Education News (Free Education Now!)

Page 4 of the Free Education Now! campaign, 1999-2000.

Quotes from news articles on notes companies gathered from various sources, 1993-2003.

From The Boston Globe, October 25, 2003

BU tries to fail business selling lecture notes. By Marcella Bombardieri.

Boston University professor James Johnson walked into a freshman science class one recent day to find every seat covered by a flier: A sample page of notes from the previous week's lecture on one side, backed with an advertisement for a new company called Beantown Notes, which buys class notes from BU students and then sells them back to other BU students... But now BU wants to shut the company down for stealing its intellectual property, saying that what Beantown Notes is doing is illegal. This week, BU general counsel Robert B. Smith sent the company a "cease and desist" letter threatening legal action... "I figured they had the professor's permission," said the student, who quit when she learned they didn't.

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From the Daily O'Collegian, April 17, 2001

The Right of Intellect (Editorial)

When someone creates something, it should belong to the creator. That is the basic precept of intellectual property. Where, however, does that notion stop? Take, the former note-sharing Web site. The site's main draw was class notes from classes at universities. Students could log on and find out what they missed while they slept in (or took one-legged orphans to visit a senior citizens home).

Professors uniformly denounced the site, complaining that those notes were their intellectual property... is dead, as is competitor Time to go to class.

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From MIT News, April 4, 2001

MIT to make nearly all course materials available free on the World Wide Web: Unprecedented step challenges 'privatization of knowledge'

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology...announced today it plans to make the materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the Internet over the next ten years... MIT President Charles M. Vest said of the program: "MIT OpenCourseWare is a bold move that will change the way the Web is used in higher education. With the content posted for all to use, it will provide an extraordinary resource, free of charge, which others can adapt to their own needs. We see it as source material that will support education worldwide, including innovations in the process of teaching and learning itself."

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From Lingua Franca, March 2001

May the Course Be With You: Universities claim the right to sell classes on the internet. The faculty strikes back. by John Palattella

... The rise of the Internet and the lure of lucrative on-line distance-education programs have suddenly and unexpectedly made courses a hot commodity... Though some recent studies have argued that university-based on-line learning is unlikely to offer sustainable growth or profit, the issue of course ownership is now out of the bag. And as the latest power struggle in the university system, it's not going away... Charles Nash, a professor emeritus of chemistry at UC-Davis, recounts a horror story about another UC-Davis professor who visited the Web site of a commercial note-taking firm and found notes for one of her courses. "She went through the roof," Nash says, because she felt that the notes, which had been posted without her permission, carelessly "misrepresented her point of view and opinions. In her view, they made her out to be anti-Semitic, which is of course not true." ...Signed by Governor Gray Davis this past September, Assembly Bill 1773 was conceived as a reaction to several Internet-based note-taking services that were selling their wares to University of California undergraduates. The bill prohibits the recording of all or part of a professor's live lecture without the professor's permission... [John Palattella's essays and reviews have appeared in Lingua Franca, Dissent, Newsday, and other publications].

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From the Purdue Exponent, February 12, 2001

Students should go to class, take notes [Editorial]

Get ready, class, the topic of today's lecture is plagiarism. Don't take credit for work that isn't your own. For that matter don't get paid for work that isn't your own. Students who sell their notes taken in class to online or local notes companies are committing plagiarism. Sure, you aren’t passing the work off as your own, as the class the notes were taken from is properly listed, but you are being paid for the recopying of someone else's work... Professors are hired for, among other things, assembling the lectures you take notes on. It's their job...

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From the Purdue Exponent, February 12, 2001

Professor opposes sale of notes, by Dave Stephens

When a student takes notes during class, there is an unwritten rule that the student will use those notes only for academic purposes... Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology, started a campaign to stop Internet notes sites from selling professors' notes. Deflem said that a professor's lecture notes were a matter of intellectual property rights and that the distribution of notes should be at the discretion of the professor. "Professors are all about sharing their work," said Deflem, "but I want to share my work in the way I want it to be shared."... "Many universities and colleges now have policies that prohibit the sale of notes based on intellectual property rights. In the state of California, it is even a law," said Deflem...

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From USA Today, February 7, 2001

Dot-bomb's fallout holds lessons as layoffs mount; When imploded, its employees were blindsided --and jobless, by Stephanie Armour

"Daniel Brecher, a senior project manager at, was so sure about his financial future that he splurged on a silver 1958 Porsche Speedster convertible, which he adorned with a vanity plate reading VERSITY... Some workers who had relocated to San Diego were laid off just days after moving. Investors who poured millions of dollars into the company got nothing, and some former employees still are out of work or paying off credit card debt they ran up before they were fired... Former employees describe what happened next as a firing frenzy. By mid-May, they say more than 90 workers had been laid off with more job cuts to come. They say some of the fired employees had just arrived, with families in tow and belongings in storage... By August, about 5 months after the market began its swoon, virtually all of employees had left or been laid off."

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From The BG News, via University Wire, January 17, 2001

Internet Companies Lacking (Staff Editorial)

New companies had sprung up, such as, to capitalize on the fervor created by online bookstores and Barnes and Noble... And boy did they have some advertising campaigns... Online student bookstores aren't the only Web companies trying to make a profit off college campuses. Sites such as and College Campus offer lecture notes from a range of University classes across the nation.

But now that the industry is slowing down by slamming on the brakes, these Internet companies are finding themselves just as susceptible, if not more so... It's only as these Web sites are closing down that we realize the lack of impact they've had upon campus life... Online lecture notes didn't fare as well, either. Professors resorted to class attendance policies and copyrighting their notes... These Internet companies marketed toward campuses are disappearing, one at a time. And nobody seems to mind.

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From the Minnesota Daily, December 1, 2000

Policy monitors posting of U. Minnesota lecture notes online, by Sam Kean

A policy condemning the publication of lecture notes online has been amended to protect students... Under the new rule, students cannot distribute lecture notes for commercial purposes without the express written consent of the instructor. Possible punishments range from warnings to expulsion... The policy targets companies who purchase lecture notes from students and post them on the Internet for profit; it also forbids students from posting lecture notes on private sites that receive ad revenue...

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From the Cavalier Daily, December 1, 2000

Online notes promote laziness, intellectual theft, by Laura Sahramaa

[I]n the end, and sites like it aren't good for anyone... Relying on online notes and skipping lectures... means students aren't getting what they paid for -- or, more accurately, what their parents paid for, with their tuition... Besides the fact that online note-taking sites enable uber-slacking, there's also the fact that supporting sites likes these is wrong, because they are based on a form of stealing. When students get paid for summarizing their professors' lectures, they are profiting off work that is not their own. Ethically,... selling notes to these companies and supporting them through visiting their sites is clearly wrong. A university is only as good as its professors...

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From the Indiana Daily, November 13, 2000

Indiana University students wait to receive checks from note takers' Web site,
by Ben Lincoln

Indiana University senior Laura Hammer was counting on the $ 800 promised to her by, an academic Web site that offers class notes to about 150 colleges nationwide and money for those who provide the site with notes... But months after the company's guaranteed payment date, and after several e-mails from Hammer, the company's CEO Oran Wolf wrote back, suggesting he was not as optimistic about the reimbursements as he had previously been... "We have recently required a lot of unanticipated debt," Wolf said. "It has left us with basically no money to pay Laura or other note takers..."

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From The Post, October 25, 2000

Student Advantage Inc. and Not Under the Same Roof, by Jennifer Furia was bought by, the number one college-orientated Web site, according to a report from Media Metrix and PC Data Online... CollegeClub Inc. filed for bankruptcy, and Boston-based Student Advantage Inc. soon acquired it... But there were some assets of that Student Advantage Inc. did not wish to acquire, one of them being One reason that Student Advantage may have had a lack of interest in is the controversies surrounding whether offering a professor's lecture notes online is considered copyright infringement... The future of these free online lecture notes is unclear because no company has purchased

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From the Northern Star, October 25, 2000....

Most know better than to rely on online notes

In response to your recent editorial on commercial lecture note companies (Oct. 19), several clarifications are in order. The bill that passed in the state of California does not ban the posting of notes online, but only the distribution and sale of lecture notes without the permission from the instructor. Teachers can (and many teachers, myself included, already do) post their own materials online. That is perfectly acceptable because teachers ought to be in control of their own teaching, relying only on the feedback from their students... Students and teachers should and can exercise their rights from one another without interference. With a misguided support for note companies, it is ironic that some actually would be willing to relinquish their rights to education in favor of a dependency on the fickle market of e-commerce. (signed) Mathieu Deflem.

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From the Wallstreet Journal, October 19, 2000....

Business bulletin, by Pamela Ridge Sebastian

A Footnote on college note-taking services tells a familiar dot-com tale. Academia mounted a strong campaign to stop the unauthporized sales of lecture notes during the past year, but competition may have meted an even stronger blow to the fledgling businesses that buy notes from students and post them online, says Mathieu Deflem, a professor at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., who opposes the note-selling on ethical grounds. Since last fall, the dot-coms have dwindled from a dozen or so to just a few... California last month passed a law barring the sale of lecture notes from its colleges without the teacher's consent.

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From the PR Newswire, October 19, 2000

Court Approves Student Advantage, Inc. Purchase of

A Federal Bankruptcy Court today approved the sale of substantially all of the assets of, Inc., including its popular Web site,, to Student Advantage, Inc., the commerce connection for millions of college students and the businesses and universities that serve them. The acquisition, first announced August 22, is expected to be completed by October 30... will retain its name and brand identity and operate as a division of Student Advantage, Inc... The purchase price consists of approximately $7 million in cash and 1.4 million shares of Student Advantage common stock and the assumption of certain liabilities... Student Advantage did not purchase certain other College Club properties, such as and Izio...

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From the Daily Pennsylvanian, October 10, 2000

University of Pennsylvania faculty tackle copyright issues, by Stacy Humes-Schulz

Currently, the Faculty Senate is looking at Penn's proposed policy on copyrights, drafted last spring --which applies only to faculty, not students or staff... With Penn's proposal, the copyright would now, with key exceptions, rest with the faculty member... "If you give a lecture, the lecture that you're giving verbally is non-copyrightable," Provost Robert Barchi explained. "[However, t]he copyright exists immediately when you reduce something to concrete form," like when a professor types out a lecture before delivery...

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From The Daily Free Press, October 2, 2000

Web lecture notes: student's savior, professor's bane, by Scott Brooks

Students, take note. The rapidly growing practice of obtaining unauthorized lecture notes from the Internet may soon be obsolete, if recent legislation banning online lecture notes in California goes national. The new law, signed by Gov. Gray Davis, combats bad attendance and preserves the integrity of professors' lectures... College of Communication Dean Brent Baker described the distribution of lecture notes as "morally wrong." "I spend a lot of time preparing for my lectures, doing my homework," Baker said.-

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From The GW Hatchet, October 2, 2000

Company eliminates online note services, by Katie Hallenbeck

Online notes publisher no longer emphasizes its note-taking services after a merger with Students searching for online are forwarded to, a Web site that offers academic tutorials in a variety of subject areas... came under intense national scrutiny after some professors said their lecture material from class is "intellectual property" that cannot be published or reprinted without their permission. Professors also said students benefit from class attendance and should not rely on the online notes... Although continues to offer some notes online, the site's policies for purchasing and posting notes have changed.-

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From the Daily Bruin, September 29, 2000

Calif. law will prohibit sale of lecture notes on Web, by Hemesh Patel

Starting next year, students at University of California-Los Angeles and any other public college campus in California will not be able to access lecture notes from commercial companies. AB 1773, a bill Gov. Gray Davis signed last week, prohibits the unauthorized recording and publication of a professor's lecture at any UC, CSU or community college campus... This bill is the first of its kind and states including Florida, New York and North Carolina have inquired about the new legislation, according to Dennis Hall, legislative director to assemblywoman Gloria Romero, D-Monterey Park, the bill's author... Officials at, an online note-taking company which recently merged with, said they are not sure whether or not they will continue to post lecture notes on the Internet. "We are currently reevaluating that piece of business," said Lisa Wayne, spokeswoman for "No lecture notes are posted yet."x

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The Daily Californian, September 28, 2000

Editorial: Lecture Notes Will Protect Students From Illegitimate Services

Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill last week prohibiting unauthorized notetakers from selling or distributing lecture notes to students at all colleges and universities in California, including UC schools... Black Lightning is the only note-taking service that currently holds a licensing agreement with the university. UC Berkeley lawyers have successfully fought other fly-by-night companies in court. Most of these other companies have a history of providing students with unedited notes that are factually incorrect. Some shut-down half way into the semester, leaving students short-changed and desperate... Students should stick with notes taken with the university's approval. Not only are they the only fair notes, but they are also the most correct ones.x

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The Daily Californian, September 26, 2000

Legislation Forbids Lecture Note Sales, by Eric Hyun

Students who would rather purchase lecture notes from online companies than attend class may soon find themselves scurrying to class at 8 a.m., due to a bill Gov. Gray Davis signed over the weekend. The bill, authored by Assembly member Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, prohibits the commercial sale or distribution of lecture notes at any UC, California State University or California community college campus, as well as at private universities in the state.Companies that sell lecture notes without consent of the university's administration and faculty are now subject to a civil penalty.

Unauthorized lecture note companies are a growing problem despite previous actions taken by UC Berkeley officials, said Michael Smith, the campus' assistant vice chancellor of legal affairs. The main problem with online lecture note providers is it is difficult to ensure the accuracy of their notes... Intellectual property and copyright concerns were also key issues that influenced the bill...

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From the Chronicle (Duke), September 7, 2000....

Shut Down: Universities fight the online notes phenomenon, by Ambika Kumar

Since dozens of online class note-publishing companies invaded the Internet a little over a year ago, the academic world-and even one state government-have taken measures to fight back... Duke, too, issued a policy on intellectual property rights late last year following's activity on campus... "Teachers should be in command of their own classrooms. The teacher doesn't only have the right but has the responsibility to teach his or her class," said Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University...

Some online companies have been feeling the heat., bought out by online campus community-in April, may no longer have financial backing... But will not buy the assets to "We decided not to put in the agreement because their business model didn't really compliment ours," said Heidi van Vliet, associate manager of public relations for "We do need to protect our university relationships because we work very closely with many of them. historically has not worked in conjunction with universities." The deal to buy's assets will not be completed for about eight weeks.

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From the Daily Iowan, August 30, 2000

Online Notes Irk University of Iowa Profs, by Jessi Todden has recently come under scrutiny at Iowa State University for posting lecture notes on its Web site --a practice which some consider theft of intellectual property. ISU recently outlawed students from selling notes to companies such as without first getting permission from the faculty member whose class the notes would cover... The University of Iowa has no policy concerning the companies, although some professors have been grappling with the issue for some time. "I've been against any note-taking service coming into my class for about 10 years," said Jay Holstein, a UI professor of religion. "It's counterproductive for students to buy notes rather than attend class."

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From the Iowa State Daily, August 25, 2000 outlawed from Iowa State U. campus, by Robin Larson

Students who sell their class notes this year to Internet sites could face disciplinary action. To protect intellectual property rights, Iowa State Univeristy officials are taking a stand against Web sites that hire students to post class notes. A new policy prohibiting the unauthorized sale of others' intellectual works took effect this fall... Michael Kenealy, professor of animal science, said the sharing of notes becomes a problem "when someone is taking my notes and making a profit without a contract with me..."

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From Upside Today, August 22, 2000

School's out for, by Adam Feuerstein

Student Advantage Inc. (STAD) has agreed to purchase the assets of troubled community website for about $18.25 million in cash and stock. On Monday, CollegeClub, beset by financial shortfalls and employee layoffs, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection... The purchase price consists of $7 million in cash and 1.5 million shares, or 4.5 percent, of Student Advantage stock, trading at $7.50 per share this morning... The deal is subject to approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego, where CollegeClub is headquartered. In June, CollegeClub withdrew an $85 million initial public offering and put itself up for sale. At the same time, the company’s founder and CEO resigned, and an undisclosed number of employees were fired to cut costs... The problem, of course, was that CollegeClub could not generate enough revenue from its relatively large member base. The company lost $25.8 million on $2.9 million in revenue during 1999, all the while rapidly burning through its remaining operating cash.

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From PR Newswire, August 22, 2000

Student Advantage, Inc. Agrees to Purchase Substantially All of's Assets

In deciding to acquire, Student Advantage Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Raymond V. Sozzi, Jr. said, "We expect to bolster considerably the business potential of" Student Advantage has proprietary commerce relationships with nearly 50 national retailers... " has created an online suite of community services that resonates with the college student marketplace," Sozzi said... [Some] assets of, Inc., such as and Izio, are not being acquired by Student Advantage...

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From The Boston Globe, August 22, 2000

Student Advantage Said To Be Buying Out Troubled Rival , by Steven Syre and Charles Stein, Globe Staff

Though CollegeClub managed to attract a huge student following, it was driven to serious financial trouble in the process. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankrupty protection yesterday, sources said. Acquisition of CollegeClub assets will be subject to the approval of a Bankruptcy Court judge... Though its assets are selling at bargain-basement prices, CollegeClub had been contemplating an $85 million initial public stock offering just two months ago. The company pulled its IPO registration in June, when chief executive and cofounder Michael Pousti resigned. CollegeClub's chief operating officer, James DeBello, quit soon thereafter... Other surviving public competitors have been struggling in the stock market... Shares of Washington-based Varsity Group Inc., which went public at $10 each in February, traded below $1 yesterday. Student Advantage has hardly been immune from stock market problems. It went public at $8 per share in June 1999, and the stock peaked at $28 in December. But those shares have tumbled to as low as $3.0625 this year and finished yesterday at $7.0625.

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From the Business Wire, July 5, 2000

iPrint Signs Multi-Year Contract for CourseNotes,... print shop and print infrastructure provider located at, today announced that it has signed a multi-year agreement with CourseNotes, Inc. ( Instead of going to their school bookstore... [c]ourse materials are printed, assembled, and delivered in a matter of days. "CourseNotes is shaking up the university market...," said Royal P. Farros, chairman and CEO of iPrint. "Our technological backbone, ability to scale, and strong printing network creates opportunity and advantage for us across the majority of business markets."

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From the Columbia Daily Spectator, June 28, 2000

Columbia University trustees pass revised intellectual property policy, by Sunnie Kim

In a move that solidified Columbia University's stance for the protection of its intellectual property, the Trustees, earlier this month during their annual meeting, unanimously voted in favor of a policy that establishes rules for the ownership of intellectual property created by faculty, staff, and students at Columbia... Last spring,... [w]ithout the consent of the University or the professors, assumed the rights to these notes, despite the fact that the information was developed and organized by Columbia faculty...

