Archive for Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Copyright lawsuit threatens Internet posting for classes; KU professor weighs in on multiple sclerosis study; KU graduation photos available on Facebook

June 1, 2011


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• With summer settling in at KU, the pace of news has slowed a bit, but we’ve still got a few items to report.

First, I spotted an interesting lawsuit that deals with the way copyright law applies to the classroom. The court case — Cambridge University Press et al. v. Patton et al — will be one to watch, for sure.

As explained in the Wall Street Journal, the current law allows professors to make multiple copies of copyrighted material for classroom use without charge.

But big packets of documents — multiple articles in course packs — require permission, and that usually means students have to fork over cash for them.

I ran into that when I was a student at KU, but the latest lawsuit is striking back against professors who make the material available online to students for free.

The Wall Street Journal got an opinion from David Shulenburger, the former KU provost, who is now a senior fellow at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (an organization whose name has improved from the previous National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, or the extremely unwieldy acronym NASULGC).

He didn’t hold back, calling the lawsuit “part of an undeclared war on academic fair use. … This stunning money grab should serve as a wake-up call to academics; it shows that our core interest — the widest possible access to information, especially in the classroom — is in direct conflict with the interests of some of the publishers to whom we have entrusted our scholarship.”

• A KU Medical Center professor earned a mention in USA Today discussing a study that reports that stress does not increase the risk of getting multiple sclerosis.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, reported no significantly higher risk of MS among those reporting severe stress or physical or sexual abuse.

Sharon Lynch, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Clinic at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, says it's a good study; but added that "stress to one person is not stress to another."

• This year, the KU chancellor again encouraged students at commencement to take photos of themselves and email them in to KU so they could be posted on Facebook.

That has happened, and you can look at the results here.

• The best way to beat the heat is to submit tips for Heard on the Hill. That might not be 100 percent true, but you should submit tips anyway. Just send me an email at


John Hamm 6 years, 7 months ago

KU the university that wants to sue anybody for using any semblance of the Jayhawk, name or even (it seems) the colors red and blue is worried that professors might have to adhere to copyright law for materials they think they should get for free. Oh Karma how I love thee.......

LogicMan 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes. Respect for IP rights is a fundamental pillar of an advanced and just civilization.

footnote2 6 years, 7 months ago

I remember KU's legal pursuit in the early 90s of Kutztown University (Pennyslvania) over the close resemblance of the two universities' logos, both based on the letters K and U. The Univ. of Kansas probably didn't convince anybody that it was being damaged financially or otherwise but that did not deter its administration from claiming exclusive ownership of the logo. How much more substantial than the logo case is one involving the printed contents of journals? Is the pot calling the kettle black?

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 7 months ago

Actually, you don't remember anything but a well worn myth.

The kerfuffle with Kutztown was only a few years ago, and there was no legal pursuit. There was give and take between KU and Kutztown and the two schools ultimately reached an agreement, but there was never any legal pursuit of Kutztwon. In fact, Kutztown still uses KU and still uses the similar font.

Perhaps you are confusing the University of Kansas with the University of Wisconsin, which did indeed legally challenge the right of universities like Washburn to use a big W as their logo.

copyright 6 years, 7 months ago

Some of the attribution info is outdated. See LJWorld link:

ahyland 6 years, 7 months ago

Though Shulenburger has retired as the APLU's vice president for academic affairs, he's still a senior fellow for the organization.

Andy Hyland

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