Professor’s Plan to Charge for Lecture Audio Downloads Blocked

Sep 19th, 2006 | By | Category: General

SchragNorth Carolina State University communication professor Robert Schrag, right, has been asked by his dean and department head to stop selling downloadable versions of his lectures until further notice.

Schrag had made his lectures available to students and the general public online for a fee of $2.50. The University questioned whether this practice was ethical, referring to the inconsistencies in opinion concerning intellectual property and decided to ask Schrag to suspend the Web site until copyright-issue clarifications could be made.

As a result, Schrag chose to delay his usual lecture in class Thursday in an effort to get his students points of view on the situation.

“No one is sure who owns intellectual property [when it is spoken] and how it should be distributed,” Schrag said.

Many universities have been making lectures available as audio podcasts, but no standard approach has developed yet.

John Elias, a sophomore in communication, said he felt his professor was justified in his actions.

“Hes not forcing anyone to use or buy the lectures. As far as I see it, its just another educational tool thats available for anyone,” Elias said. “If he was using too much information from the textbook and not his own ideas then it would be a different story. As long as its his ideas and his materials, its fine.”

Some students chose to address the idea of allowing the students to record the lectures for themselves during class. However, the decision was unclear as to whether recording in class was illegal according to the University.

“I believe it’s illegal to record [a lecture as a student],” Schrag said. “It’s like how you can’t record a concert. However, I have come to understand in the last few days that nothing is for sure, illegal or legal right now.”

Schrag complied with the University’s request to remove the Web site because he said he understood his proposal to sell the information is a new and evolving idea.

“I’m not sorry I made the choice and I hope I can get back to giving the information,” Schrag said. “However, I don’t blame the University for being very cautious.”

Source: Technician Online via Ars Technica

No Responses to “Professor’s Plan to Charge for Lecture Audio Downloads Blocked”

  1. Hi,

    This article is very timely as I have just published an article in a column called “Podcast Predictions”.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    The controversy over podcast lectures as they relate to student attendance (or lack thereof) will end in favor of the adoption of podcasting. The numerous benefits of “time shifting” the lectures if necessary and the lack of significant costs for file storage will outweigh the outcry of potential student truancy.

    A huge debate on the ownership rights of spoken word podcast lectures is imminent. Initially the debate will center on the devaluation of educational experience perceived by paying students. The larger issue of profits generated from resale of podcasts into secondary markets within and outside the world of academia will become one of the hottest podcast topics in 2007.

    A movement by State and Local government to monetize college lectures and leverage the profits to offset costs paid by the incoming students will gain public support and political traction. Advocates for resale of podcasts will call for portions of funds to be used for additional grants and scholarships to contain the skyrocketing costs of tuition.

    New business models will emerge to leverage the new academic content. Corporate subscriptions for relevant podcast lectures would be a potentially huge market. Paid access to certain categories of college lectures would make fiscal sense for companies interested in ensuring that their employees stay on the cutting edge.

    Big media will be impacted by the addition of yet another digital content category that will slowly siphon more eyeballs away from traditional entertainment and further fragment the already splintered and chaotic media landscape.

    You can read the whole article at


    Erik Blakkestad

Leave a Reply