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The Node @ CanLearn, May-June, 2000...

Legal Battles Brewing Over Online Class Notes.

Many professors and administrators think that the posted notes violate professors' copyright, threaten their reputations, and jeopardize their control over their classrooms... Mathieu Deflem... has created this website collecting information about online note-taking sites. It also houses two of Dr. Deflem's position papers on the topic: one arguing the educational implications of note-taking sites, and another outlining the legalities of copyright in lectures.

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The Charles Street Standard, May 2000.

Studying 24/7: Virtual classrooms and property rights collide in cyberspace.

...Viewing the notes is completely free to any student or non-student from any campus on-line. But it is precisely this globalization of ideas that Dr. Gabrielle Spiegel, Professor and Chair of the Hopkins Department of History, opposes: "I do think there are serious issues of intellectual property that have been raised by the Internet, including the proliferation of notes." This past semester, Li Chu Cheng was a NoteTaker for Study I asked Li Chu why he had wanted to be a NoteTaker: "Besides the money, there isn’t enough cooperation between students..." It is obviously true that on-line notes promote absenteeism in class. Students will take advantage of the system and will skip class assuming that they can make up the lost time on the Internet.

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Badger Herald, May 13, 2000....

Online academic note services commercializing education

Yale University has recently joined the ranks of Harvard, Princeton, UCLA and several other universities that have successfully implemented policies against commercial academic notes companies... Many colleges and universities across the country are now discussing appropriate policies to secure a respectful environment in which students and teachers can fulfill their educational goals... [signed] Mathieu Deflem.

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From the Baltimore Sun, May 17, 2000....

Colleges take note of paid note-takers: Services that provide class summaries online stir controversy over intellectual property rights, by Ann LoLordo

The University of Maryland-College Park notified some firms of its ethical concerns about making money from a professor's work. At Harvard and Yale, officials reminded students that selling lecture notes violates university regulations. The concerns range from infringement of intellectual property rights to the integrity of the educational process. Online notes encourage students to skip classes, critics say... Sharing notes is one thing, professors say. Selling them is another... At least 13 companies are offering this service on the Internet to students, according to Mathieu Deflem, a sociology professor at Purdue University who has written on the issue...

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From Forbes Magazine, May 15, 2000...., by Adrienne Sanders

In the past year 13 Web sites, including, and, have posted lecture notes taken by students in thousands of courses at hundreds of schools. That has brought rebukes from Harvard, UCLA, Princeton and other universities... "These companies interfere in the student-teacher relationship and have no accountability," says Mathieu Deflem, a Purdue University sociology professor... The sites have raised millions of dollars in backing, aiming to turn a profit on advertising revenue. Versity, founded in 1997 by four 20-year-old college dropouts, landed $12 million from the likes of Venrock and Sigma Partners. just acquired it for an undisclosed sum. StudentU raised $6 million from Houston incubator NetStrategy...

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From The Oracle (University of South Florida), April 28, 2000

Students should not sell notes (editorial)

Students have been cashing in on their professors’ lectures by selling their notes to online agencies such as and This is unethical and students should have more respect for their professors than to sell a person’s intellectual property and research without consent... Whether legal or not, students should not make money off the intellectual property of another...

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From The Oracle, April 25, 2000

Online notes frustrate faculty, by Joe Humphrey

Professor Festus Ohaegbulam was surprised to learn Monday that one of his students is making a profit off of his lectures... "Why would the university allow that?" he asked while reviewing the students recollection of Friday's class. "This is my lecture."... At least one USF professor kept out of her classroom. Mass Communications associate professor Barbara K. Petersen has a policy of not allowing students to sell her class notes. It's spelled out on the syllabus of her communications law class... The University of California at Berkeley told and others they weren't allowed to operate there... "They don't care about the university," Petersen said. "It's a business".

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From The San Diego Union-Tribune, April 20, 2000

Big Dot-Com on Campus, by Leonard Novarro filed to raise $85.3 million in an initial public offering... The company also recently acquired, and Yesterday, the company also said it will also purchase It also secured an additional $55 million in financing, $40 million in series C convertible preferred stock through the Seligman Technology Group of New York and $15 million from a group led by Convergence Partners of Menlo Park. The company, which lost $25.8 million last year on $2.9 million in revenue, said it would use proceeds of the initial public offering to fund its growth.

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From The Defender (St. Michael's College), April 20, 2000

Online note services pay students to go to class, by Monique Mcginn

The problem, some instructors feel, is that student notes are the intellectual property of the professor. There is no requirement, when posting course notes, to include the professor's name or even to get permission... Professor Slaybaugh, Chair of the History Department, believes students should not be allowed to sell their course notes to these sites. "This wouldn't be a plagiarism issue but rather a matter of what we might call 'intellectual theft.' I wouldn't like it. It should be treated as a form of stealing,"says Slaybaugh... Junior Jason Harrington says he would post his class notes online. "I would do it for the money..." For biology professor Douglas Facey what's important is not students sharing notes but profiting from them. "The issue for me is who controls it (quality control), and whether someone else profits from it. I don't mind sharing these things for free, as long as it's my decision and I can regulate the quality of what is shared," says Facey.

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From the Business Wire, April 19, 2000 Acquires; Deal Brings Online Class Notes to Members today announced the acquisition of, a leader in providing online academic resources for students... "This acquisition expands's position within the academic space," said Michael Pousti, chairman and CEO of With the acquisition of, extends its lead in the rapidly consolidating college market. Other recent CollegeClub acquisitions include:,...,...,... and

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From Footnotes, ASA Newsletter, April 2000....

University4Sale-dot-com: The Educational Cost of Free Notes on the Internet,
by Mathieu Deflem

Website companies posting lecture notes raise concerns in terms of their anticipated effects and the problems they create in principle... At the heart of this problem, I believe, is a free-marketization of our educational system... Fortunately, over the past months several universities have reacted against the menace of notes companies and have developed and implemented appropriate policies...

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From The Daily Cougar, April 18, 2000

Rice University says no to online notes, by Eric M. Law

Rice University has joined a growing group of schools nationwide taking at least some action against Internet businesses that offer class notes online... Rice's Faculty Council met last week to discuss after hearing of conflicts over such sites on other campuses. The council decided the site does not protect intellectual property and that faculty members have no means of reviewing their notes that are posted. Therefore, note content may not be representative of what happened in lectures. "Our council will recommend to (Rice) President Malcolm Gillis that no commercial use of lecture notes or other course material be allowed," said Rice spokesman Bill Wilson...

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From The State Hornet (Cal. State, Sacramento), April 12, 2000 ...

Notes notes

Your recent article (March 29) on commercial note taking companies was appropriately titled "cash for classroom note-taking" because a major issue in this controversial development concerns nothing more nor less than money, at least on the part of the companies... Contrary to's self-presentation of success, the company has been attacked by students and teachers across the country. Many universities have already developed policies against the commercial sale of lecture notes, while many others should and will follow. As students and teachers alike, we deserve better than selling and buying notes. [signed] Mathieu Deflem, Purdue University.

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From the Michigan Daily, April 6, 2000 to test new notes program at U. Michigan, by Jodie Kaufman

Communications Prof. Susan Douglas told the company she was not interested in having them post her lecture notes online, but still posted her Communications 101 notes. "I post my own important definitions and key concepts on the Web and I think it is important for students to come to lecture," Douglas said. Douglas said she warns students to avoid using the Website because she has found mistakes in the past. "There is nothing I can do to stop it, I warn students to go there at their own peril," Douglas said. "I feel like we (professors) don't have any rights."

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From Entertainment Weekly (campus edition), Spring 2000...

Sour Notes? Uploaded lectures may be the future, but for some profs they're a real downer, by Adam Winer

Generally, it is not a good sign when your brand-new business is denounced on the op-ed page of the The New York Times. But that's the greeting a number of new lecture-note websites --which hire students to upload their class scribblings-- received last September when they began posting from more than 100 colleges... In its editorial, the Times argued the ad-supported sites would undermine higher education. Professors were also up in arms... "It is completely irresponsible," rages Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue. "Just imagine that every 10 minutes I have a break [in class] and say, 'Buy Coca-Cola.'"... "The value of direct student-to-faculty interaction in the classroom is irreplaceable," says John sandbrook, the UCLA assistant provots behind his school's cease-and-desist letter...

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From The Dartmouth, April 5, 2000

Online lecture sites cause angst in academia, by Amit Anand

The main controversy [over notes sites] has not been that students will stop going to class because of the free notes available online --although that has been of concern to many people-- but rather that the notes posted on these sites may have been obtained without permission from the professors... In spite of the recent controversy, both companies are going full steam ahead with their expansion plans... Whether sites like, and will be successful in the long run is yet to be seen, but no one can doubt their continually-expanding influence on campuses nationwide.

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From the Montana Kaimin, April 4, 2000.....

Commercial notes sites must be curtailed (letter)

Commercial notes companies intrude in the relationship students can and should enjoy with their teachers. They are neither responsible nor qualified to be involved in education and instead rely on the economic benefits of e-commerce. Fortunately, several universities have successfully implemented policies against notes companies. The latest developments in the world of commercial notes businesses, unfortunately, indicate it will not be an easy road, for the invasion of e-commerce in education has in many ways gained ground... (signed) Mathieu Deflem, Assistant professor of sociology, Purdue University.

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From the Stanford Daily, April 3, 2000.....

University should follow Yale's lead on commercial notes (letter)

The recent merger of Stanford's SSE Lecture Notes service with ensures approved lecture notes at Stanford only at the expense of a partnership with a commercial business that unashamedly posts unauthorized notes at many other campuses... I find it hard to believe that Stanford students and faculty would want to preserve their educational interests at the expense of those everywhere else where commercial notes businesses continue their invasions. However unfortunate it may be, that is exactly what the SSE-Versity merger represents... (signed) Mathieu Deflem, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University.

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The Stanford Daily, March 29, 2000

Yale forces to drop its lecture notes, by Deena Skolnick, a Palo Alto-based lecture-notes company, withdrew notes for classes at Yale University from its Web site at the end of February under pressure from the university. Stanford has not shared Yale's objections to the online notes service. Stanford Student Enterprises' Lecture Notes, Stanford's note-taking service, announced a partnership with on Jan. 23...

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From The State Hornet (Cal. State, Sacramento), March 29, 2000

Web site offers cash for classroom note-taking, by Christine Brownell

Floyd Lucureux, professor of computer science, said, "Some students will benefit from the process. But I am afraid that students will become dependent on the notes, and therefore skip more classes than they would otherwise and/or will not bother to take notes themselves. As a student myself, I found that a major amount of learning takes place when you hear a statement and then translate that to a set of notes and record the notes."... Gregg Campbell, professor of history said, "...If a student enrolled for credit in my class, wanted to sell his notes, I do not think I would have any control over his entrepreneurial spirit. It strikes me that this is a larger issue of academic governance"...

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From the College Heights Herald, March 28, 2000 getting noticed at Western Kentucky U., by Jed Conklin

John Wilson, a Madisonville freshman said he does not visit the site. "I know you get free lecture notes, but I usually go to class," Wilson said... Education professor Janice Ferguson says that she "wouldn't recommend anybody using it because the middle person may have a different perspective than the teacher."... Then there are the students that hate the site. Sean Murphy, a Louisville freshman, said he despises it... "You think it would go away, the advertisement is everywhere? why do I need to see it more?" Murphy said. "If you want notes, go to class. If you can't make friends, talk to the teacher. It's a waste to go online. I guess people are just lazy."...

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From the Yale Daily News, March 28, 2000

Versity to keep Yale notes offline, by Michael Horn, a website that provides online notes for classes at many colleges nationwide, took all Yale notes down before spring break after the University threatened legal action. Representatives from journeyed to Yale yesterday to meet with Yale officials, with the immediate result that the online notes company's services will not continue in any capacity at Yale.

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From the Business Wire, March 27, 2000

Banking Goes to Class: National InterBank and Study24-7 Form Strategic Alliance Bringing Online Banking to College Students

National InterBank ( today announced a new strategic partnership with ( that will bring online banking to college students. The new alliance creates Student InterBank, powered by National InterBank. Students who open a new account will have $15 added to their opening balances. The bank will be live in late April and will be accessible through Study24-7's Web site. "We are excited to partner with," said Ronald C. Hynes, vice president of strategic partnerships, National InterBank. "They have done an exceptional job of building a presence on college campuses across North America, and we look forward to leveraging this presence to bring the benefits of online banking to millions of college students. The college environment is an Internet-friendly market, making online banking a natural fit."

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From the Daily Princetonian, March 27, 2000

Long-standing policy keeps off Princeton campus, by Dana Pasternak

Though the Website [of] allows users to get notes for about 7,000 classes, it does not offer notes from any Princeton courses. Dean of Undergraduate Students Kathleen Deignan said she believes this lack of demand is the result of specific University regulations that preclude the sale of lecture notes. "The University has a policy that long predated," she said. This policy appears in "Rights, Rules, Responsibilities" and states, "Students may not engage in the publication or sale of abstracts or transcriptions of the lectures or required reading in any course of instruction in the University."...

When a recruitment advertisement appeared in The Daily Princetonian this fall, the administration sent a campus-wide e-mail and placed an advertisement in the 'Prince' to remind students of the University policy, Deignan noted. "We felt it was incumbent on us to go out there and to make people aware of the fact that this was a longstanding policy of the University," she said...

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From the Yale Daily News, March 23, 2000

Versity surveys as meeting approaches, by Louise Story

"[N]egotiations" will occur March 27 in a meeting between Versity's CEO Charles Berman and Yale's General Counsel Dorothy Robinson. But Robinson said that it is inaccurate to call the meeting "negotiations." From the general counsel's standpoint, the meeting is a only a courtesy. Robinson said that she plans to listen but that she knows how she feels about the situation --Yale students should use Yale's online note depot at Robinson added that Versity removed the notes because Yale demanded a removal. Not, as Versity asserted in the e-mail, because Yale asked them to. "This kind of misrepresentation doesn't bode well," she said.

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From the Daily Pennsylvanian, March 22, 2000.....

All About the Benjamins

A recent editorial ("Embracing a new medium," DP, 3/9/00) on commercial notes companies betrays some of the misconceptions on this recent invasion into our educational system.. [I]t is unwise to portray the matter as just a posting of notes on the Internet. The crux of the matter is all about who is in control of the distribution of notes and with what kind of intent. Also, totally obscured by a focus on rights are the many commercial aspects of notes businesses. The notes companies are financed by millions of dollars and are trying to expand and monopolize the market... No wonder that the CEO of one notes company called education a "commercial enterprise."...

Furthermore, company spokesmen have been spreading false information in the press. For instance, I read in an article ("Professors voice concerns over online note firm," DP, 3/6/00) that a representative of said that Yale University was the first school to demand that notes be removed from their site. That is simply not true. Princeton, the University of California at Los Angeles and other schools have done so as well... (signed) Mathieu Deflem, [Assistant] Professor of Sociology, Purdue University.

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From the Yale Daily News, March 20, 2000....

Yale leads the fight against notes companies (letter)

Congratulations to the students, professors and administrators at Yale for having the insight and courage to successfully halt the invasion of commercial notes companies! I hope that other colleges and universities will likewise show wisdom and develop appropriate policies. The latest developments in the world of commercial notes businesses, unfortunately, indicate that it will not be easy, for the invasion of e-commerce into education has been carrying on... With all this, it seems clear, the essential question is... whether as teachers and students we are still committed to service oriented learning and teaching, or whether we will become mere buyers and sellers dealing in product. (signed) Mathieu Deflem.

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From the Chicago Tribune, March 19, 2000.....

A New Class of Passing Notes: Internet Postings-For-Pay Unnerve Schools,
by Ted Gregory

Sprouting across the country in the last two years, e-businesses that pay college students for their notes are generating serious concern as well as praise. Critics say the enterprises corrupt classroom learning and violate professors' intellectual-property rights...

"The key is that commercial enterprises are intruding into the world of the classroom," said Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., a leading critic of the note-taking e-businesses. "The relationship in the classroom is very sensitive," said Deflem, who created a Web site last fall that serves as a clearinghouse of the commercial services ( "It is upheld only with respect and dignity. Students and teachers should be left alone with that."...

"I don't see anything positive in this," said Daniel Sutherland, a philosophy professor at UIC whose lectures are being chronicled by a student working for Sutherland called the note-takers "carpetbaggers." "I look at this," Sutherland said, while reviewing the student's notes, which he said included a handful of glaring errors, "and they're misrepresenting my words. I'm embarrassed. I don't want to have anything to do with it.

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From the Rice Thresher, March 17, 2000

Faculty Council to Discuss, by Olivia Allison

Faculty Council members will soon discuss whether the university should continue to allow students to sell lecture notes to Web sites such as, according to council spokesman Bill Wilson... A man dressed as a gorilla and a man in a purple velvet suit distributed flyers about Versity to students in the academic quad during lunch Wednesday. Campus Police Chief Bill Taylor said he was unaware of Versity representatives on campus but that soliciting students in this way is prohibited by the university's policies...

Economics Professor Kevin Hasker was upset when he found out that notes for his ECON 370 course were online and said he was in favor of university action banning students from selling their notes. "I am upset that it allows them to skip lectures without cost," Hasker said. "It seems rather dishonest - they're posting notes as I give them. I am disturbed at the idea that a student can [gain monetary] benefit from a lecture."

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From The Rice Thresher, March 17, 2000 .....

Universities take various actions against notes sites, by Olivia Allison

Several universities have taken action against, a Web site that recruits and pays students for lecture notes for university classes, which are posted online. Yale University sent a cease-and-desist letter to Versity Feb. 25 asking them to pull all notes from Yale courses off the site... The University of California at Berkeley also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Versity...

One professor's campaign:
Purdue University Sociology Professor Mathieu Deflem began a personal Web site against these types of Web sites when he learned about Versity in September 1999. "I was kind of offended because it is intruding on my work and on students' work," Deflem said... Deflem also writes letters and opinion pieces for various universities' student papers...

Deflem said he is so concerned about this issue because as a student, he would have been attracted by this type of site. "I'm so passionate [about this] because I nearly flunked out and eventually became a professor," Deflem said. "I oppose this because these sites don't encourage students to think, and students get sucked in without understanding the implications."

