Focus on the Question, Silly; Not the Answer that it is Eliciting … Study Questions Are The Court’s IssueTuesday, November 30th, 2010
Faulkner Press v. Class Notes, N.D. Fla 1:08cv49-SPM/GRJ
A copyright dispute arising from the university sector is always interesting and this one is no exception. Here we have a Dr. Michael Moulton who has assigned his two electronic textbooks on wildlife issue and biodiversity in the new millennium to Faulkner Press.
Faulkner Press has sued Class Notes, (formerly known as ‘Einstein’s Notes’, but that change was the result of a whole different dispute now resolved), which sells note packages to University of Florida students. There were eight counts of copyright infringement and DMCA copyright information management. The court dismissed three and a part of another; and allowed the remainder to go forward.
Specifically of interest are counts one, two and three which relate to the lecture outlines, exams and film study questions. The film study questions track information provided in the films that are shown during class. The questions are designed to demonstrate that the students were paying attention.
Class Notes sought to dismiss as the questions were merely calculated to generate ‘bare facts’ and ‘facts do not owe their origin to an act of authorship.’
The court held that ‘the film study questions complied by Dr. Moulton possess the minimum level of creativity required for copyright protection. Although the fact statements are taken from the various films Dr. Moulton showed in class and his questions track the sequence of the films, Dr. Moulton picked only a few facts from each film to include in his film study questions. There may be nothing innovating or surprising about his selection. His selection was possibly random and made solely to ensure that his students were paying attention to the films. Even so, the selection was original because it was not a mechanical or routine arrangement. Dr. Moulton’s selection was unique to him and unlikely to be duplicated by someone else tasked with compiling film study questions. Some creativity was involved. His selection therefore qualifies for copyright protection.’