly be covered in Vaseline.

    3.) Before completely vilifying the teacher, the full story should come out. The teacher may not be allowed to change the curriculum. Most teachers are in a no win situation, as the school boards prefer mindless automatons as both students and teachers.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Malevolyn ( 776946 ) <signedlongint@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:21PM (#26590439) Homepage
    Actually, this is very true. I'm tired of seeing stuff on Fark about England banning yet another harmless object because it's the tiniest bit dangerous. Likewise, I'm getting tired of no one in America having the backbone to stand up and simply refuse to do things like give up their notes just because a teacher says so. It may be a school policy, but if every student always refused, what would they do? The school would either quickly run out of money, or quickly axe that policy so they won't run out of money.
  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EconomyGuy ( 179008 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:21PM (#26590443) Homepage

    This is exactly the sort of response that make things worse. I'm all for *sticking* it to the teacher, but there are better ways that won't expose you to unnecessary accusations of being a bad actor.

    Every school has an ombudsman whose purpose is to negotiate conflicts between students and the administration / faculty. They are usually very pro-student. I have zero doubt this issue would be resolved in favor of the students, but you have to approach it diplomatically... scorched earth policies make as much sense here as they do in international relations.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:29PM (#26590517)

    You expect these people to all of a sudden become curious, critical thinking citizens???

    I agree. I went through high school in the mid-seventies, and it was an entirely different ball game. For example, I managed to acquire passwords to just about every active account on the school's mainframe: I didn't do anything with that information and I eventually pointed out to the administration that they needed to fix a few things (Good Samaritan-style: it would be too risky to tell anyone about a security flaw nowadays, they'd call the FBI on you.) So, I got in a small amount of trouble (they called my parents), but they fixed the problem and that was that. If I were in high school in present times ... hell. I'd have been up on terrorism charges at age 17.

    Still, it's all in the same vein: teachers/administrators want extraordinary powers in order to make their jobs easier, law enforcement wants extraordinary powers to make their jobs easier, copyright holders want extraordinary powers in order to make their jobs easier ... the list goes on. Nobody is willing to just deal with the fact that some things are legitimately difficult and that it's better for all that they be left that way.

    Also, some people honestly believe that if they just make the system harsh enough, make punishments severe enough, people will stop doing things that the powers-that-are don't want them to. In reality, of course, all they're doing is training a generation of people that have no respect for authority, because that authority doesn't respect them. Two-way street and all that.

  • Re:NO (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cor-cor ( 1330671 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @02:49PM (#26590707)

    I'm sure you're right in saying that she does not legally have the power to go into your backpack but it seems most people so far are forgetting the real power teachers have over students these days - grades.

    I remember a chem class where we were "allowed" to turn in our lab notebooks for points as the labs/prelabs were going to be the same the next semester, and they wanted to prevent straight up copying if they could. I would guess the students here are in a similar, albeit worse-sounding, situation.

    The students are well within their rights to refuse to turn over notes, or pull any of the copy-related stunts mentioned in this discussion. Problem is, the teacher is likely to have the power to go right home and dock them a letter grade or two, or, for example, require students to hand in notes to get the final exam. There just aren't a lot of options available to students if a professor's doing something wrong and they care about the class at all.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EconomyGuy ( 179008 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @03:54PM (#26591401) Homepage

    My comment was not directed at the act of scanning or retyping. From the parent:

    If a teacher tried that shit with me I'd spend the time to type the notes (redacting anything that might refelect my style) and ensure they spread widely. I would instantly lie when asked for the notes, either that I didn't have them or that they were mixed with unrelated info.

    The distribution and the lying is what makes this a bad act and is what turns sympathetic victims into petulant students. Why give up your best asset -- innocence -- with such a childish strategy? Is the point to win, or is the point to cause damage... because I for one prefer winning, and that means adopting strategies that work, even if there are more vindictive ones available.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @05:16PM (#26592257)

    I guess that would be childish, but it wouldn't even bother the teacher. They just want to throw the notes in the trash, they won't even read them. As this was High School, they'll just grab whatever you mixed them with and trash that too.

