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D.C. area school district claims copyright on student and staff work

Updated Feb. 4, 2013 at 1:33 PM
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Prince George's County Board of Education in Washington, D.C., is looking to copyright work produced by students and faculty. The Board of Education decided it wanted credit for innovative curriculum and apps created on district-owned iPads, but went even further.

“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,” the policy reads. “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.”

Some question whether the Board of Education should own students' assignments and other work. Prince County Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs admits overreach in how the policy is currently written, telling the Post the board "needs to restructure" the language. The policy can still be amended at the next board meeting.

Peter Jaszi, a law professor with the Glushko-Samuelson Intellectual Property Law Clinic at American University, said there would have to be agreements between the students and the board to allow the copyright. A company or organization cannot impose copyright on “someone by saying it is so. That seems to be the fundamental difficulty with this.”

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