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From the Brown Daily Herald, March 15, 2000 .....

E-commerce intrudes on higher education

To the Editor: After reading “Class for Sale” (3/13) and some of the responses online, I’d like to add a few words about what these businesses really stand for... While many colleges and universities across the country are developing policies to secure a respectful environment for students and teachers, commercial notes companies have attracted millions of dollars in financing... The CEO of one notes company called education a commercial enterprise. Most recently, several notes companies are expanding and diversifying their businesses by acquiring other college-related enterprises, such as book-selling sites... [T]he question we are faced with is whether as teachers and students we are still committed to service-oriented learning and teaching in an environment of mutual respect and human dignity.
(signed) Mathieu Deflem, Purdue University.

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From the Minnesota Daily, March 15, 2000

Posting lecture notes is theft (letter)

There are three points I would like to make about the lecture-notes controversy. The first is related to the question of community. The American university is a community of scholars and their students. A variety of rules have emerged to protect learning and scholarship in this community... When you enter the university as a professor or student, you are agreeing to play by the rules of the intellectual community. Second, each lecture is a unique product. A lecture might be created from material that is already known, but the structure, pacing and quality is the result of painstaking effort on the part of the instructor... The third point relates to companies and individuals outside the university environment... When students post notes on the Internet, without the permission of the instructor, V[e] and others are running a fencing operation for stolen intellectual property... (signed) Matthew Lungerhausen, graduate student, history.

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From the Brown Daily Herald, March 13, 2000

Class For Sale (Staff Editorial)

Several Web sites, such as, have made hugely successful businesses of selling class notes for thousands of college courses at schools throughout the country --and college adminstrations, including those at several Ivy League universities, are responding with ire.

Many professors are angry that notes of their class lectures are being published and sold on the Web without their permission and often without their names attached to their work. Others are worried that inaccurate note-takers could spread misinformation and do more harm than good to the buyer. Almost every dissenter questions the academic integrity of these businesses... Online note services... [are] injecting money into a previously unselfish transaction and constructing a business that thrives on academic laziness... The spirit behind Web note services is anti-intellectual and selfish. Students should stick with the beneficent, one-on-one note exchange that has always flourished at universities instead.

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From the Indiana Daily Student, March 10, 2000....

Online notes hurt education system (Letter to the editor), by Mathieu Deflem

Many colleges and universities across the country are now discussing appropriate policies to secure a respectful environment in which students and teachers can fulfill their educational goals. The latest developments in the world of commercial notes businesses, unfortunately, indicate it will not be an easy road, for the invasion of e-commerce in education has in many ways gained ground... Most alarmingly, several notes companies are expanding and diversifying their businesses by acquiring other college-related enterprises, such as book-selling sites, college news sites and many more...

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From the Daily Pennsylvanian, March 10, 2000

Online Notes: Promise and Peril (Letter)

Everyone should embrace the productive exchange of information. And the Internet is going to change the way we learn and teach, just as it is going to change so many other things... I am concerned, however, by the editorial's uncritical embrace of online note services. Just because it is there and just because it uses the Internet does not mean that it is good. There is every reason to be suspicious of the value of a for-profit service that is dependent on convincing students that it is an authoritative source of information, especially when there is no quality control... (signed) Phil Nichols, Professor of Legal Studies.

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From the Daily Spectator, March 09, 2000

Columbia University Professors Object to Online Note Service,
by Jacob Kurlander

In one of several upcoming decisions related to issues of intellectual property, Columbia University will likely soon bar students from selling class notes to websites such as, which provides free class notes for over 6,900 college courses nationally. “The Committee on Instruction and I just agreed on a policy that says students may not sell syllabi, exams, or class notes,” Dean of Academic Affairs Kathryn Yatrakis said yesterday...

“I don’t know anyone in the University Administration who thinks it’s okay,” Associate General Counsel Beryl Abrams said... Law professor Jane Ginsburg, a co-chair of Columbia’s recently formed Intellectual Property Committee, said the concept of rests on shaky legal ground... “The notes would be worthless if they didn’t correspond to what the professor said,” added Ginsburg, a specialist in copyright law. “It’s clearly a copyright infringement, and they probably should be shut down.”...

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From the Columbia Daily Spectator, March 09, 2000

Online Notes Threaten Integrity (Staff Editorial, Columbia Daily Spectator)

Harvard, Princeton, the University of California system, Yale, and now Columbia are responding to worries about the integrity of selling the ideas of the professor and universities... Notes services like defeat the free exchange of ideas that should take place in liberal arts education. In the classroom, students and professors engage in a dynamic discussion and questioning; online notes services are without such a reciprocal learning process... At, learning and ideas are treated as commodities tradeable for money; the service may be free to users, but the notes are bought, and the site’s advertising indicates the commercial interests of the company. Ideas in the classroom are not commercially motivated, and when we treat them as commodities online, we risk becoming consumers rather than learners...

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From the Harvard Crimson, March 9, 2000....

Dot-Coms in Our Lecture Halls (op-ed), by Mathieu Deflem

Harvard, Princeton, Yale and UCLA are among the courageous universities that have in recent months successfully developed and/or implemented policies against commercial notes companies on the Internet... However, new developments indicate that commercial notes businesses have in many ways gained ground... We are witnessing... the appearance of a rapidly expanding education-commercial complex, guided by monetary concerns and technologically driven to intrude upon education and interfere in the commitment, dedication and respect we enjoy in our work...

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From the Daily Pennsylvanian, March 9, 2000

University of Pennsylvania examines legality of online note firm,
by Dana Klinek has not contacted any of the Penn professors whose notes are online. Penn Deputy General Counsel Wendy White said that the University has a committee currently looking into the site, which has notes posted for 52 Penn courses in a range of departments including Economics, Biology, Philosophy, Political Science and Computer Science. "It is an issue for the University whether Penn wants to permit this activity," White said. "The Provost's office and our office need to take a look at it, and we are."

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From the Montana Kaimin, March 8, 2000

Firm offers notes from University of Montana classes over the Internet,
by Emily Phillips

Students who don't go to class can get notes off the Internet for free, and students who go to class can get paid for taking notes... But University of Montana Attorney David Aronofsky said online note-taking services, like, and might put students in uncomfortable--and illegal--situations... The University of Vermont, the University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University have all taken action against Internet note services. Aronofsky said he thinks the actions of those universities are just the beginning

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From the Daily Pennsylvanian, March 6, 2000

Professors voice concerns over online note firm, by Jason Bodnar

Standing in front of the almost-full College Hall room 200 last Thursday at the University of Pennsylvania, History Professor Bruce Kuklick addressed his class about what he called a great "moral problem" Kuklick isn't alone in his concern. Last month, Yale University demanded that remove the lecture notes of its professors from its Web site, citing as reasons possible copyright law violations and university rules prohibiting students from participating in commercial enterprises...

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From The Guardian (London), March 7, 2000

Take note - Visiting Yale history professor Bernard Porter explains why he doesn't want to be represented on the net by a student's lecture notes - made for $ 8-$ 12 a go

An academic legal battle is looming in America over the activities of an internet company called But the issue most exercising the Yale authorities is that of 'intellectual property'. That is the ground of their complaint to A related concern is plagiarism. specifically instructs its reporters to avoid 'plagiarising a professor or any other source', but how can it be otherwise?... Often the notes are inaccurate... A basic rule we try to impress upon our students is always to cite their sources.'s practice offends against that. It also disables its customers from checking their sources...

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From the Campus Press (Boulder), Sunday, March 5, 2000.....

Students Missing the Point? Internet class notes may be undermining the very foundation of university structure, by David Hoeper

Over the past year, more than 10 Internet companies have emerged to offer free notes for thousands of lectures nationwide... A primary concern teachers have with these Web sites is that they might encourage students to take the university experience less seriously. "The availability of online notes could mean that students will start to develop a very short-sighted and narrow perspective of education that views teaching as merely getting the notes to pass the exam," said Mathieu Deflem, a CU graduate and outspoken opponent of this practice.

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From the Minnesota Daily, March 6, 2000

Critics of U. Minnesota online-notes ban argue free speech, by Liz Bogut

Some University of Minnesota students are upset that faculty members want to deny them the opportunity to make up to $ 2,000 a semester just by attending class... [O]thers were in agreement with the policy, saying it protects faculty members' rights and helps ensure the information is accurate. "I see things from the University point of view. I don't think students should benefit from professors' knowledge," said Sina Moassesfar, sophomore in the College of Biological Sciences... Moassesfar said the University should sponsor their own Web site where students can post their notes...

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From the Yale Herald, March 2, 2000

Versity Blues, by Justin Chen

This weekend, the Internet-based removed all notes for Yale courses from its website. The decision to take down the notes came shortly after Dean Richard Brodhead's, BR '68, GRD '72, announcement last week, emailed to all undergraduates, that Yale's Vice President and General Counsel had made a written demand that "cease posting notes from Yale courses on its website and remove any notes that had previously been posted."...

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From the Yale Daily News, March 2, 2000

Truth, profit, and the American way, by Joey Fishkin is a for-profit company that asks students to sell their notes for money... It's a lot easier to talk about supposed economic imperatives and the alleged "free market" than it is to think seriously about the morality of our choices or the choices we want our government to make... If we don't question our faith in the profit motive and the free market now, when we're in college and relatively free from financial obligations, then when are we going to learn to think about it? Now is the time in our lives when we're the most free to search for wisdom and truth...

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From the Harvard Crimson, March 2, 2000

Yale bars, by Keramet A. Reiter

Responding to professors' concerns about intellectual property, Yale University has demanded that, a commercial website that offers lecture notes, remove all notes for Yale courses from its online repository... "We directed them to take down from the website the notes provided and to not put up any more," said Lawrence J. Haas, Yale's director of public affairs... A series of professor complaints led to Yale's action...

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From the PrimeZone Media Network, March 1, 2000 Expands Content and Service Offerings with the Addition of Online Lecture Notes and Premier Study Guide Supplements, a premier global destination Web site servicing undergraduate and graduate students around the world, announced the acquisition of college lecture note leaders TakeNote[r] and TarHeel Notes... As part of the acquisition, the founders of TakeNote[r] and TarHeel Notes have received an undisclosed cash payment and equity stake in exchange for all joint assets... In conjunction with, the companies are planning to roll out their lecture notes service domestically and internationally via's network of global destination sites.

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From the Minnesota Daily, March 1, 2000

U. Minnesota faculty discuss constitutionality of online policy, by Liz Bogut

Faculty members and legal experts this week continue to debate the merit and feasibility of a proposed University of Minnesota policy restricting the use of online notes. The policy, requiring students to obtain permission from professors before posting notes online, was passed Thursday by a 67-46 University Senate vote... "The policy does not violate free expression but puts a commercial limitation on the use of class notes," said Judith Martin, chairwoman of the senate educational policy committee...

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From the Kansas State Collegian, February 22, 2000

Web site maneuvering to post lecture notes, by Angela Kistner, online access to lecture notes, is offering incentives to K-State instructors to aquire permission to display the instructors' notes on its site... Aruna Michie, a professor of political science who disfavors companies like, said offered her 100 shares of its stock if she would give the company permission to display her notes. "To me, that's unethical for me as a professor," she said. "I'm already paid to teach my class. It's not like publishing a book, which is research of my own."... The office of the provost at the University of Kansas has issued a statement that is on its Web site about commercial note-taking ventures. It states that the KU's Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct "permits you (faculty members) to prohibit an enrolled student from making commercial use of your lectures. Any close reproduction of a faculty member's lecture, such as is constituted by good class notes, is a use of property which, at the very least, belongs to the faculty member, who because of copyright laws may distribute, produce and prepare derivative works from lectures."

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The Battalion, Tuesday, February 29, 2000 .....

Letter to the Editor (In response to Julia Recindus' Feb. 23 article)

While I realize there is disagreement on the pros and cons of notes companies that pay money for class notes without the permission of the instructor, it is in any case less than useful to not be accurate about the intentions and practices of these businesses. Thus, the notetaker mentioned in your article who stated that a majority of professors would like the notes is simply not telling the truth, but engaging in deceptive advertising.

In actuality teachers from across the country have overwhelmingly spoken out against unapproved notes posted against their wishes. Among the criticisms are most strongly the intrusion of commercial notes companies into the dignity and respect that characterizes the relationships between teachers and their students. Unapproved notes do not just damage professors' rights to teach, they also severely hurt students' rights to learn and the accountability and responsibility they may and should expect from their qualified instructors...
(signed) Mathieu Deflem, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Purdue University (online copy).

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From the Chronicle of Higher Education, February 29, 2000

Course-Note Company Withdraws Materials From Yale Courses,
by Wendy R. Leibowitz, a professional note-taking service, has withdrawn from its Web site all lecture notes taken at Yale University's courses, after the university's general counsel demanded that it do so... Last week, the dean of Yale College, Richard Brodhead, sent an e-mail message to all undergraduates, notifying them that long-standing undergraduate regulations barred the selling of lecture notes... (full story online).

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From the Yale Daily News, February 28, 2000 agrees to remove Yale notes, by Michael Horn agreed late Friday afternoon to remove all Yale lecture notes from its website today, although this move is not the final resolution between and Yale. This... came only hours after Yale Vice President and General Counsel Dorothy Robinson sent a cease and desist letter Friday morning... Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead sent an e-mail message to students Friday telling them that entering into a commercial arrangement with is a violation of the Undergraduate Regulations... "What is the educational purpose and yield of all of this? It seems to me that the thing that has been most troubling about this is that it has been driven by commercialism," Brodhead said. "It is as if students found that their professors were selling their term papers to internet companies."... (online copy).

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From the Daily Californian, February 25, 2000

Judge bans note-taking service from U. California system,
by Anne Benjaminson

An Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a permanent injunction Thursday, barring an unauthorized note-taking service from operating on any University of California campus. The default judgement, issued by Superior Court Judge Ken Kawaichi, resulted from the failure of R&R Corporation to appear in court at any point during the eight-month lawsuit. The company sells lecture notes to students without university permission... While some professors have said they would like to see similar action taken against online note-taking companies, lawyers for the university said yesterday they have no pending litigation against any other note-taking service (online article).

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From the Minnesota Daily, February 25, 2000

Policy bans U. Minnesota students' use of online notes, by Liz Bogut

The Twin Cities Assembly Committee passed the policy, prohibiting students from distributing lecture notes for commercial purposes without prior consent from professors. The policy will take effect fall semester 2000... Under the new policy: Students may not distribute class notes, handouts or other instructor-provided materials for commercial purposes without the written consent of the instructor. The policy is enforceable under the University of Minnesota Statement of Standards of Student Conduct. Violations could range anywhere from a warning to expulsion. If an individual faculty member or the faculty of a department authorizes the distribution of class notes, the policy would not be violated... Even though the University has adopted a policy involving instructor consent, [Oran] Wolf [founder of] said he would not require it for his Web site. "We'd post it, anyway, whether or not we have the professor's permission," Wolf said. (full article online).

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From the Star Tribune, February 25, 2000

'U' cracks down on selling notes on Net, by Mary Jane Smetanka, Jay Weiner

Beginning next fall, University of Minnesota students who sell class notes on the Internet could be subject to discipline, including suspension or expulsion, under a policy approved Thursday by the University Senate... The Minnesota policy, which goes to President Mark Yudof as a recommendation, says that students could not distribute notes, handouts or other instructor-provided material for commercial purposes without the written consent of their teacher. Any student who does may be subject to discipline, from a warning to probation, suspension or expulsion... Other universities, most notably the University of California-Berkeley, have used similar policies to discourage students from posting notes on commercial Web sites. Some sites have dropped Berkeley from their pages. (online copy).

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From The Houston Chronicle, February 25, 2000

Uzone buys partytime publication: Deal includes Web site for college news, fads,
by Shannon Buggs

The company that encourages college students to visit its Web site for free notes when they skip class now wants them to think of it as a purveyor of primo parties. Uzone, a Houston-based Internet portal, gained notoriety last fall for paying collegians to post notes from courses taught on campuses across the country. On Thursday, the privately held company announced its purchase of the publisher of a Los Angeles-area college magazine, known for organizing spring break excursions... "What 28th Street does so well is get involved in the lifestyle of students," says Oran Wolf, president of Uzone and founder of the note-taking division of the company...

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From the Yale Daily News, February 24, 2000

Students shouldn't post notes on (Editorial)

History professor Jonathan Spence protested online note taking services last week in his History of Modern China class. He requested students to stop submitting their class notes to Spence's concern is warranted. His lectures are intended for his students are not open to public... Mutual respect, including respect for intellectual property, is perhaps the most important ingredient to a good relationship between a student and a professor at Yale... At the same time, all academics at an institution such as Yale must be committed to the highest principles of teaching. In return, students should be treated by their professors with respect for their opinions, their work and their contribution to Yale community. (online copy).

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From The Daily Iowan, February 23, 2000

Professors should remain wary of lecture-note Web sites, by Amy Leisinger

Students across the country, including those here at the UI, now have the option to retrieve lecture notes from the Internet on a variety of Web sites.... This practice makes professors leery.... [M]any fear that the availability of class notes on the Web will cause a decrease in class attendance... Online note services also tread the thin line between information that is fair game for commercial purposes and that which is intellectual property of the professors... In this sense, the steady increase of unauthorized Web sites containing lecture notes is a disturbing trend indeed... (online copy).

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From The Battalion, February 23, 2000

Taking Note of Online Services: Texas A&M students turn to Web sites
for class assistance, by Julia Recindus

Dr. Marlene Bradford, a history professor, said her biggest concern is that the availability of online notes will cause class attendance to decrease. "Students in classes where attendance is not required might quit going to class and rely on the student who is taking the notes to make judgments about what in the professor's lecture is significant," she said. "Someone may say that the direction of education is online learning. That may be true, but there is a big difference between a course that may be put online and the notes someone else may put online. My words are first-hand knowledge of what is required for the class, while the note taker's knowledge at best is second hand or even an assumption," she said... (full copy online).

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From The Associated Press, February 21, 2000

Professors divided over online notes (Iowa City, Iowa )

Bryanna Brodell doesn't want to use online services that offer class notes for free. That's not because the 20-year-old University of Iowa nursing student is worried that the notes won't be good. She's concerned they'll work all too well. "I won't go to class," she said. "It's too easy."...

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From Channel 4000 (Minneapolis), February 8, 2000

'U' Debates Online Notes For Pay

Should students take class notes then post them for profits online without their instructor's permission?... To some professors, Web sites that pay student note takers are profiting off their life's work, without getting their OK. They're also concerned about declining attendance, an abuse of the teacher-student relationship, not to mention the accuracy of notes never reviewed by the instructor... (see online copy with video () and discussion).

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From the Star Tribune, February 7, 2000 .....

Online note services lure students, rile professors, by Mary Jane Smetanka

[Professor Len] Kuhi is unhappy that notes for his class are being posted on Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, isn't waiting for lawsuits. Ending the posting of notes on commercial Web sites has become a crusade for Deflem, who tracks what's going on at his own site... His campaign began last fall, when he discovered one of the commercial sites was looking for someone to take notes in his criminology class... "There is a particular sacred quality to the relationship between professor and students, a very delicate and in some sense privileged relationship," he said. "My responsibility is to do the best job I can, and if I don't do it, well, students can come and tell me. My view is, nobody can barge in on that." Web notes, he said, are an "intrusion, interference in the classroom... It's not about having notes on the Web; it's about who's in control." (full story online).

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From The Pitt, February 1, 2000

Companies post University of Pittsburgh class notes online, by Tim McNellie

In the past, students who skipped class might have borrowed notes from friends or classmates. But now, in this digital age, there's an easier, faster way... [N]ow some private companies are paying students to publish their class notes online, regardless of whether the teacher wants them available. "I don't like it at all," said music instructor Andrew Weintraub, whose Introduction to World Music course was one of 22 Pitt classes with notes available at last semester. "I feel that it discourages students from coming to class. In my class, that's dangerous. You're not going to do well," he said...

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The Houston Chronicle, February 1, 2000

Houston-Based Web Site Acquires Dallas-Based Online Textbook Seller's parent company, StudyFree, on Monday announced it acquired The U Zone, a Dallas-based online textbook seller. As a result, the privately held StudyFree will change its corporate name to The U Zone... Along with notes from classes offered at universities across the country, the U Zone features an online calendar and planner; business, world, sports and entertainment news; free Web site space and an online textbook store...

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From the PR Newswire, February 1, 2000, Tuesday

The Uzone Launches New College Web Site Hub

The Uzone, creator of, the leading college Web site for free class lecture notes, announced today the launch of its newest college portal, In addition to providing products and services directly to the college market, offers a mechanism for local and national businesses to access the impressionable student market... (see online story).

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From the PR Newswire January 31, 2000 Parent Company Announces First Acquisition and Name Change...

StudyFree, the parent company of and leading Internet provider of online lecture notes for college students nationwide, announced today its acquisition of The U Zone Inc., the only online textbook retailer with an established local infrastructure for textbook buybacks. As a result of this acquisition, StudyFree will change its name and expand its current Web site network... "The U Zone acquisition brings StudyFree one step closer to its takeover of the online student market," said Oran Wolf, president of StudyFree. "More than 15 million college students nationwide spend an average of $300 per semester on textbooks..." Related to the acquisition, StudyFree will change its corporate name to The Uzone... (see online story).

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From the Rocky Mountain Collegian, January 31, 2000

The most meaningful lessons can't be learned online, by Maria Sanchez-Traynor

“College students are the only consumers that actually want less for their money.” I heard this quote along my travails of life and had to laugh at the truth of it... Now we don’t even have to go to class... We are not paying all this money to attend school just so we can get everything free off the Internet. If simply Web notes are used, you may remember the things you need for your next test, but you will not learn what you need for the future --a reason to keep on going (online copy).

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From Dispatches, January 26, 2000 .....

Throw out your notebook: Online class notes another reason for students to
sleep in, by Katherine Drouin Keith

...Not surprisingly, educators hate these sites. They say they belittle the education process, discourage students from coming to class and may even violate copyright laws. Some institutions may even be a step away from taking legal action against sites like, and "What's really at the heart of this is ... (professors) don't have a chance to say 'Yes' or 'No,'" said R. Anthony Reese, an assistant professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin...

Purdue University sociology professor Mathieu Deflem is fighting back against online notes sites with his own site, Notes sites are "invading our education and destroying all that students and educators work for," Deflem claims on his site... "More and more online companies are invading the free spaces of the Internet to infiltrate your minds, souls and pocketbooks," Deflem writes. "They are but profiteers who try to take away your right to real education by presenting students with what seem to be useful services." "Go to class and enjoy the company of real living people!" he exhorts. "Take your own notes! You'll love them!" (See the entire online story).

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From The Denver Post, January 23, 2000 .....

Web sites 'taking' notes: College profs rip companies for posting lectures
on 'Net for profit, by Dave Curtin

'I don't think we can stop it unless we can take it to the courts,' says Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., who has launched his own Web site to combat note-taking companies. 'If just one college takes legal action, it will set precedent for every college and university.' But Deflem says he 'abhors these companies' not on legal grounds but on educational grounds. 'These are private companies that have nothing to do with the university,' Deflem says. 'They are just out to make money. They completely lack accountability. They even say they don't guarantee the quality of the notes. Students expect me to be qualified and to have a Ph.D.... These companies are one manifestation of a broader trend in our society to succeed at all costs --no matter if it's legal or illegal, ethical or unethical... Freedom of expression is about being able to have arguments and disagree. But what are they doing? They are copying what I am doing. You have the right to express your opinion, but you don't have the right to copy someone else's.'... (full story online).

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From the Village Voice, January 19-25, 2000.....

Take This Down: Unauthorized Lecture-Note Sites Draw Profs’ Fire,
by Deirdre Hussey and Coco McPherson

More than 10 online companies now offer free notes for thousands of lectures in over 100 universities and colleges. These ventures, the largest being and, recruit "campus team leaders" or "campus operations managers" from the student body, who then locate notetakers and market the service on campus... Harvard, UC Berkeley, and UCLA have responded by reminding students that note-taking for profit directly violates the universities' honor codes...

Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, is one of the most outspoken critics of the services. Objecting to what he sees as the companies' intrusion in the learning process and their interference in the student-teacher relationship, Deflem does not accept their argument that posting notes is merely an exercise of free speech... Critics like Deflem claim that notes should not be allowed to represent their lectures—they are not only unauthorized, but often inaccurate... "School is supposed to be hard, you're supposed to work hard to get a degree," says Deflem. "Floating in this bubble of e-commerce, these companies are relying on a particular culture of getting it easy."...

Frustrated, Deflem claims to have made repeated efforts to have mention of his classes removed from (The company was looking for someone to write notes on his lectures.) After publicly criticizing the company, he claims, he was first denied access to the site, then offered the chance to participate in a contest to win a promotional television. When Versity finally contacted him, it was not to let him know the ads had come down, but to say they were willing to work with him. (See online copy, part of a special on education online).

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From The California Aggie, January 13, 2000

Debate over Web lecture notes continues at UC-Davis,
by Catlin Driscoll is currently seeking to include UCD in one of its pilot programs in which student notetakers will be hired from classes where professors have given prior permission... [S]tudent notetakers hired by will be required to complete a training tutorial and to pass a quiz... will not provide for proactive response from professors. Instead, professors will be able to respond through an online "feedback button" after the notes have been published.

Because of the increase in the number of online companies like that now provide lecture notes on the World Wide Web, UCD officials are on guard and concerned. According to UCD campus counsel Steve Drown, is one of two web lecture note companies to which UCD has sent "cease and desist" letters. On Tuesday, Drown and other administrators met to confirm UCD's position toward and similar corporations. Drown pointed out that the publishing of uncontrolled web lecture notes touches on a number of pertinent issues - copyright laws, online access and quality control are only a few examples of why UCD officials have become involved in this debate... "We want to cease and desist," Drown said. "Our greatest concern is to protect students and faculty. The university is not like a public park." (article online).

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From USA Today, January 13, 2000 .....

For sale: A prof's intellectual property or just the facts? Net entrepreneurs
duly note a niche in lecture notes, by by Mary Beth Marklein

Despite a chilly reception from some faculty and administrators, the surge in online companies that offer college lecture notes shows no signs of slowing this semester... [S]ome faculty and administrators object to the online versions, where notes are free and faculty typically aren't notified if their class is included.

"I'm a big fan of the Internet, (but the companies) just want to make a buck off of this," says Purdue University sociology professor Mathieu Deflem, who complains about the practice at his elaborate Web site ( mdeflem/education.htm).

Revenue comes from ad sales, out of which companies pay a student enrolled in a course to upload their notes from the professor's lectures., financed by investors for $ 11.2 million, pays note-takers by the lecture, with students earning an average $ 300 per class. note-takers can earn $ 1,000 a semester, depending on the traffic they generate... (article online)

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From the PR Newswire, January 11, 2000 Partners With College Instructors to Expand North America's Largest On-Line Educational Resource

In response to the on-going national debate over on-line education,, North America's largest educational website, announced today it is inviting instructors from colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada to make their lecture materials available to students through its website...

"Instructors will earn royalties from their Virtual Class Communities. They may choose to receive this royalty directly, or to allocate all or part of it to a scholarship program or faculty fund at their institution," said Craig Green, Co-founder of (online story).

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From The Associated Press, January 11, 2000

Rival sites take lecture notes to cyberspace, by Mark Babineck

Houston-based, along with rivals, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Miami-based, have gone nationwide with their lecture notes. They're free for anyone who surfs their sites, which generate revenue by selling advertising...

Wood, of Boston University, [suggested] that educators may reign in their thoughts if they believe anything they say could be posted on the Internet. "It could be a discouragement to faculty members who want to talk about their own unpublished research in classes," Wood said. "The stuff that goes out may be in a mangled form before it was ready to be published."
(see online copy).

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From ASC Statelines (AAUP newsletter), Winter, 1999 .....

Note-Posting Foes Return Fire:
In Class and Online, Concerned Faculty Win Allies

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the Internet,” says Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology and an AAUP member at Purdue University. Deflem is responding to charges that he and other critics of note-posting are simply fearful of new technology. “But the Web is just an instrument, which can be put to many uses,” says the Belgian-born academic who has emerged as a leader of the grassroots rebellion to pay-for-posting ventures. “And when a company deploys marketing techniques and sales strategies to make a profit, I have a hard time believing that it’s providing an educational tool.”

Starting this fall, Deflem put his HTML where his mouth is, setting up a Web site, to discredit note-posting companies by disclosing their practices and alerting faculty to legal precedents against infringements on their rights of authorship. On his site, Deflem criticizes eleven companies, including and

"These companies interfere in the relationship I have with my students, who feel the effects evenmore than I do," says Purdue University sociology professor Mathieu Deflem. In lamenting the lure of online notes, Deflem draws lessons from his own experience. “It’s the struggling students who are the biggest natural market for these companies, and I can relate, since I used to be one of them.”... (fulll article available online)

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From the Stanford Daily, January 10, 2000

SSE puts lecture notes online, by Eileen Chao

[L]ecture notes from the Stanford Student Enterprises will be available online starting Jan. 23. This is due to a new partnership between SSE's Lecture Notes and "Students can purchase the notes online by using their credit card," said SSE Distribution Manager Phillina Lai... Students will have an access code that allows them into the Web site to print out notes... The SSE must get professors' approval to sell their classes' notes, and Lai said some of them are more wary simply because on the Web, anyone is able to have access to the information. "Some professors just have moral concerns with lecture notes," Lai said. "They think that students should take their own notes for their own benefit."...

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From the Michigan Daily, December 13, 1999

Online notes companies lack accountability (Letter to the editor)

To the Daily:
A recent editorial in The Michigan Daily betrayed many of the misunderstandings concerning online notes companies and the severe damage they inflict upon our education ("www.don'" 12/8/99). Everybody has a right to free speech, but nobody has the right to interfere with the hard work of others. Professors, like all other teachers, do not just engage in free speech but in a carefully planned instruction of specific ideas and skills in a manner they judge beneficial to the particular goals of education to teach students. A classroom is most definitely not a public forum for the free distribution of ideas in which just anybody can participate. On the contrary, students expect their teachers to be qualified, skilled and responsible... I wonder if students (and teachers) realize the terrible price we will pay for relinquishing our responsibility and accountability to a private company outside the protective guidelines of our colleges and universities. (signed) Mathieu Deflem, Purdue University faculty (online copy).

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From the San Jose Mercury News, Sunday, December 12, 1999 .....

Colleges Attack Online Notes, by Anne Martinez

... Many colleges and professors argue class notes should be legally protected, much like lectures and handouts already are, and educators worry that online notes will encourage students to skip class. The dispute is only the latest example of how technology has rattled some ivy-clad traditions of higher education. While online registration and fee payment generally are praised for making college life easier, Web-based instruction and library access have radically changed parts of the familiar college experience over the past decade...

Professor's Revenge:
One angry Purdue University professor this fall launched a Web site to fight online note-taking services after he saw a campus ad for that sought a note-taker for his criminology class. ''I managed to persuade my students not to do it,'' said Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology. ''I told them if they sold notes, they would be violating the trust they should have with their professors.''... (online copy).

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From The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 26, 1999.....

Colleges Weigh Legal Action Against Web Sites That Publish Lecture Notes,
by Florence Olsen

Officials of the University of California's Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses recently mailed cease-and-desist letters to two companies that are publishing lecture notes from the two institutions on sites supported by advertising directed at college students...

In the absence of clear-cut legal protections for lectures, universities may be able to protect themselves by writing explicit policies that can be tested in court, says Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University. Mr. Deflem, who has written about lawsuits related to college teaching, says that universities should consider legal means to resist what he views as an invasion by on-line notes companies. He has posted a paper about the topic on line (

John R. Sandbrook, an assistant provost in U.C.L.A.'s College of Letters and Science, says the publishing of lecture notes without the permission of the professor or the university is not... a free-speech issue. "A classroom," he says, "is not a public park." (full article online).

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From The UD, Texas Tech University, November 23, 1999 .....

Professors, companies clash on noteworthy issue, by Jerrod Edwards

A battle is developing between professors and online companies offering lecture notes from accredited colleges and universities, like Texas Tech... One professor is starting a campaign to end what some consider intellectual thievery. Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, said the most serious problem with online notes is the way they affect the relationships between students and their teachers. "These companies do not solve problems - they tap into them. They take advantage of the fact that some students are lost in college," Deflem said. "Instead of going to class, learning for themselves and asking the professors questions when they are confused, students are going to the Internet for an easy way out, and that is not right."... (online copy).

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From the Oregon Daily Emerald, November 23, 1999 .....

Notetakers turn profit: Controversial websites will pay students for lecture notes and then post them on the internet for use by students willing to pay, by Ben Romano

Companies such as, and, which pay students to post lecture notes on their Web sites, "are interfering in education," said Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University...

Deflem insists that these companies are in business solely to make a profit and any interest they have in education is secondary. Every site carries a disclaimer stating that the company is not responsible for the information provided and it is not guaranteed to be accurate, he said. :I am accountable and responsible in my job," Deflem said. "The people [publishing these lecture notes] are not qualified or trained to teach. They are interfering in the relationship between professors and students."... (story online).

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From The Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 1999 .....

Lecture notes online? Businesses hook students up, by Liz Marlantes

In yet another example of the blurring line between business and education, Internet entrepreneurs are attempting to capitalize on students' sleeping in --by offering class notes on the Web... But to many professors, the act of posting lecture information on the Web constitutes an invasion of their classroom.

"They are interfering in the relationship between professors and students," says Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. He finds the sites so offensive that he has launched a Web site of his own devoted to bringing them down. Beyond the obvious concern that these sites may encourage more students to cut class, Professor Deflem objects to the "principle" behind them. "I lose control over my teaching," he explains. Since the information disseminated by the sites doesn't come directly from professors, it may end up distorting their message... As Deflem points out, "notes tend to be very personal." If you copy someone else's notes, he says, you'll probably also "have to talk about it with them."...

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From the University Daily Kansan, November 11, 1999 .....

Professors battle commercial note-takers, by Nathan Willis

In an ongoing conflict with online commercial note-taking companies, University of Kansas professors are winning a few battles —but the tide of the war may be turning against them. More companies are joining the competition to take class notes and provide them for free to students on the Internet, said Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University who is leading a national fight against online note-taking ventures.

“It began about a year ago with a few companies and a few universities,” Deflem said. “Now it´s 10 companies with universities across the nation. In that sense, it´s becoming a very extensive problem.” Despite complaints from professors and a University policy that forbids note-taking companies from entering classrooms without the instructors´ permission, note-taking companies continue to have a strong presence at the University. And many — contrary to University policy — still are not asking permission...

Deflem said the University´s policy made it easier to battle note-taking companies at Kansas than at most universities, which don´t have such policies. Still, he said, legal battles would be inevitable if the spread of online note-taking companies continued. “If you want to challenge this legally, it´s a real hassle,” he said. “But legal recourse may be the most effective strategy left.” (story online).

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From the Cavalier Daily (University of Virginia), November 2, 1999 .....

Net discourse (editorial)

Although the online notes debate has revealed one genre of problems that the Internet can pose to higher education, a University of Virginia symposium about the industry will demonstrate how constructive a technology-academia collaboration can be... Thirty-three Internet industry leaders... will discuss issues like the Internet's effects on society and cyberspace ethics and rights... All well and good, but the most exciting part of the e-summit is not that it could fatten the University's purse...

Online notes recently became an issue at Harvard, which has a longstanding ban on the sale of lecture notes. Students have violated the ban to sell notes to, risking disciplinary action that could include forced withdrawal from the university. The sale of lecture notes is not a new concept, but the Internet has given it new prominence and accessibility. The rash of Web sites devoted to notes has renewed interest in the subject. A [Purdue] University professor has even decided to launch a counteroffensive with a Web site devoted to the issue... The online notes dispute is just one of many areas in cyberspace that beg for student input... (article online).

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From the Harvard Crimson, October 28, 1999 .....

Professors Call Online Service for Class Notes Dishonest, by Graeme C.A. Wood

According to Freshman Dean Elizabeth Studley Nathans, selling notes is a serious offense and could mean disciplinary action... "Any Harvard student who is employed by or who uses the services of or any similar organization, is in violation of College rules regarding the integrity of academic work," Nathans says... Charles Berman [of] says the company warns all its note-takers that their colleges' administrations may not agree with all of Versity's activities, and that they may suffer penalties or discipline. "Specifically, we absolutely tell people that some campuses find this controversial. We do not happen to agree with the policy" of the deans at Harvard, he says.

