Friday, October 25, 2013

Intellectual Property Affects K-12 Students Too

My oldest daughter was asked to enter a national contest through her school with some photos she created, sponsored by the National Parent Teacher Organization. Last night they sent home a waiver form that I had to sign. After my daughter read the waiver, she was concerned and asked me to look at it. After looking it over, I was a bit alarmed. The provision that raised red flags for me was:

I grant to PTA an irrevocable, unlimited license to display, copy, sublicense, publish, and create and sell derivative works from my work submitted for the Reflections Program.

OK. I'm not under any delusion to think that my daughter or any other student should be paid or recompensed for submitting to a contest, nor am I contesting that the PTA shouldn't have the right to redistribute or derive the works. What I am contesting is that there isn't a single provision in the waiver that states that they will do so with the condition of proper attribution to the author for the original and any derivative works. Let me go on the record by saying that I don't believe that the PTA would ever act in a malicious way, nor are they trying to profit from students' creative work. In fact, the opposite is quite true - they are encouraging kids to be creative, and I applaud that heartily. Nonetheless, after working with numerous publishers on IP Rights issues, this is a sticky issue. My main point is that even though my daughter is in the K-12 school system and participating in a school function doesn't mean that any creative endeavor she pursues shouldn't be protected.

The way out, in my view, is that PTA should seriously consider that any waiver for this activity be governed by the Creative Commons License. It basically states that the author of the work grants others the rights to use, sell, derive the work, provided that the user must include proper attribution to the author of that work. It gives the PTA broad rights on how it can use these creative works, without the kids (my daughter) giving up all her rights to the work entirely.

For me, this is just another indicator that IP Rights are becoming more and more important, and that we need technology (ODRL, and other platforms) to support it. We've built such technology.