Are Course Syllabi Covered by Copyright?

Sep 29, 2014 | 

George Leef

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Are Course Syllabi Covered by Copyright?

Sep 29, 2014 | 

George Leef



That issue has come up in the search done by the National Council on Teacher Quality regarding education school courses. Desiring to evaluate such courses, NCTQ asked for course syllabi. One school, the University of Missouri, dug in its heels and refused, even after NCTQ filed a FOIA request in the state's "Sunshine Law." The university's stated justification was that the syllabi are copyrighted property of the professors, so it can't let NCTQ have copies. Does this make any sense?

In this Forbes piece, I argue that it does not. If there is a reason for copyright at all (a very debatable proposition), it is to encourage creativity, not to keep secret work that is done in the regular course of employment.