One professor has started to fight back. [Purdue] University assistant professor of sociology Mathieu Deflem learned that Versity had his lecture notes in early September, so he immediately wrote and asked them to remove the notes from their site. "Distributing information is all good and well," Deflem says. "But this is offensive to the relationship between professors and students. Teaching is a very specific environment with very specific characteristics, and I as a teacher want to have some control over that environment. Why else would I be a teacher?"

Versity replied with an offer to collaborate on a Web site, Deflem says, but he refused. "They first barge in telling me how to do my job. Do you know what it took me to get this job? I didn't get this job because I'm a pretty boy. You expect their teachers to do their jobs, and not rely on companies run by university drop-outs." Deflem has since begun an Internet campaign against note-buying services. He maintains a Web site devoted to the issue and has been corresponding with administrators about the problem. Recently, he said, the University of California at Los Angeles has had some success in stopping Versity from buying notes... (article online at Harvard Crimson).

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From the Yale Daily News, October 28, 1999

Online note-taking sites spark legal, cyber debate, by Michael Horn

Stephen Oberhauser, a senior at UCLA, acts as the campus manager for Study 24-7. Besides posting notes for one class, he is in charge of recruiting note-takers on campus. Oberhauser received an e-mail from the assistant provost at UCLA, John Sandbrook, on Oct. 14 advising him to stop this practice because it violates school regulations, which prohibit commercial posting of notes without University approval. Oberhauser has not stopped posting notes...

"It's not an economic issue," [Sandbrook] said. "We're not being bureaucratic and not being monopolistic. We're dealing with intellectual property material and the teaching process."... "You're dealing with material that is not just being read," Sandbrook said. "You're dealing with how a professor wants it to be taught, and that core essence will be contained in the notes."... (Full story online).

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From the Kentucky Kernel, October 28, 1999

Online notes service steps up campaign despite controversy, by John Wampler

Less than a week after coming under fire from professors, advertisements for, a on-line site that provides free lecture notes, could be seen written in multi-colored chalk on numerous sidewalks across the University of Kentucky campus. Messages such as "Do you want to win a free TV/VCR? Visit," were the alluring messages that encouraged students to check out the site. "We call it kind of 'guerrilla marketing," said Janet Cardinell, director of campus relations for the company...

For those professors who do not want their notes posted, the company evaluates each situation on an individual basis, and does what they can to make the professor comfortable with having their notes on the site, Cardinell said. However, if a professor is still not happy with their material being used, the company claims it still has the ability to post their notes...

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From The Chronicle of Higher Education (online), October 6, 1999 ...

Armed With a Web Site and Links, a Professor Takes On Lecture-Notes Companies,
by Florene Olson

Mathieu Deflem is a lone professor crusading against a group of Internet companies that he condemns as intruders into the private, privileged relationship between a professor and his students. Mr. Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, has converted a portion of his academic Web site into a mini-clearinghouse of information about Internet companies with names like,, and (See a story from The Chronicle, October 1.)...

[Deflem] wants to raise awareness among colleagues and students. His Web site -- dressed up with slogans like "Go to class and enjoy the company of real living people!" and "Down with the Anti-Education Companies!" -- lists 10 companies that he has been able to identify so far. "I'm sure that a more-organized response is needed, but the site is a first step..." (online article at the Chronicle).

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From the Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1, 1999

Putting Class Notes on the Web: Are Companies Stealing Lectures?,
by Goldie Blumenstyck

Much to the distress of some professors and their employers, operators of at least three commercial World-Wide Web sites have begun to feature notes taken in classes on dozens of campuses. ...many university leaders and professors say this latest permutation is particularly annoying -and unnerving.

"For people to come along who do not ask for permission, who do not pay for permission, and then make a profit off what is the product of another person's mind is outrageous morally and infringement legally," says Robert A. Gorman, a professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania... "There's nothing much more personal than than your lecture material," says Richard J. Lutz, senior associate dean at the University of Florida graduate school... "It's like putting a camera in every classroom," says Christine Helwick, general counsel for the California State University system... While the law is hardly clear-cut, some colleges and organizations contend that taking notes from a class lecture and putting them on line on a commercial Web site violates professors' copyright.

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From the Michigan Daily, November 23, 1999

University of Michigan faculty to examine course notes on the Web,
by Jeremy W. Peters

In an address to the Senate Assembly meeting yesterday, General Counsel Marvin Krislov cautioned that an official University position would have to be carefully worded in order to avoid any possible infringements upon First Amendment rights. He cited the policy enforced at Michigan State University as an example of a school that employs a restrictive policy concerning commercialized notetaking. "Michigan State does have a policy preventing students from unauthorized notetaking for commercial purposes..." recently sent letters to about 100 members of the faculty encouraging them to partake in a pilot project the company is launching. In exchange, the faculty members would receive copyrights on the notes, the right to review the notes before publication and the payment of royalties through stock options...

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From The Harvard Crimson, November 01, 1999

Intellectual Property? (editorial)

Selling lecture notes to outside firms is an unethical violation:
The selective nature of Harvard academics has been called into question by the double-edged sword of the World Wide Web, the great democratizer of information and violator of copyrights... [P]rofessors nationwide who find their lectures summarized online say that the service not only provides inaccurate information but represents a copyright infringement on their intellectual property... The University is right to stress the intellectual property rights of its professors and protect our academic community by prohibiting the sale of academic information to Web sites like When properly understood, these restrictions will help strengthen the bonds between students and professors and among fellow students. They will foster more cooperation and therefore more education within the Harvard academic community. These privileges, after all, are what we are paying to receive.

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From the New York Times on the Web, October 22, 1999

Universities Warn Sites Posting Class Notes, by Carl S. Kaplan

... In the last two weeks at least two universities have sent warning letters to representatives of the online companies, claiming that note-takers are violating campus policy and infringing upon the intellectual property rights of the faculty. Looming behind the dispute is a puzzling legal question: Is the commercial distribution of a student's class notes a violation of the professor's copyright? The online note-taking entrepreneurs and their lawyers insist their business is lawful, but some other experts in intellectual property are not so sure...

UCLA's Sandbrook denied in an interview that his warning letter was prompted by any desire to protect the business of the authorized student note-taking service. "The issue is faculty control over what goes on in the classroom," he said... The University of California at Berkeley also has a specific campus policy against the unauthorized commercial distribution of class notes. It sent letters to the online companies in the past two weeks.

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From The California Aggie, October 21, 1999

Web lecture notes raise quality and ownership concerns at UC-Davis,
by Catlin Driscoll and Mike McDaniel (The California Aggie, at UC-Davis)

Lecture notes published over the World Wide Web without the consent of professors have become an increasing concern for University of California-Davis officials... According to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Carolyn Wall,... "For students, I think the greatest risk comes in not knowing the qualifications of the note-taker nor the quality of the notes."...

This concern raises the legal issue of intellectual property - who really owns the notes? Currently UCD is only in the preliminary stages of discussing web lecture notes... Web lecture notes became a concern at both UC Berkeley and UCLA before reaching UCD. Both universities have already been in contact with online companies stating their concerns...

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From the Stanford Review, October 1999 .....

The Educational Costs of Free Online Lecture Notes (opinion), by Mathieu Deflem

... I believe there are at least two serious educational concerns involved with these companies. First, these companies interfere with the autonomy and dignity we enjoy in our student-teacher relationships and intrude upon our rights and responsibilities in learning and teaching. Second, online notes companies lack the accountability and standards of qualification that apply to teachers in colleges and universities... (see longer version).

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From the The Chronicle, October 20, 1999 ...

Online course notes draw fire: Academics across the nation challenge the sites’
legality and ethics, by Jaime Levy (The Chronicle, at Duke University)

..."My job as professor is to take a very large area of knowledge, distill the best out of it and put it into an interpretative framework...," said Professor of Sociology Linda George, who said she has contacted a University lawyer about a potential suit against, the company posting notes from her Sociology 106 course...

Mathieu Deflem, an [assistant] professor of sociology at Purdue University, said he was only interested in the legal arguments as a way to preserve the ethics of education. About a week after first reading about these companies in The New York Times, Deflem set up a web site devoted to presenting educational arguments against the companies.

"Legal protections are only important to the extent that they protect certain values we have as educators...," Deflem said. "These companies don't just hurt me, they hurt me and my students alike. I'm not just defending the right of professors, I'm defending the dignity of the relationship between an instructor and students."

Deflem pointed out that these sites are most destructive to the students who would be best served by attending class. "These companies do not solve problems, they tap into them. They take advantage of the fact that some students are lost in college...," he said. (story online).

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From The Stanford Daily, Monday, October 18, 1999 ...

Online lecture notes harm student-teacher relationships (letter to the editor)

In response to the article and editorial you recently published about online lecture notes companies, I have a few comments. Online lecture notes provided by private companies intrude in the relationships between students and their teachers. Violations of copyrights are not an argument here... Your editorial stated that copyrighting of lectures would be misguided because scientific nature is not meant to be kept secret. True enough, but copyrighting does not pertain to the substance but only the form in which knowledge is transmitted...

The most serious problem with online notes is not copyright infringement, but the loss of the autonomy and dignity that marks student-teacher relationship. Copyrighting lectures is never an argument, but it can be an instrument to safeguard these rights, as could other constitutional ways... (signed) Mathieu Deflem, Asst. Prof. of Sociology, Purdue

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From the Purdue Exponent, October 15, 1999 ...

Teacher Fights Internet Note Piracy, by Vanessa Renderman

When professors walk into a classroom to teach, they expect their students to pay attention and take notes, but teachers might not expect students to post those notes on the Internet. One professor has started a campaign to put an end to what some people consider intellectual thievery. "The basic problem with online lecture notes provided by private companies is that it intrudes in the relationships between students and their teachers," said Mathieu Deflem, an assistant professor of sociology... "Most importantly, I feel students are negatively affected by this phenomenon because online lecture notes companies lack any kind of accountability in providing educational materials with any guarantees of quality," he said... Deflem feels the legality of the matter is not as damaging as the effect the notes have on the instructors and students. "The most serious problem with online notes companies is, first, the loss of autonomy and dignity that it involves in student-teacher relationships," he said... (see article online).

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From the Purdue Exponent, October 5, 1999

Faculty member questions online notes (letter to the editor)

An online company posting course notes has been campaigning rather aggressively on our campus these past few weeks. Although legally the situation is unclear, there are legal precedents that have awarded copyrights to lectures and that have prohibited the sale of student notes... However, irrespective of legality, I believe there are very serious educational issues involved with these companies, especially inasmuch as they invade in the autonomy we enjoy in our student-teacher relationships as well as our rights and responsibilities in learning and teaching. Online notes companies, furthermore, lack the accountability and standards of qualification of college teachers so that students may receive an education of high quality.
I encourage students and teachers to join in on the debate surrounding the many issues involved in this matter... (signed) Mathieu Deflem, Purdue faculty (see Purdue Exponent).

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From The Cavalier Daily, October 4, 1999 ...

Academics condemn web sites selling classroom notes,
by Adam Justice (Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia)

Following the recent posting of college class notes on commercial Web sites, some faculty members throughout the country are expressing concerns about the practice.

Mathieu Deflem, assistant professor of sociology at Purdue University, has launched a Website of his own in order to discourage online notes. Deflem said he hopes the site will prevent the beginning of a trend that "is going to hurt [students] severely in the long run." Online note-selling agencies, such as and, have received over $11 million in corporate financing within the past year, he said. The financing is largely because "they're bringing business into education - where it doesn't belong," he added. "They pretend to have a market and that's how they get their investors." Deflem said he feels the commercialization of classes is disturbing. "I don't advertise my class like a Coca-Cola..." Deflem said...

Deflem noted on his Website that corporations do not check the accuracy of the notes published online, and many corporations leave disclaimers about the notes online. Professors do not put disclaimers on the material they teach, and only through their classes can students obtain accurate course information, he said. Boston University Assoc. Provost Peter Wood said notes "spread inaccuracy and incompleteness because they are uncontrolled versions of what the teacher has said."... Given that online course notes are "a recent phenomenon," their impact on academics cannot easily be assessed, Deflem said (online story at Cavalier Daily; Editorial Cartoon [Cavalier Daily])

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From the San Francisco Chronicle, October 2, 1999

UC Tries to Halt Online Class Notes - Internet firms post lectures on Web,
by Tanya Schevitz

University of California officials are warning Internet companies that posting course lecture notes online is illegal and are demanding that they pull them off their Web sites. Administrators at UC Berkeley said yesterday they plan to send cease-and-desist letters soon to any company posting notes from its course lectures. They charge the practice violates copyright laws and campus rules requiring approval for commercial activities. Officials at UCLA sent such a letter this week to the Michigan-based Internet site, and they say they are watching for violations by other companies. Both campuses are threatening disciplinary action against students employed by the companies.

...Both UC Berkeley and UCLA have policies prohibiting the distribution of lecture notes without a professor's permission and banning unauthorized companies from profiting from lecture notes. They also have student conduct codes prohibiting students from selling lecture notes. In addition, professors say they worry that students will rely on the notes instead of attending class and will be less engaged if they are not taking notes, even if they do attend...

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From the Iowa State Daily, December 6, 1999

Copyright questions plague Iowa State U. instructors, by Kate Kompas

With increasing technology enabling students to get class notes off the World Wide Web and note-taking services available, Iowa State University faculty have mixed opinions on whether the notes help students understand material or deter them from coming to class...

...Dorothy Schweider, university professor of history, said she's vehemently against the selling of notes, whether from an online service or from a note-taking service, because she believes it discourages students from coming to class. "I feel it's very unfair that any person can send someone, or I guess it's hiring a student who's already in the class, to take notes in the class. ...I think this is wrong, and the teachers have no choice in the matter. Someone who, from my point of view, is doing no work whatsoever or contributing to the quality of the class, that that person can make a profit off of the labor of someone else, I think that's wrong," she said...

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From the Michigan Daily, December 2, 1999

Internet course notes spark debate at University of Michigan,
by Jeremy W. Peters

...Provost Nancy Cantor's announcement last month that she will form a group to study commercial notetaking services... Although offers notes for 34 different University classes, not all professors are in favor of allowing the publication of their class materials. "I am opposed to it very much," said history Prof. Sidney Fine, adding that he feels he owns the rights to the content of his lectures.

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From the San Jose Mercury News, November 28, 1999

Internet challenges educational integrity, by Lawrence M. Hinman

The larger threat to academic integrity, however, lies below the surface. The Internet is transforming how we teach. This is most evident in distance education, where teacher-student interaction is supplanted by computer-based instruction... The Internet can be used to free classroom time for more effective interaction among professor, students and the ideas being considered in the course --an interaction that cannot happen on the Web. The momentum of the technology, the apparent economic benefits won by cost-conscious administrators and the lack of appreciation for the central formative process of liberal education all conspire to push us toward the first path. To follow this path to its inevitable destination would be the ultimate violation of academic integrity.
Lawrence M, Hinman, Values Institute at the University of San Diego.

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From the Daily Illini, November 18, 1999

University of Illinois Profs Protest Notes for Sale, Consider Lawsuit, by Nicole Wagner

University Associate Professor Mark Leff said he and other professors from the history department are going to be discussing legal action with administrators because notes from their lectures are being sold. Professor Craig Koslofsky's History 111 notes are available to his 700 students through and I-Notes, and he is considering legal action against the companies. He has applied for a government copyright of his lectures by providing tape recordings and notes from the course. He said he also asked I-Notes to stop publishing notes from his class, but there has been no resolution. "They are stealing my intellectual property," he said. "Those are bootleg notes."...

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From The Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 14, 1999

Pulling an all-nighter? Web sites offer study help around-the-clock, by Angela Shah

Whatever their strategies, targeting students online is smart. Almost 50 percent of 16- to 22-year-olds or 12.4 million spend-happy consumers in the United States alone are active Web users, said Ekaterina Walsh, an analyst with Forrester Group in Cambridge, Mass... But Elizabeth Hedrick, a UT English professor, said she doesn't approve of note-taking services. "You can't be sure of the accuracy," she said. "And my notes are my writings. It's the idea of intellectual property."...

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From The Dallas Morning News, November 11, 199

Web is changing the ethics of education. After all, why attend class when
you can buy posted notes, by Doug Bedell

The Information Age may be dawning, but its intrusion into some corners of academia is being greeted with suspicion... Private services have been offering sales of college lecture notes on some campuses since the 1960s. But three upstart Web sites promoting the same service for free have drawn fire on several campuses since opening for business in the last year. In October, an attorney for the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles said he was asking the services, and to stop paying students for their online notes. "When a student or nonstudent copies faculty lectures for the purpose of selling them, that's a commercial use and that's a violation of our rules," [said] Mike Smith, attorney for the California universities...

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From Cox News Service , November 9, 1999

Students, up late studying? Help available on the Web, by Angela Shah

...Note-taking services, which employ students or others to attend college classes and then sell the notes as study aids, are not new. In a pre-dot-com world, students might have purchased commercially produced book summaries. The online newcomers, whose founders say get their revenues from ads, do not charge a fee... Whatever their strategies, targeting students online is smart. Almost 50 percent of 16- to 22-year-olds _ or 12.4 million spend-happy consumers _ in the United States alone are active Web users, said Ekaterina Walsh, an analyst with Forrester Group in Cambridge, Mass...

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From Saturday Morning (CBS Television), November 6, 1999

Oran Wolf, Founder Studentu.Com, and Peter Wood, Boston University Professor, Discuss the Use of Class Notes on the Internet, hosted by Dawn Stensland

(Wood): Well, I think it's drawing in the students who most need to be in class. The students who aren't really very good or not really very motivated and it lures them out of class into an easy way of getting through what they think is a college education without really getting educated... It's like the term papers sold over the Internet. It's a business that's been around for a long time; nibbling at the edges of higher education, doing minor destruction. But the Internet magnifies things and this is just going to appeal to lots more students who are going to be tempted to go down this road of not taking their education quite as seriously as they should... [But] colleges and universities are doing what they can to try to curtail the practice...

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From The Lariat, November 5, 1999

Online class notes stir debate nationwide, by Christie Smith

Controversy from professors around the country is heating up as students are embracing the concept of, an online "knowledge center" that collects lecture notes from colleges across the U.S. and publishes them on the World Wide Web... Even though universities such as Harvard have banned the sale of lecture notes, students continue to sell their material for approximately $ 8 per lecture...

Dr. Helen Ligon, emeritus professor of Information Systems,... does not agree with the concept of "I don't think it is right for students to sell the notes on the Web," Ligon said... According to the Harvard Crimson, although the lecture notes on the Web site are free, professors from around the country are warning students that the notes may not prove helpful or even accurate. Many say students who go to every class and take their own notes will be more involved in their courses and are more likely to do better.