    He does have one point.. if you used a note book by "day" rather than class and this teacher seized it, you would actually get sympathy from your other teachers. There's no "rule" that says you have to have one notebook per class.. perhaps you like to take notes per month. If the teacher was trashing notes for 5 other classes you still had to take exams for that would get the other teachers on your side.... again, it's the teacher TAKING the notes at fault, not the student.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by david duncan scott ( 206421 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @06:20PM (#26592863)

    The distribution!?

    This was an economics class. Do you figure that the instructor was presenting entirely new material, or was she, in fact, distributing the distillation of her own classes and reading?

    I'm just an ignorant yutz, but I have taken a couple of college classes, and an NDA was never part of it.

  • Re:NO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkSarin ( 651985 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:09PM (#26593377) Homepage Journal

    This is correct, in principle, but I think you'll find that in practice what happens is that in MOST courses there is enough wiggle room for the 'teacher's ire' factor, which means that the teacher suddenly starts being much harsher regarding length of paper, grammar, and other 'soft' portions of the grading criteria. Of course, in some courses (physics) there may not be a paper, so that's out--but there are an AWFUL lot of courses with a 'class participation' grade, which very frequently boils down to 'don't tick me off'. It can often make the difference if you are near the edge of a letter grade (A vs. B, etc), and can either hurt you a lot or significantly help you if the teacher is pleased with your performance.

    In any case, this is a VERY bad idea on the part of the teacher. It WILL backfire--if the teacher can't find a more creative way to prevent cheating then she needs to be fired.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EconomyGuy ( 179008 ) on Saturday January 24, 2009 @07:15PM (#26593431) Homepage

    That there is, in fact, a time and a place for scorched earth politics? Certainly what I would have thought if I had just been bruitally run out of my own city by Napoleon.

    I never said otherwise, just that instances are far and few between, and even less so between a student and school administration.

  • Re:Notes? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by david duncan scott ( 206421 ) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @12:32AM (#26595609)
    Her demand was irrational and unreasonable, and she needed to be defied from the get-go. Class notes are the student's interpretations of the material presented during the class, and no more belong to the teacher, whatever her reasons, then the student's memories.
  • by Teancum ( 67324 ) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @01:34PM (#26599095) Homepage Journal

    Basic items that are spelled out in the Bill of Rights are so fundamentally basic that it is implicit that they may not be violated under any circumstances unless there is a strong and compelling public interest to the contrary... aka yelling "FIRE!" in a public setting when nothing is burning (context applies here too!)

    In terms of the application of the 1st and 4th amendment rights between private persons, any contract that would violate these basic rights including the right of search and seizure are invalid and would be found to be illegal. You can deny entry to somebody who chooses not to comply, but you can't do a search after you have let them onto your property without due process and just cause. It doesn't matter if this is a private school or an airport, the same principles apply.

    Any contract that requires you to either perform or go through a process that is illegal is null and void. This is like saying that it is valid to sign a contract permitting you to get raped whenever you get onto some piece of private property. Yeah, I'd like to see that one get enforced.

    BTW, the 1st amendment issue here is in regards to the use, transcription, and publication of lecture notes. I am asserting here that the student is free to take legitimate scholarly quotes of the professor and to use them in the process of note-taking that not only can't be confiscated, but can even be published commercially if the student desires. There is nothing even a private school can do to stop such actions by a student, as it wouldn't even be copyright infringement as long as the student follows legitimate fair-use practices. A school policy to the contrary would be found to be illegal, even at a completely 100% privately (not even federal student aid) funded institution.

    By accepting the tuition and application of the student, the school/university has an implied contract to teach the student, so they can't even expel a student for violating such a policy that prohibits the keeping of notes.

  • Re:NO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:36PM (#26602665) Homepage


    So what?

    The teacher should be arrested for property theft.

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson