University – Take Notes But Keep Them to Yourself

Intellectual property claims of university classes leads to questionable consequences for students and the society. Some – undoubtedly very important – Harvard university professors try to protect the ideas they present in lecture and control the ways students can use them for study and professional life. The university of Texas even suggests professors to make student sign a paper stipulating that: They can take only one set of notes of the ideas expressed during class, are prohibited to distribute and share it with others and may not make any commercial use without prior explicit permission.

These professors and universities obviously missed the whole point of education: Sharing information, communicate, link different ideas, points of views, leading to new perspectives and insights. Trying to prevent exactly this very essence of education leads to poor schooling consisting of just memorizing facts and figures without explaining them. The urge of copyright protecting university ideas also suggests a lack of memory and historical understanding. The very same professors owe their ideas and their position to the compiled and freely accessible knowledge of generations of previous thinkers. Our whole society is based on specialization and transmission of experience. Preventing that from happening by limiting the flow of ideas and information is thus undermining the very bases of our well-being. While the professors having secured positions, knowledge and pensions – to the contrary of society as a whole – can safely therefore ignore such consequences, it makes me think they may have missed some lessons of common sense and general interest. Or maybe they don’t dare to apply them, because they couldn’t buy the copyright.

Source: Ludwig von Mises Institute

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