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From the PR Newswire, November 4, 1999

College Students Learn How to Turn Their Valuable Class Notes Into Cash

" provides college students a 'person-to-person' forum to buy and sell lecture notes," says George Puccio, co-founder with Steve Montano of the new online service, The purchase price is set by the student note-takers, not by By setting their own prices, Puccio says, note-takers will strive to post useful notes to encourage repeat business. The note-takers receive 60 percent of the fees paid by other students; gets the rest...

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From The Cincinnati Post, November 4, 1999

Class Notes on 'Net, by Andrew Conte

...But while students flock to the Internet for class notes, the practice has ignited a fierce debate among legal experts. Academics are arguing that notes taken during a course discussion should be the intellectual property of the lecturer and not for resale. "It seems to me a professor's lecture is proprietary information, and I think that you're taking intellectual property and distributing it for free," said James Garland, Miami University president. "I think it's a terrible idea."... Miami University also plans to explore legal means for keeping notes off-line, Garland said... The professors' union - the American Association of University Professors - has started speaking out against the practice on its own... The American Council on Education, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit representing colleges and universities, agrees that the legal issues are, at best, murky. Besides the copyright claims, the group argues the practice of posting class notes undermines the education process. "Surely one gets a lot more out of being at the lecture," said Sheldon Steinbach, legal counsel for the nonprofit. "Kids are engaging in educational self-deception."... (story online).

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From All Things Considered, NPR, November 3, 1999

Class Notes on the Internet, reported by Tom Scheck with Noah Adams.

(Scheck): Dan Reagan is a political scientist professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He says what's perhaps most disturbing is that each professor teaches students differently, and he claims that disparity is a professor's intellectual property...
(Reagan): I think professors have a claim to intellectual property rights in their lectures, because what we're doing there is we're picking and choosing facts that could be arranged in a whole number of ways. And we're, in fact, arranging them in one way and then we tie them together with a narrative that we've put together...
(Scheck): It's unclear how long students will be able to access these Web sites. Some schools are urging faculty to prevent students from selling their notes by copyrighting their courses at the beginning of the semester...

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From the Daily Bruin, November 2, 1999

University violates rights of lecture note companies (letter to the editor)

I am the UCLA manager of Study, which is a company that posts class notes on the Web... Last week, I received a letter from an administrator in the College of Letters and Science, which threatened both my company and me with legal action for providing a notetaking service... Many professors seem to have short memories. Not so long ago, they were students and the knowledge they now possess was imparted to them from others. That is the nature of teaching, and to suppose that what they have to say is so secretive and special that it must be protected from notetaking interpretations is downright ludicrous... I propose that the real issue for the professors and the university is that they are experiencing some competition for the almighty dollar...
Stephen C. Oberhauser, On-Campus Manager Study

Full letter online. [Note by Mathieu Deflem: This letter responds to actions taken by John Sandbrook, Assistant Provost at UCLA (see related story). It is rather typical of the misconceptions involved and the complete inability on the part of the lecture notes companies and their representatives to move beyond a profit-oriented framework and independently consider the educational isues involved].

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From the Daily Collegian, October 21, 1999

Penn State U. professors wary of online notes,
by Sarah Cassi (Daily Collegian at Penn State)

..."I think it is extremely dangerous for students to rely on note providers," said Paul Howell, professor of metals science. "Students are in danger of doing extremely poorly in class because students aren't going to make up the lecture experience with notes off of the Web."

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From The Chronicle (Duke), October 20, 1999

Students, faculty react to Duke presence of, by Vikas Singhal

Since its Duke debut in September, has sparked a mini-controversy with its online lecture notes, creating divides within the student body and the faculty... "I honestly don't think it is right," said Lee Ann Houchin, a Pratt sophomore. "If you don't go to class, then that is your prerogative. I don't know much about the site, but I wouldn't use it."... "My opinion is that they don't give a damn about what is on that web site," said one professor, whose course is listed on the site and spoke anonymously. "I went online and looked at some of the notes, and more than 40 percent of what was on there was wrong.... They aren't an educational service by any means." The professor also added that because Duke students pay to attend lectures, they should be upset that lecture notes are available on the Internet...
(See full story at The Chronicle).

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From the Chicago Sun-Times , October 19, 1999

Students take note of study aids. Lecture notes proliferate - Profs object,
by Alan Scher Zagier

...The outcome from this inevitable marriage of higher education and Web entrepreneurs? Free class notes culled from the mega-lecture-hall courses at your local Big State U... "I find it absolutely appalling," said Pamela Conover, a University of North Carolina political science professor whose American politics course is featured at "Part of the value is that you're in the class and hear what the teacher has to say, what others have to say, maybe even raise your hand to participate... Rye Barcott, a University of North Carolina junior who is Engelhard's campus representative, offered a blunt assessment of his employer's probable clients. "I think is catering directly to the students who skip classes," he said. Barcott resolved his own ethical doubts by seeking permission from professors before posting notes from their lectures on the Web...

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From The Boston Herald, October 19, 1999

Students take note of these 2 sites, by Stephanie Schorow

...Peter Wood, associate provost of Boston University, says on-line notes don't benefit students. Education is not a commodity; even the most accurate notes do not substitute for class discussions and interaction. Even the act of note-taking is an educational exercise. "Tolerating such things is allowing higher education to deteriorate," he said... [M]oney trumps ethics. In September, Versity got $ 11.2 million in venture capital, including money from Kevin O'Connor of DoubleClick, an on-line advertising group. Lawson said the site will be profitable one day through advertising and partnerships... UCLA is not impressed: John Sandbrook, an assistant provost, has sent Versity a cease-and-desist order. Other universities are scrambling to establish policies on this new technology. Harvard is already clear: "Students who sell lecture or reading notes" will be liable to disciplinary action. Post and perish...

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From The Dallas Morning News, October 19, 1999

Posted Notes: The Web is changing the ethics of education, by Doug Bedell

Three new enterprises posting college class notes to the World Wide Web have drawn fire from professors who fear they promote class-skipping and other evils... "It sounds great in practice. But in reality, they either already exist in the form of e-mail lists, or they form around a body of more static content," Mr. Rosenfeld warns. (Full story online).

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From the San Francisco Chronicle, October 18, 1999

Web Snares Lazy Students: Collegians who rely on Internet class notes getting shortchanged, by Tanya Schevitz

...[A] Chronicle reporter recently attended and took notes at seven classes: three at San Francisco State and four at the University of California at Berkeley. Later, she compared what appeared on the Web sites with what the professors had actually said. The first problem was that some of the Web sites never delivered the lecture notes they promised... Oran Wolf, president of StudyFree, which posts lecture notes on, said the companies had been warned by UC Berkeley officials to stop posting notes... But the most common problem was that the notes were incomplete -- often appallingly so...
(Full story at the San Francisco Chronicle).

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From The Daily, October 12, 1999

Online study sites taking heat for taking notes, by Brook Adam
(The Daily, at University of Washington)

The University of Washington and colleges across the nation are struggling to respond to a new presence in the classroom: Paid student note-takers who sell their notes to companies like, often without the permission of the instructor. Teachers aren't happy. "The fact that somebody is publishing notes [from] my class without telling me disturbs me...I think courtesy would say you talk to the professor," said Senior Lecturer Paul Heynes... Professor Christine Di Stefano...said she was angered that an outside group was trying to profit from her work. "When I put a course together a lot of work goes into it, a lot of time. It has a professor's personal stamp," she said. (The Daily).

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From the Daily Bruin, October 8, 1999

UCLA administrators want to take Web site note service offline,
by Julie Bernstein (Daily Bruin, at UCLA)

...This week officials at UCLA sent a cease-and-desist letter to, a company planning to offer free online notes for UCLA classes, requesting that the company delete all UCLA courses from their Web site for which they are offering to hire students as notetakers. Competitor, a Houston-based company that employs about 1,200 college students and similarly targets the nation's biggest universities, is also in question...

Campus officials charge the practice violates copyright laws and university rules requiring approval for commercial activities. UCLA has policies prohibiting the distribution of lecture notes without a professor's permission and banning unauthorized companies from profiting from lecture notes... Both UC Berkeley and UCLA are threatening disciplinary action against students employed by the companies, citing student conduct codes prohibiting students from selling lecture notes. University discipline would be applied at the discretion of the dean of students and could include suspension from the university...

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From the Indiana Daily Student, October 8, 1999

New Web site posts Indiana U. class notes,
by Julia Baugher (Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University Bloomington)

The use of secondary sources of academic support, such as the recently closed Note Network and the newly formed Web site, has created controversy among both students and professors... Political science professor Christine Barbour said posted notes reinforce, even subtly, the message that students can get away with not going to class... "I think that note taking is an incredibly important skill ? a skill students will need to know someday," she said. "I don't even think ( should be a supplement ? you should really get to the point where your notes are good enough to learn from by themselves. You shouldn't need someone else's notes." "There is simply no substitute for what happens in the classroom," Barbour concluded. "If a couple of pieces of paper could substitute for a professor, then we should all be fired."

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From the Associated Press, October 7

Lecture notes can now be found online

...By logging onto Web sites with names such as, and, students can purchase class notes taken by fellow classmates for a fee... Pamela Conover, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill whose American politics course is featured at, calls the service "absolutely appalling." "Part of the value is that you're in the class and hear what the teacher has to say, what others have to say, maybe even raise your hand to participate," Conover said. "It's an abuse of the educational process when you remove interaction with your fellow students."

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From The Lariat, October 7, 1999

Cutting class (Staff editorial,The Lariat, Baylor University)
Lecture notes published on Web a threat to academia

In just another example of the World Wide Web's ever-increasing hand in education, several Web sites now pay students to submit class notes for Internet publication... Generally, class lectures are filled with facts or ideas having no ownership, but when personal anecdotes or other interesting stories are intermingled in the lectures, professors should have to give permission before publication on a commercial site on the Web. In effect, a student submitting notes for payment is making financial gain directly off the backs of his or her professors. In an area of society most known for protecting intellectual property, unauthorized note publication deals a harsh blow to academia...

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From The Diamondback, October 7, 1999

Internet ethics 101 (Staff editorial, The Diamondback, University of Maryland)

Sleep in late, miss class and later get the notes for free off the Internet: It may sound like a students' dream, but it's a nightmare for those whose intellectual property rights are in danger... Although some students come to this campus for intellectual stimulation, many do not. This practice of posting notes on the Web allows students the opportunity to skip class and ostensibly still get an A in the class. Some professors are irked for another reason: The distribution of their ideas -- without their express consent -- provides any Web surfer with access. One teaching assistant said he felt exploited...

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From The Diamondback, October 6, 1999

Online lecture notes spark controversy at University of Maryland,
by Joel Furfari (The Diamondback, University of Maryland)

The proliferation of online lecture notes, including those from the University of Maryland, has recently ignited controversy between website operators and college instructors... Administrators and instructors, in particular, said issues of copyright infringement need to be settled in court... Gregory Geoffroy, campus's senior vice president of academic affairs and provost, said he felt some students may use this service to justify skipping class. "If I was still teaching as a professor, anything that would enable the students to learn better would be valuable. The question is if the notes are helping students learn or hindering students," said Geoffroy, the former chemistry professor...

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From Wired News, October 6, 1999

Colleges Hitting Low Notes by Katie Dean

... Spurred by angry professors, some University of California schools have threatened legal action against companies that hire note-taking students. And at least one company, which does not even post any UC class notes but which has a vested interest in luring students to its notes-filled site, has pledged to fight the universities... Sites like, and pay student note-takers to post notes from university courses on the Web. Any student can access the notes for free;, for one, makes its money through ad revenue... But it's not just the legal aspect that bothers some professors. "It's clearly unethical and I think it borders on academic dishonesty," said Andrew Bergnstein, a marketing instructor at Penn State University whose lecture notes are posted on the Web at "If you're willing to be paid to take notes and turn those notes over to a company that's going to make a profit, it starts to raise in my mind the ethics of the gatherers and of the people who go to these sites," Bergnstein said...

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From the Detroit News, October 5, 1999

Students who skip get help online: Note service is free - Professors warn the information may be inaccurate, by Jodi S. Cohen

...Cutting class is easier than ever in Michigan and throughout the country as two Internet companies -- one based in Ypsilanti -- pay students to summarize lectures on the Internet. But while the young firms say the free notes are designed to supplement students' own jottings, many professors worry that the convenience will create more empty seats. Many also argue that distributing a professor's work without permission raises legal and ethical questions. "Students will be shortchanging themselves. They will think that the notes can be a substitute for going to class," said Stephen Darwall, a University of Michigan professor who teaches a philosophy class on ethics...

"There's no doubt that students print out the notes so they can sleep in class or just not go," said U-M freshman Bill Myers before attending a 10 a.m. philosophy class. He hasn't used either service. "I have to pay for school," he explained, "so I might as well get the most out of it."... "I totally don't approve of it, said Jan Gerson, a U-M economist who noted that the overhead-projection graphs displayed in her lectures can't be replicated by skimming another student's notes. "There is no quality control and there is the potential for spreading inaccurate information."... Online copy at the Detroit News. Check out the comments!

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From the Daily Evergreen, September 30, 1999

On-line note services concern Washington State University,
by Alison Stouffer (Daily Evergreen, Washington State University), a Michigan-based Internet company, offers lecture notes free to students who register with their Web site. Students are paid to take notes in class and post them on the Internet at the site... Cindy Empey, assistant dean of students, said she does not know of any standards in the WSU student conduct code regarding the use of on-line materials or the posting of material that could prohibit the students hired from making lecture notes available on Kansas State University Provost James R. Coffman said if class notes are published by someone other than the professor, it infringes upon the copyright the professor has over the material... Empey said her biggest concern is not attendance, but the use of the materials found on by students. She said students need to make sure to properly cite the information used for assignments.

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From The Daily Universe, September 29, 1999

Class notes from Web sites could help --or hurt
(Staff Editorial, The Daily Universe, Brigham Young University)

Technology may make teachers obsolete... If students don't care enough to show up to class, do they deserve a way to access the material and pass the class? Notes are a product of the hard work of the student listening to the professor... Regardless of what the site says about its notes, they cannot be used as an outright substitute for going to class. Only by attending class can students be absolutely sure that the information they are getting is reliable. Attending class also gives students the opportunity to ask questions and to clear up misunderstandings of the material.

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From the Colorado Daily, September 28, 1999

Profs question benefits of using course cyber-notes at U. Illinois,
by Amanda Hill (Colorado Daily, University of Colorado at Boulder)

..."Often times, the notes are less helpful than not having the notes at all," said University of Colorado fine arts professor Barbara Coleman. "...What does bother me is that the notes give students a false sense of security, that getting the notes is all they need to do."... Another CU professor who has had his lecture notes commercially published on-line without prior knowledge is biology professor Randolf Didomenico... "I change my notes every year," said Didomenico. "I change my notes all the time. Most of the people who rely on the notes don't do well in my class." "For people to come along who do not ask for permission, who do not pay for permission, and then make a profit off what is the product of another person's mind is outrageous morally and infringement legally," said University of Pennsylvania professor Robert Gorman to the Chronicle of Higher Education... Professors who oppose the sale of their lecture notes are concerned about what qualifies as intellectual property.

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From The Post, September 28, 1999

Ohio U. professors react to Web lecture notes, by Lacy Papai
(The Post, Ohio University)

...Other professors, however, question the validity of such a service. "I think that there are some copyright problems with posting records of professors' lecture notes online," said Jared Butcher, Jr., associate professor of chemistry. "Beyond that, I don't think lecture notes are useful without the lecture."

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From The Daily Cardinal, September 28, 1999

E-commerce ventures go after student market, by Anna Jackson
(The Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin)

Walk into any classroom on campus, and you're sure to find an advertisement for a Web site, especially for college students... The abundance of Web-related advertisements targeted at young adults is not surprising to assistant journalism professor Dhavan Shah... Shah said college students may not have financial resources now, but soon will, prompting advertisers to "create a loyal base of consumers who will keep purchasing in the future."

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From Arizona Daily Wildcat, September 27, 1999

U. Arizona faculty, lawyer question legality of online note services,
by Stephanie Corns (Arizona Daily Wildcat)

..."It is a copyright infringement," said University of Arizona attorney Mike Proctor. "Clearly a professor has a copyright on their class materials...and the notes could be considered a derivative of the class material." Several other professors agreed that the companies' actions are illegal. "It's taking my mental knowledge and giving it out without compensating me" said Richard Metcalf, an accounting lecturer whose class notes used to be on "It's like taking something you've written and saying it's mine. It's unauthorized and unacceptable." Another professor threatened legal action if lecture notes from her Accounting 200 class were not taken off the Web site. "I wrote them an e-mail and asked them not to put my lecture notes on their Web site," said Leslie Cohen, an accounting lecturer... "It is their (students) loss if they use it (a Web site) as a substitute for going to class," said Phil Fenberg, a biology junior. "You can't get everything off a computer. You get a lot more if you go to class."

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From the Centre Daily Times, Sunday, September 26, 1999... ...

Missed class notes just a click away for students, by Angela Pomponio

...The proliferation of online notes has spawned a national debate among educators, some of whom fear students may shrug off class knowing they can fall back on online notes. Still, others worry about potential copyright infringements.

... Purdue University assistant professor Mathieu Deflem said it may be too soon to tell what impact the notes may have on teaching. But he doesn't want to wait and see either. Instead, he has launched his own Web site urging students to resist the temptation of online notes with quips like "The notes you take are really free!" and "Have fun with the miracles of meeting other students." For other concerned professors, he tells them to contact the Web sites and request that their classes be removed. "Someone is intruding on my class. I never asked to be on their sites and they have never asked me," he said in a telephone interview. "The fact of the matter is, I lose autonomy and responsibility for my students. I have accountability to my students. That's what these companies don't have."...

