Posted by: JenLuecht | November 13, 2014

It’s as Simple as Black and White: The Cost of a Copyrighted Education


When pouring over the concepts of copyright and Fair Use, one phrase kept coming to mind: “For the exclusive use of J. Luecht.” The academic articles I have been devouring over the past few months had burned this into my memory – the ones I had purchased for class were laced with these exact words, and others accessed through our university always contained something similar outlining copyright rules. As students, we are investing time and money to become experts in a subject. We are consuming concepts from academics and industry professionals who have built careers out of researching information and presenting new ideas.

Access to new information has the power to change one’s opinion on various topics and encourage political participation. But, if some information is only accessible to those who hold the keys, and the barriers to entry include economic situation and physical location, what is the cost of exchanging money for ideas?

Consider the federal government’s recent investigation into the closure of some of Chicago’s public schools and programs following civil rights complaints . What does the creation of The Chicago Public School Resistance and #OccupyCPS have to say about the access to education within our nation? Whose voice does the government and school system represent, and who is being left out?

We pay to access different levels of information via taxes, universities, after school programs, etc. Who are the gatekeepers to education?


  1. You bring up a point I’ve been chewing on for a while which has been eating at me for some time. You referenced how our scholastic papers have the name of the person who purchased them and that it states that said paper is for the exclusive use of said person.

    So if you read the Copyright Act of 1976:

    “Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”

    So…under those guidelines, couldn’t a teacher/academic instructor produce X copies for his/her classroom without there being any form of copyright infringement? And if yes, why aren’t teachers doing so, instead making us shell out additional $$? It doesn’t seem logical. If I were an instructor, all required classroom readings would be readily available to my students without there being additional costs or the need to independently aggregate various materials from decentralized repositories.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: