Who owns it?

Students should own work produced in school

Story by Tyler Snell, print editor-in-chief

The debate over students’ ownership of intellectual property started when a student in Lewisville, Texas used the school’s equipment to take pictures of a sporting event and posted them on his Flickr account. Flower Mound High School ordered Anthony Mazur to take down the photos, and had all photographers and yearbook staff members sign a waiver to their works. A student should have ownership of their intellectual property and should not be forced to sign it away.

Students work tireless hours to produce art projects, research papers and other assignments for school. These students should have a right to own their work. The school cannot attempt to reprimand a student for work produced as a part of their class. This creates a scene too close to the line of Communism and Nazism. When someone’s product is stolen from them, they have a right to be frustrated. Mazur sacrificed his time to attend athletic events and missed time to work on homework in order to complete the yearbook and fulfill the duties of being a photographer. It’s not right for school administration to take credit for that work by having the photographers sign over their creations.

However, some argue that Mazur should not have used the school’s property to sell photos for profit. Flower Mound administration also stated in the case of Maruz that he violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by posting photos of minors on his Flickr website. Although Maruz was found not violating FERPA, questions are raised over what constitutes a student owning their work. If a student uses the school’s art supplies to produce a work, the school should still not claim ownership of it.

Texas High’s policy on intellectual property states that a student shall retain all rights to work created as part of instruction or using District technology resources. This means that photography, yearbook, newspaper, art and English students own their works no matter what equipment is used unlike the tyranny that occurred in Lewisville.