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From the Detroit Free Press, September 25, 1999

Former University of Michigan Students Create Web-Based Notes Service,
by Mike Brennan

Following the lead of Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard to found Microsoft Corp., four 22-year-old University of Michigan dropouts landed $ 11.2 million in financing this week to sell college class notes on-line. Jeff Lawson, Michael Krasman, Brian Levine and Jeremy Lappin delayed their U-M studies two years ago to build Inc... Venture capitalists were so impressed with the business model they gave $ 11.2 million to fund their ambitious expansion plans. Lead investors are Venrock Associates, Sigma Partners, Global Retail Partners and Kevin O'Connor, cofounder of DoubleClick Inc., an Internet advertising broker... "And young guys like this with a great idea will make a lot of money on the Web," [O'Connor said]... hopes someday to make a lot of money selling advertising to people who want to reach college students. But for now, it's posting big losses, although no one will say exactly how big, as it pumps money into hiring staff, building its computer network and launching a marketing and sales plan... All four started their studies in 1995, but dropped out during their senior years to concentrate on

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From the PR Newswire, September 23

... expands to more than 1,500 campuses nationwide

StudyFree... today announced the expansion of, from 62 campuses to more than 1,500 universities and colleges nationwide... Class lecture notes for additional campuses will be added as quickly as note takers apply and are accepted through, StudyFree's Web site dedicated to note takers. StudyFree expects to have courses covered at more than 1500 campuses by January of 2000.

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From the, September 22, 1999

Take note —not all professors welcome commercial ventures, by Nathan Willis

“I don´t want note takers in my class,” [Professor Dennis] Dailey said. “If I thought that all my class was about was the notes, I´d just mail my class to the students.”... Provost David Shulenburger said determining whether to let commercial note takers into the classroom was up to the professor. But if companies don´t leave when a professor tells them to, they are violating University policy and copyright law, he said...

Tim Shaftel, professor of accounting and information systems, is an example. He has never let commercial note takers into his Financial Accounting I lecture, but´s Web site lists his class as one it is planning to attend and take notes... “We´re aware that there´s concern by professors,” said Jeff Lawson, president of the Michigan-based However, he said that rather than remove a course from the site, preferred to communicate with professors and try to work out problems the professor had with the company.... (Full article online).

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From the, September 22, 1999

New Web site for notes offers help for sick, lazy (column), by Elizabth Peacock

Thank you, Oran Wolf, student from the University of Texas at Austin, for creating so that slackers everywhere can skip lectures and still get the valuable notes they need... now we may not only find notes for our particular class and professor, but we also can have yesterday´s notes in hand in a matter of minutes —from the convenience of our bedroom (or bed, if you have a laptop). Now you can go to a lecture without even leaving your horizontal position. Isn´t life grand?... On the other hand, you could always just get off your butt and go to class. (Full article online).

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From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 22, 1999 (editorial)

... The brainchild of 27-year-old Oran Wolf, is the stuff of slacker dreams. The Web site posts lecture notes from college courses across the nation, indexed by professor and penned by students who actually attend class... The notes give legitimate no-shows a chance to skim another student's interpretation of lectures they missed. They also give loafers a false sense of confidence... Learning, the true mastery of subject matter, requires active engagement -- struggle even -- with the material. From such intelle ctual friction comes light (now and then). The Internet only offers students information, not an education... But slackers should not fool themselves into thinking that technology can replace good old-fashioned hard work. Tech-savvy students who doubt that truism should click over to the study skills page of the site and peruse these tips: Don't procrastinate. Never cram. Attend all lectures.

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From The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 20, 1999

Mizzou Students can get Free Online Lecture Notes..., by Susan C. Thomson

...College lecture notes have come to the Internet, free for the clicking... Studentu is not all right with Mizzou history professor Robert Collins. When he heard notes from his 300-student "Twentieth Century America" course had shown up on the site, he was "madder than hell." "It's sort of antithetical to the implicit contract that we strike with our students that we're in this together," he said. "This is not a correspondence course." It troubles him that anyone would publish notes from his class without his permission, and the possibility of "being vetted by a C student" and "misrepresented to the world" distresses him...

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From the University Wire, September 22, 1999

A new way to take notes raises questions at Oklahoma State U., by DeAnna Browne (Daily O'Collegian)

A Web site that gives away class notes might be ripping off professors' intellectual property, an Oklahoma State University official says. Students who are taking their notes and posting them on the Web may be held responsible for the accuracy of the notes, said Guven Yalcintas, director for Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at OSU... [I]t may be stealing from professors, said Rebekah Herrick, associate professor of political science at OSU. Someone in her Introduction to Government class is posting the lecture notes on "I wonder if there are intellectual property theft issues here. The notes are presented as mine," she said.

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From the University Wire, September 22, 1999

Hope notes (editorial, Daily O'Collegian, Oklahoma State University)

Note taking is a chore. But if you want to survive a class, you'd better go and take them... Students looking for a quick way out are forgetting the point of college -- learning. Notes are fine for tests, but real learning begins when students and professors interact... You can't skip class and expect on-line notes to save you. The real world isn't full of such opportunities. Get out of bed and get to class.

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From the Associated Press, September 21, 1999

College students can find class notes online

Some college administrators and professors say new Web sites that offer free notes summarizing class lectures raise ethical and legal questions. "I think it flies in the face of academic integrity and honesty," said University of Utah vice president of student affairs Barbara Snyder. "The intent of a college education is to learn to do the work yourself." Three Web sites -, and - have been running ads in some of Utah's college newspapers looking for students to take notes... Aaron Ahuvia, an assistant professor of marketing at University of Michigan-Dearborn, was hired by to study the reaction of students and faculty to the service...

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From the Business Wire, September 21, 1999

Completion of First-Round Financing Bolsters's Position as Web's Strongest Academic Community, the fastest-growing national academic community and resource for lecture notes online, today announced the completion of its first round of financing, yielding $ 11.2 million in venture funds to fuel the company's operations, technology infrastructure and marketing initiatives. Lead investors include Venrock Associates, Sigma Partners, Global Retail Partners (GRP), and Kevin O'Connor, CEO & Co-Founder of DoubleClick... has solidified its board of directors to include Rothrock, Davoli, Jeff Lawson, co-founder, President and Chief Operating Officer of, and Chuck Berman, newly appointed CEO of "We are pleased to meet our financing goals with the support of such prominent investors, many of whom have cheered Versity along from day one," said Jeremy Lappin, CFO of

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From the NBC show Saturday Today, September 18, 1999

Jeff Lawson and Professor Paul Gronke Discuss New Online Service Providing Class Notes to College Students (hosted by Soledad O'Brien)

There is a new service on the Internet that has sparked debate. Finding college lecture notes on the Web. Jeff Lawson co-founded and he pays college students to post their class notes online. Paul Gronke is a professor of political science at Duke University he has some concerns about all of this.

(from the interview) ...Professor Gronke, what are your concerns about this service?
Well, I think that it could potentially hurt the students because, I agree with you, Soledad, it encourages them not to attend class. I also think, from the professor's perspective, it can hurt faculty because it can muzzle our voice, it can stifle us. And we--we lose control of the things we say in class--in the class. They're, you know, put on the Web for every one to see.
...How would a professor lose control of what he's saying in class if students are just writing it and putting it out on the Web? Well, I can imagine two situations. One is, sometimes I give lectures on things like hate speech or, you know, freedom of speech. And sometimes I'll say things in that classroom or encourage other students to say things that I really don't want to see on the written page. I lose facial expressions, I lose body language, I lose control of what I say in the classroom... I have control of my own intellectual property, not

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From The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 1999

Colleges Object as Companies Put Course Notes on Web Sites, by Goldie Blumenstyk

New Internet companies that pay students to take notes in classes and then post the material on the World-Wide Web are raising the ire of professors and administrators at several colleges and universities... At least one institution, Kansas State University, says the companies' practice infringes on the copyright that professors hold on their course materials. "Regardless of whether a fee is charged for the notes, the publication of class notes by someone other than the professor or the University constitutes copyright infringement," said the provost, James R. Coffman... One of the commercial sites,, has apparently hired several Kansas State students to provide notes for about a dozen courses, including "Physical Activity in Contemporary Society." Mary McElroy, the professor who teaches that course, said she had not given any company permission to take notes or to post materials on the Internet. She said she feared students might use the site rather than attend class. She is also concerned that the "chat rooms" the site provides for each course might become spots where "erroneous information can be discussed and reinforced..."

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From the Newsbeat, September 7, 1999 is Selling What College Kids REALLY Need: Lecture Notes!,
by John Gaffney

In a space where companies like BigWords, eFollett, eCampus, and Dorm Store are hitting the airwaves with mega ad campaigns in hopes of obtaining maximum dollars from the $8 billion back to college market, is going for their minds... [Founder Lawson stated", "Our campus-specific model has proven to be very effective," he said. "The money will allow us to grow faster by reaching more students." And "down the line," perhaps there will be a public offering.

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From The Associated Press, September 17, 1999

Instructors Say Online Notes Unethical, by Becky Bohrer

Instructors at Iowa State University want to prevent students from selling class notes to an online service without their permission, saying it violates a school rule. "We expect students to abide by this as a rule of ethics," said Paul Tanaka, director of university legal services on the Ames campus. Some faculty members believe that rule is violated by, a Web site launched earlier this month that posts student notes from classes offered by more than 70 schools in the country... Marcia Prior-Miller, an associate professor at ISU's journalism school, calls the site the "short view and the unethical view" of education and an "abuse of the intellectual university environment."...

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From the University Wire, September 17, 1999

Iowa State U. notes services come under fire, by Andrew Brodie

..."Our policy is designed on the basis that we believe it's unethical for students to sell their notes," said Paul Tanaka, director of University Legal Services. "Rather than take legal action against notes services, we're attempting to put control of the issue in the hands of the faculty."

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From the University Wire, September 17, 1999

Making lectures more than notes, by Jordana R. Lewis (Harvard Crimson)

Years ago, German sociologist Max Weber wrote that America's expectations of a successful young academic were such that he could "draw large crowds of students" to his lectures. His charisma, his style and his temperament were more significant motivations for a student to enroll in a lecture class than the material itself.

... Inevitably, will also be much appreciated by students too hung over to attend classes, too lazy to get out of bed... Yet missing from this equation is a component never to be recreated in any electronic form--the intellectual buzz of a lecture hall, the students' awe at their professor's provoking ideas and the furiously scribbled note that captures that exciting moment of comprehension. Never can or will an Internet site provide the visceral excitement of learning, and alone will this crucial factor keep students attending class at the 62 universities affiliated with Wolf's Web site.

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From The Columbus Dispatch, September 16, 1999

Sour Notes Lectures Posted on Web Lack Key Ingredients (Editorial)

... One thoroughly disgusted professor thinks the service should have an entirely different name: There is no lack of critics ready to attack this service as the death of higher education... The enterprising creator of the site is Oran Wolf, 27, a graduate of the University of Texas. He expects to profit by selling advertising banners on his service...

Todd Gitlin, a professor of culture and journalism at New York University, makes the salient point that at its best, higher education is a meeting of minds, the students' and the teacher's. It is this kind of spark, going back and forth, that affords the most enlightenment. Without that, instruction is merely a collection of notes...

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From the University Wire, September 14, 1999

U. Missouri course notes appear on web without profs' consent, by Matthew Mortellaro (The Maneater)

...Web sites such as and are offering class notes online and recruiting students nationwide to post notes. The average note-taker can earn $ 400 per semester for submitting their notes after every class.

...At one point, notes from Professor Don Ranly's journalism 200 course were posted on without his knowledge. "In the past, it was my understanding that these note-takers had to get the permission of the professor first," he said. Ranly said those working for never contacted him. Ranly said if he had been informed, he would not have given approval.

...Ranly also said he believes distance-learning is not an effective teaching method. "I don't want to sound old-fashioned, but something more happens when we have face-to-face learning," he said. Ranly also said students learn more through listening, note-taking and discussing than through simply reading notes off the Web.

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From the University Wire, September 16, 1999

Class notes advance to Internet at Penn State U., but Tracy Wilson

... "New technology has changed education radically. It's never going back to how it used to be," said Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the Schreyer Honors College, at last week's Board of Trustees meeting...

"You can legally go out and do a lot of things, but are they ethically sound decisions?" said Joseph Puzycki, director of the Office of Judicial Affairs. "Ultimately, the student is shortchanged," Puzycki added. "If they don't do their work, they don't move through the educational process. The process is just as important as the result."

The University of Virginia, which has a relatively comprehensive honors code, has guidelines in place for Internet research resources. Britton Williston [said that] "Generally, it is believed to break the spirit of the honors system. It's not in the realm of the community of trust".

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Cribware by Peter W. Wood, Boston University, September 10, 1999

... helping the professor extend his expertise beyond the classroom is not what does. Rather, it offers hit-or-miss note-taking by students who are just finding their way in the classes they report on. Their notes are a kind of electronic hearsay, and the errors they contain are amplified a thousand times over by the Internet. What’s missing on the website is the governing context of the class...

...The student who accepts $300 surreptitiously to report on a class betrays a trust with his professor. And the Internet site that publishes such purloined words and ideas violates the professor’s copyright. In the end, I suppose, this will come down to a court decision that pits the alleged free speech of the sneaky student and parasitical marketeer against the intellectual property claims of the scholar. For the sake of higher education, I hope the scholar wins.

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From USA Today, September 15, 1999

Net notes...

... Among the gripes: Students who substitute attendance with Net notes "miss the opportunity for exchange, for questioning, for that puzzled look that immediately informs the professor that a fuller explanation of a point is needed." That's according to Bill Cooper, president of the University of Richmond...

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From The Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 1999
The Monitor's View: Toward a Virtual Degree (Editorial)

It hardly comes as a surprise that some enterprising former college student, hungry for a slice of the e-commerce pie, came up with the idea of a Web site to dispense lecture notes. It must have seemed a perfect fit: Using the ever-more-popular Internet to avoid hours of professorial droning.

But what's commercially awesome could prove educationally awful... The crucial work of thinking through a professor's words - and perhaps taking issue with them in the process - isn't being done. The net result could be a virtual education instead of a real one. Students who know why they're at college are smart enough to know the difference.

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From The Houston Chronicle, September 14, 1999
C is for controversy - Company buys, posts class notes - product angers some academics, by Greg Hassell

... Considering that it's often done without the knowledge or permission of professors or college administrations, basically is an unauthorized marriage of technology and academia...

Robert Heath, University of Houston (Communications), states "...this kind of service can allow students to stay at home and never come to campus. I am a traditionalist, and I don't like putting more distance between us... Every great culture set aside a place for people to come together and study. Any student who willfully bypasses the opportunity to share ideas in a personal setting is missing out "on the richness of getting an education" and is settling for "the dullness of getting a degree," Heath said.

..."The college market is one of the most desirable markets for companies because that is the age when many people form their brand loyalties," creator of, Oran Wolf, said.

"It is an injury to higher education," said Peter Wood, a professor of anthropology and associate provost at Boston University. "Students are being tempted to make use of something that will undercut what they should be doing - going to class. It will look like a sweet deal to the students who are most in need of what goes on in the classroom." Wood also raises the issue of who actually owns the text of a lecture, suggesting it belongs to the professor and is not common property for students to sell. "Faculty members have invested our careers and our lives developing these courses. We have spent endless hours reading books and developing our own insights," he said. "To have that taken away for commercial exploitation by someone who doesn't care about the quality is offensive, and it may be illegal."

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From The New York Times, September 9, 1999
Free College Notes on Web: Aid to Learning, or Laziness?, by Jacques Steinberg

A new Internet venture called The creator of the site, Oran Wolf,... hopes to earn a profit through advertisements,...

There is no shortage of critics who believe that the arrival of Mr. Wolf's venture -- along with other Web sites that sell sample term papers and synopses of great books -- signals nothing less than the erosion of liberal education, if not civilization. Peter Wood, a professor of anthropology and the associate provost at Boston University, which is also on Mr. Wolf's list, said the university might consider taking legal action once notes from the university appear on the site -- which, as of yesterday, they had not. "I, like thousands of faculty members, spent a great deal of time developing my courses within a specific intellectual context, a context that I control," he said. "For someone who is not educated in my field to offer what could be erroneous versions of that material, without my permission, strikes me as something which could potentially be illegal."(see online article).

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From The New York Times, September 10, 1999
Disappearing Ink (editorial), by Todd Gitlin

...Education by Download misses one of the keys to learning. Education is a meeting of minds, a process through which the student educes, draws from within, a response to what a teacher teaches. The very act of taking notes -- not reading somebody else's notes, no matter how stellar -- is a way of engaging the material, wrestling with it, struggling to comprehend or to take issue, but in any case entering into the work. The point is to decide, while you're listening, what matters in the presentation. And while I don't believe that most of life consists of showing up, education does begin with that -- with immersing yourself in the activity at hand, listening, thinking, judging, offering active responses. A download is a poor substitute...

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From CBS show This Morning, September 10, 1999

Oran Wolf, creator of, and Professor Peter Wood, discus the controversy over the new web site that posts notes (hosted by Thalia Assuras)

This week, a new Web site called started up... The Web site has hired students from 62 major colleges and universities, pays them $ 300 per semester to put their notes on the Web...

(interview) ...Professor Wood, how does that sound to you...?
Prof. WOOD: Well, that's good advice, but it's good advice for using a bad product. The real problem with class notes up on the Internet is that professors just don't have any control or influence over what goes into those notes. They may contain mistakes, they may have omissions. They certainly don't contain the expertise of the professor. The students who are taking the notes obviously don't know the subject. If they did, they'd be teaching the class, not taking it....
ASSURAS:... you're considering a lawsuit. Kind of explain that for us, would you?
Prof. WOOD: Well, I do have concerns that intellectual property rights are being trampled by this. A professor spends many years developing a course typically. It's a serious undertaking. And what goes into that class is a lot more than what most students are able to write down in a notebook... And I wonder whether some law might be broken. I'm not a lawyer. I would think, however, the same laws that protect the copyright of the lecture, you just can't go into a class and tape-record somebody's lecture and then go out and sell it or--or even provide it for free. This isn't very different from that. It--it's just taking a reduced form of the lecture or of the seminar and presenting it to the general public without the permission of the person who originated the material...

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From the Chronicle, September 6 1999 takes advantage of student notetakers (letter to the editor)

...Sitting at home and cribbing with online notes would be risky at best. How does know if the notes are actually high-quality? They say theyPill check them for spelling errors, but how can they possibly know if the content is up to par?... Even the notetakers are getting a bad deal. After attending class and then transferring their notes to a computer, their $8 payment will be less than minimum wage. is not doing notetakers any favors... You've already paid handsomely for the Duke experience so stick with it and attend class or at least organize yourselves at the local level to pick up missed lecture notes..

David Uhler (research aide, Duke Clinical Research Institute).

Full letter at The Chronicle.

