Thursday, February 14, 2013

A, B, ©, D, F

The first story I ever remember writing down came in the second grade, I believe, when I told how a caveman named Big Muscles invented the polka dot. For the curious, it involved him spilling some of his paint as he prepared to make a picture of some animal on the wall of his cave and the spilled paint taking on series of circular shapes.

If I were to try to write the same story in a second grade class today in Maryland, the state of Maryland would assert it owned the copyright on the fruit of my seven-year-old imagination and its synthesis of reading about cave paintings and the assignment to write a story about either A) The invention of the polka dot or B), a day of raining frogs (Believe me, if I knew why I remembered this stuff I would direct that ability towards recall of more useful information).

Maryland's department of education proclaims this copyright, apparently, as a way of trying to make sure teachers don't start selling lesson plans they created on school time using school resources. Most businesses own such work product and the school may be reminding its teachers of that.

But trying to claim copyright of the students' work? The blog post cites a quote from a Wired article on the subject, from a law professor who notes that those who originate work are the presumptive owners unless some other kind of contract is in place. Maryland is in deep legal stuff if it tries to claim otherwise.

So, should young Junior amble off to pre-kindergarten and apply his brilliant eye for color and form to the paper his parents bought for his school supplies, using the crayons his parents bought for his school supplies, and create a masterpiece that the curator of the Louvre insists must, must take its rightful place with the Great Masters and money is no object? Well, that unobjectionable amount of money goes to Junior, Mom and Dad and not one dime to to school system. Nor to Junior's sister, as she ratted him out during the Missing Cookie Affair. Unless, of course, the school system can produce a signed contract wherein Junior relinquished his rights to his work, based on it being produced under the auspices of the school.

And that's unlikely, because pre-K Junior has yet to master writing his entire last name and thus finds it difficult to sign such a contract. He can, however, provide a lovely over-color of periwinkle.

(H/T Dustbury)

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