One Washington School District Is Trying to Copyright Homework

The Atlantic

One school district in Washington is looking to put a copyright on everything created by their employees or students, which means they would own new lesson plans, an app created in a computer science class, or even just your everyday homework. The Washington Post's Ovetta Wiggins reports Prince George’s County Board of Education is raising eyebrows for their proposed new policy. As it stands, the policy is quite clear in its intentions: 

“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.”

The school district is basically trying to enable a terms of service similar to the Instagram one that caused so much controversy. But, like in that situation, the question becomes: why? Why would Instagram want to own pictures of your cat, or latte art? Why would the school district want to own your homework, or a teacher's lesson plan?

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Prince County Board Chair Verjeana M. Jacobs said they never intended to declare ownership over others' work. Their intention was simple: if a Prince George teacher were to create a new lesson plan that eventually hit the open market, then they would like "the district to get the recognition." Believe it or not, lesson plans are an increasingly lucrative market, as are educational apps. (Invest accordingly.) 

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But thankfully Jacobs already recognizes the overreach in how the policy is currently written, telling the Post the board "needs to restructure" the language. The policy still has a chance to be amended or approved when it's taken up at the next board meeting. 

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