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From The Chronicle (at Duke), September 3, 1999

A changing landscape (editorial)

With a few fliers and a stash of cash, may soon transform Duke University's academic landscape... Reading notes from a web site is not equivalent to actually taking the class. The impersonality of the Internet cannot match the face-to-face interaction of a classroom, even in a big lecture course... if a professor clearly indicates that the notes are not to be used, there is the possibility that a student could face judicial action for using a contraband source. To avoid such sensitive situations, professors need to set explicit ground rules for their classes at the beginning of each semester, addressing collaboration among students and the propriety of using Internet resources like

Full editorial at The Chronicle.

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From the Cavalier Daily, September 10, 1999

Web sites pay students for notes, by Katie Dalton (@ University of Virginia)

Several Web sites now are offering University students money for posting their course notes on the Internet, a practice University and Honor Committee officials say may challenge the University's ideals of intellectual integrity. Two such sites, and, offer students up to $ 300 and $ 400 per semester, respectively.

... Julian Bond, University lecturer and NAACP chairman, said he does not allow students to sell notes from his courses because they ideas and work that are his property... These Web sites also have raised questions about the practicality of substituting study guides for class attendance at the University... Faculty Senate Chairman David T. Gies said ... "I would suspect that students soon would learn it is not the best way to get an education."

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From Cox News Service, September 3, 1999

Coming Soon: Free College Class Notes on the Internet, by Bob Dart

...Posting lecture notes on the Internet could be considered a misappropriation of intellectual property if a professor has not given permission for the work to be circulated, said Iris Molotsky, a spokeswoman for the American Association of University Professors. But more important, she said, "students gain something from being in a classroom. A very large part of a college education is the exchange between teacher and student."...

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From The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 5, 1999

Online service delivers class notes to students, by Bob Dart

The criticism was strong from Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs at Duke University. "This is a way to subvert the system, a way to avoid individual responsibility and accountability," she told The Chronicle, Duke's campus newspaper. "This seems like an unfair, unproductive, inconsistent shortcut."...

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From The Chronicle, September 1, 1999

Note sharing moves into tech age with, by Jaime Levy (@ Duke)

... Flyers posted around campus this weekend read "Psssst! has FREE LECTURE NOTES! pass-it-on!"... "This is a way to subvert the system, a way to avoid individual responsibility and accountability...," said Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs. "This seems like an unfair, unproductive, inconsistent shortcut."...

Associate Professor of Public Policy Studies Fritz Mayer, whose PPS 55 lecture is mentioned on, said his problems with the system go beyond hard numbers of students skipping class. "As a matter of principle, I object to the idea of... selling and reselling what I and other professors do at Duke," he said, comparing's system to bootlegging tapes... Wasiolek had a similar reaction: "It seems like you're paying someone to engage in a process that you have asked to have the opportunity to do yourself. People ask to be admitted so they could experience learning.... For someone else to engage in the process for you seems to defeat a good portion of the purpose of being here."...

"It's the first step down the road to not teaching class in a public forum and just having me putting notes online," said Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology Charles Piot, whose CA 93 class is listed on the website. "People say it's the wave of the future, but there's a lot to be gained by a face-to-face encounter," he said.

Full story at The Chronicle.

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From the Business Wire, September 1, 1999

College Bookstores Aim to Educate Students on the Risks of Buying Textbooks From National Online ''Discounters''; ''Don't Take the Bait,'' Students Are Warned

...As national "online-only" booksellers continue to target college campuses with promises of huge "discounts" on textbooks, the National Association of College Stores (NACS) is conducting a grassroots campaign so local college stores nationwide can caution students on the perils of buying from these sites.... "most students will find that they're really not getting a bargain..."

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From The Boston Herald, May 31, 1999 Revolutionizes Web Service, by Rosemary Herbert The Web-based intranet application of the same name is helping university and college communities to get... class notes... With former state Treasurer Joe Malone leading the company's marketing and communications, is poised to draw in students...

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From The Plain Dealer, September 13, 1999
Forget About Making Notes, by Mano Singham

...For me, the problem with this notes scheme is not moral or financial or ethical. The problem is that it does a disservice to students by reinforcing a false notion of what knowledge is. It makes them think that knowledge is something "out there," residing in books, notes, videos and teachers, and that students can access that knowledge by accessing the source.
... Learning something new requires a complete restructuring of knowledge in the learner's brain and that can only be done by interacting with other people and with inert sources. If students want distilled wisdom, they have no choice but to distill it themselves.

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From The Boston Globe, July 25, 1999
Harvard wars with firm over Web site: Politics underlies spat on school ties,
by James Bandler, the former Beijing student leader's company, was already under fire, this time from the legal guns at the Harvard Business School... Now, the dispute is out in the open... Indeed, the business school - like Harvard University as a whole - jealously guards the use of its name. Perhaps as many as 50 times a year, the university counsel's office swings into action, sending out cease-and-desist letters to companies and individuals that are trying to improperly capitalize on the Harvard name...

The dispute has been embarrassing for Jenzabar's team, which includes many politically connected individuals, including former Massachusetts Treasurer Joe Malone, the company's director of development. Legal counsel is provided by former governor William F. Weld and his law firm, according to a Jenzabar spokesman. The company's chairman is Chai's fiance, millionaire Robert Maginn, who lost a race last year to succeed Malone as treasurer.

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The San Francisco Chronicle, June 16, 1999

UC Sues Firm Providing Shoddy Lecture Notes

Unauthorized note-takers are infiltrating classrooms and selling students poor-quality lecture notes, according to a lawsuit filed by the University of California's Board of Regents. The RR Lecture Notes company, also known as Research and Report Corp. and R&R Corp., has been selling class notes without UC's permission since 1995, according to the suit filed in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland...

..."These guys are really out there," said Michael Goldstein, counsel for the UC Regents. "We need to prevent them from conducting their operations on campus because we have faculty and students who are trying to get things done."

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From the Daily Collegian (Penn. St. U. Park Campus), November 2, 1998
Website Provides Lecture Notes, Links To Class Sites, by Tracy Wilson

... Mario Ciabarra, founder of Yournotes, a nonprofitDictionary organization whose World Wide Web site ( provides... notes for eight classes, typically those with more than 300 students. "Some may be looking for an easy way out," Doug Wilson (junior-mechanical engineering) said... Expansion depends upon funding from sponsors.

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From the Daily Bruin, April 26, 1999

Taking on Note-Taking Companies, by Brian Fishman

In response to what the university says are illegal activities by the Research & Report Corporation (R&R), an off-campus company that provides lecture notes, administrators are attempting to kick R&R off of the UCLA campus. Last year R&R was accused of violating professors' intellectual propertyrights by paraphrasing and then selling transcripts of lectures. That dispute ended with an R&R lawsuit against UCLA Professor Thomas Minor,which was later thrown out of court.

This year, R&R has been accused by administrators of not only infringing on professors' intellectual property rights, but also harassing students andviolating university policy by procuring and then selling lecture noteswithout UCLA's permission.

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From the Daily Bruin, May 7, 1999

UCLA Up in Arms Over R&R Corp.'s Selling of Class Notes, by Brian Fishman

Good notes are golden if you don't want to go to class. Previously, you had to either bum off a friend or buy ASUCLA notes. But now a new company is trying to break into the lucrative lecture note market by selling notes for classes ASUCLA does not cover. But the Research and Report Corporations' experiment at UCLA has angered administrators and professors.

Claiming that R&R Services violates campus trespassing policies and professors' rights to intellectual property, administrators and professors have united to force the R&R Corporation to stop collecting and selling lecture notes without permission.

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Kentucky Kernel U. of Kentucky, May 15, 1999

“24-7” Study Site Includes Notes and Discussions, by John Wampler

Study 24-7, the brainchild of University of Florida graduate Brian Maser and University of Pennsylvania graduate Craig Green, is a website with a lecture note area, a discussion group section and a chatroom... Aside from being able to study on the Internet, Study 24-7 advertises that students posting their own notes have the chance to earn up to $1,500.

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From The Lantern, June 4, 1999

Website Offering Free Class Notes Angers Professors, by Brandin Komives

...Albert Churella, a lecturer in the OSU history department, said the notes Versity offers for his History 152 class contain serious inaccuracies, are poorly organized and do not provide much more information than the outline provides.

Lecturer Marianne Holdzkom [said] "This organization is doing nothing less than stealing and profiting from my intellectual property." ... "My class is not just about learning history," she said. "It's also about learning to take notes, to process information, to synthesize material and to think critically about that material."... Notes services like Versity do raise copyright and other legal issues, but these issues are situation specific, said Steven McDonald, associate legal council with the Office of Legal Affairs.

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From the University Wire, June 4, 1999

On-line notes service angers some profs, by Brandin Komives

A new web site offering unauthorized class notes has angered some Ohio State instructors. features an on-line college community with free lecture notes... Lecturer Marianne Holdzkom, whose History 151 class is also covered by Versity, has not personally looked at the web site, but said two of her associates said the quality of the notes for her class declined as the quarter progressed. Students miss too much learning when they only use these notes to study, Holdzkom said. "My class is not just about learning history," she said. "It's also about learning to take notes, to process information, to synthesize material and to think critically about that material."

Dave Ferguson, director of academic communications for the Office of Academic Affairs, said using any educational tool as a shortcut or replacement for work that is required detracts from the reasons students attend a university...

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From The State News (Michigan St. U.), March 26, 1999

Students Getting Notes Online Rather than in Class, by Daniel Duggan

While students have long been able to buy class notes, they now can go online for free notes. But some professors say the same problems with the paper notes also existonline.
Students can buy class notes from note-taking services such as theNotebook... The notes available online for free from are abetter deal for students, said CEO Jeff Lawson.

... Some professors see it as a violation of their intellectual propertyrights, as a hindrance to students' learning and as an inaccurate source ofinformation. Criminal Justice Professor Frank Horvath said this can be a violation ofintellectual property... Psychology Professor Lester Hyman, who teaches a freshman-level psychology course, is not concerned about intellectual property rights, but about students learning.

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From The Arbiter, February 24, 1999

Web site offers chance to make money for taking notes, by Jessi Loerch

A new Internet service offers college students the chance to make money and study on-line. Study 24-7, located at, provides an interactive web site with class notes, study chat rooms and discussion groups. The program went online Jan. 18... Due to earnings depending upon number of visitors, lecture classes present the best opportunity for money making. Dan Morris, communication professor, points out that at BSU few classes take place in large lecture situations... He says notes should only be used as a reference, not as an excuse for skipping class.

See full story online.

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From The Independent Florida Alligator, February 5, 1999

Internet offers free class notes: Web site also gives students chance to earn money,
by Blake McDowell

The Web site... allows students to obtain free class notes taken by fellow students, to discuss academic and social issues, and to earn up to $1500 a semester by volunteering to take class notes, Maser said. "We are an entrepreneurial site..." Maser said.

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From The Post, Ohio University, February 19, 1999

Web site provides new-age study guides, by Amy Beaudreault

...The site does have a disclaimer warning students the site is not to be relied upon in place of class attendance. It also does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the notes. But, Borello thinks the site is beneficial because it presents a unique opportunity for students to earn money.

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From The Griffon News, February 2, 1999

Virtual notes available online, by Mistie Householter

...The only background information Study 24-7 requires is a 3.0 grade point average. Maser said he gives everyone an opportunity to be a notetaker because the quality of their notes and number of people that hit the site will determine how much they earn.

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From the Minnesota State University, Mankato Reporter, March 2, 1999

New site allows students to Study 24-7, by Susan Goodman

..."It's a win-win situation, whether you study with 'Study 24-7' or earn money as a NoteTaker," Maser said... "Study 24-7" offers incentives for every student involved with the web-site. The NoteTaker who attracts the most traffic to his/her sites will win an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii or Costa Rico, and the NoteTaker who has the best-looking sites will win a trip to Mexico or Florida. Additionally, the student who spends the most time using "Study 24-7" will win a trip to Hawaii or Costa Rico, and a random "Study 24-7" user will win a trip to Mexico or Florida.

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From the Daily Illini Reporter, January 26, 1999 new competitor in local note-taking services: New business offers free notes over the Internet, by Laura Anderson and Karen Jagiello

In the age of the Internet, the new company has created competition for two local businesses... I-Notes and Notes-n-Quotes sell lecture notes to University students, whereas the new Web site offers notes for certain classes for free... Notes-n-Quotes offers the highest pay for its note takers -$13 for every one-hour lecture and $15 for a class lasting more than one hour. offers $8 to note takers for every lecture regardless of length.

Full story at Daily Illini.

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From the Cavalier Daily, September 5, 1997

The AccuNotes website - Started by a student, the new site sells lecture class notes and is creating a stir among the faculty, by Jill F. Johnson

A new student service allowing students to buy and sell notes taken in lecture courses is stirring up controversy among University faculty and raising questions regarding the ethics of University students. "We hire two note-takers for each class," Wyatt said... The notes then are posted on a secured server on the Internet and sold directly from the site for $1.99.

... "I don't consider it to be an honor violation, but it's unethical and I question its use," Assoc. Biology Prof. Michael Wormington said... Religious Studies Department Chairman Harry Gamble said he believes the note-selling service will have a negative impact on students ability to learn... It "infringes on the intellectual property rights of the faculty members and deprives the students of an essential skill," he added... First-year College student Tom Mulherin said he would not participate in the AccuNotes service. "If you're buying notes, why are you going to class? You're already paying for the class to begin with," Mulherin said.

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From The Cavalier Daily, September 25, 1997

Student business to delay note sale, by Christina Jenkins and Nicole Phillips

AccuNotes, a fledgling lecture note provider, temporarily has suspended operations for the fall semester amid a flurry of criticism... As of yesterday, he said he was not yet offering the service, saying he was still in the process of soliciting note takers... "The product is simply an attempt to make it easier for students to cut classes," Art Department Chairman Lawrence Goedde said in a recent e-mail message to Wyatt. "I think students should take their own notes unless they are physically disabled or have some sort of learning disability."

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From the The Cavalier Daily September 18, 1997

Prof. approval (letter by Michael J. Cabral)

...If the lectures themselves are copyrighted, then students would not be able to sell their notes to AccuNotes. ...if the professor does not give permission, then the students would not be able to sell the notes... If the lecture is completely oral and the student takes notes on the discussion, I agree with this. If, however, the lecture involves the professor writing on the board, then all information copied from the board would be subject to the copyright law.

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From The Cavalier Daily, September 10, 1997

AccuNotes: Couch potatoes' dreams come true - Service undercuts purpose of attending classes at University, by Amy Startt

... As may have been expected, some University professors are less than thrilled with the prospect of having their lecture notes taken and sold by an outside service... I trust a profeesor to tell me what the most important points of a lecture are. But I'm not sure I'm willing to give a fellow student, no matter how meticulous their notes, the same kind of judgement... In discussing the limits of liability, the web site specifically disclaims reponsibility for "damages for loss in academic performance, reduced current or future income due to lessened academic performance, and the like." ...I only hope that, as students at one of the country's most respected universities, we can remember that we are here to learn and not to survive academically as leeches...

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From The San Francisco Chronicle, May 17, 1994

"No, But I Bought the Notes", by Ben Wildavsky

On page 32 of the Stanford University directory, alongside information on tutoring and study-abroad programs, an equally matter-of-fact listing offers students a scholarly shortcut that makes academic purists cringe. Undergraduates ''stuck in large classes'' who want ''to ease the boring lecture burden'' can -- for a modest price -- hire an expert to go to class, take notes and type them up neatly for delivery within days... But critics say that students who hire note-takers are, in effect, paying others to do their intellectual heavy lifting. Ultimately, the critics charge, buying class notes erodes the foundation of higher education...

Most services do ask instructors' permission. Some even offer to pay professors royalties -- 50 cents for each subscriber in a class is the going rate at UC Berkeley. Still, a number of scholars refuse to give the go-ahead. UC Berkeley plant biologist Richard Malkin, irked that students were skipping his 8 a.m. lectures, stopped allowing note-takers into his large introductory biology class several years ago... Stanford political scientist David Abernethy also keeps paid note-takers out of his classroom, saying students learn more actively when they take their own notes...

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From the St. Petersburg Times, November 25, 1993
Copyrights don't cover class notes, by Edie Gross

A company that hires University of Florida students to take notes in class and then sells those notes for a profit is not violating professors' copyrights, a federal jury has decided. UF's 1990 lawsuit against KPB Inc., the parent company of A Plus Notes, alleged the note-taking company infringed copyrights... But A Plus Notes attorney John Kirkpatrick of Miami convinced the seven-member jury that professors' lectures are not protected... That argument did not convince UF assistant journalism professor Laurence Alexander, who discourages students in his law of mass communications class from selling their notes to A Plus. "I just think whenever you take a professor's notes and sell them at a profit without his permission, you violate his copyright," Alexander said. "It's a mistake to open up the door to all kinds of violations of one's private property."...

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From the The Daily Telegraph, December 13, 1993

Crib-sheet war lost by professors, by Hugh Davies

Academics at an American university have lost their battle of the "crib-sheet"... From an office just a street away from the University of Florida campus, in Gainsville, Mr Ken Brickman, 30, runs a thriving end-of-term business in the study guides... The academics are furious. Apart from what they claim is a "rip off" of their brain power, they say the business is encouraging hundreds of students to miss classes. One professor said that it was "a no-fault, low-tech form of cheating"...

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From USA TODAY, December 17, 1993

Buying notes is stealing, by Helen Irvin

Whose lectures are they, anyhow? Classroom lectures are products of the professors' scholarship: study, research, experience, thought, imagination and hard work. Lectures are the property of professors who create them, and they are entitled to the protection of copyright laws... Students would prefer to take small classes, professors would prefer to teach them, and financially strapped colleges and universities undoubtedly would like to offer more of them, if they could. The rewards of such an education are great. Canned note-selling can never replace that - or any other - classroom experience.

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The Washington Post, December 12, 1993

A New Learning Curve on Campus: Cash for Class Notes, by Mary Jordan

"I find the surreptitious note-taking for commercial gain reprehensible," said Ann H. Franke, counsel to the American Association of University Professors. Ralph Lowenstein, the dean of UF's School of Journalism and Communications, said hiring someone to take notes is not much better than hiring someone to write a term paper: "It's a no-fault, low-tech form of cheating."... "It will come at a price to the student," said John T. Casteen III, president of the University of Virginia. He said he hoped "the danger of only reading the notes will become apparent to students quickly."... Already, some professors have begun to put copyrights on their charts and notes used on overhead projectors. A few have started buying the notes, correcting them and putting them in the library for students to use free. There is even talk about some university departments starting their own note-taking business.