Note debate

Taking a page from Mark Zuckerberg’s playbook, recent Sacramento State grad Ryan Stevens hoped to put his business degree to good use when he started a new breed of social networking websites in August.

Similar to the Facebook founder, Stevens is running into legal issues early on.

The problem with Stevens’ site — NoteUtopia.com, which encourages students to interact with one another and sell their class notes, old tests, homework and other academic materials — is that the dissemination or publication of academic presentations (including handwritten notes) for commercial purposes is prohibited by California law.

When the CSU caught wind of Stevens promoting the new site at some CSU campuses, it sent a cease and desist letter and also reminded students via an email memo that it is against the Student Conduct Code to sell notes. Students who do are subject to discipline, up through and including expulsion from the institution.

At issue are student rights and the argument that if a student summarizes a lecture, he or she should own the copyright to those materials.

The way I see it, this really isn’t an issue of dishonesty or cheating. It’s more about giving students an easy way around the learning process.

There is no substitute for learning the old fashion way — going to class, listening and writing down one’s own notes.

It’s clear that this topic is far from settled. Stay tuned. It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

— Rob Meszaros, Director of Public Affairs and Communications

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