I record lectures in my organic chemistry class, and distribute them online for a nominal fee. Is this really illegal, or is it fine since I paid to go to school? I also use the recordings for my own studying.
New York is a single party consent state. So as long as you are in the lecture your conduct would not be criminal. In terms of violating copyright law I supposed that it could, but it would depend on your school's policy. You should look at your student handbook and talk to your professors. It is possible, maybe even likely that your professor will let you record. By way of a couple of examples of schools which allow students to record:
NYU's dental school allows students to record lectures - see for example, http://www.nyu.edu/dental/news/?news=177
NYU's student handbook states the following with respect to "religious holidays" for law students:
"Students who have to miss a class because of a religious observance can arrange, with
the permission of the instructor, to audiotape the class. It is the student’s responsibility
to make arrangements for taping by asking a classmate to tape the class or request that
the instructor ask for a volunteer. Students may check out audiotape recorders, subject
to availability, from the Media Center in the law library or may use their own recorders."
One of the schools I went to states in it student handbook:
Tape recording shall be permitted for individual private study only at the discretion of the instructor. For any other use, whether by duplication, transcription, publication, sale or transfer of recordings, written approval must be obtained from the instructor for the specific use proposed. Any other use of recordings constitutes academic misconduct and may result in suspension or expulsion.
With the permission of the instructor, students may tape record lectures, provided that the student and instructor sign a Release form available from departmental and faculty offices. A copy of the Release form shall be retained by the instructor and by the department in which the course is offered." (http://www.ucalgary.com/pubs/calendar/current/e-6.html)
Thus, I think the best course of action is to speak to your professor about a) whether you can record; and b) whether you can share your recordings with your classmates. Also consult your course outline as it may state something about recording.
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What you describe violates both civil and criminal laws, could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, and could land you in prison! Stop at once! Do not record lectures without the lecturer's permission, and do not even think about distributing the recordings to others without permission!
Mr. Taylor is right, of course. And, in addition to the potential consequences identified in his response, what you are doing can also get you expelled from your university or college on grounds of academic misconduct.
More info on that eventuality here: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/hard-facts-for-students-re-cheating-plagiarism-and-other-academic-integrity-violations
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
In California what you're doing is expressly forbidden by California Education Code section 66450 [visit the link below]. I don't know if New York has a similar statute but your own New York-licensed intellectual property attorney should check. And, as my colleague notes, your school very likely has a policy in place that forbids what you're doing.
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Intellectual Property Law Attorney
As my colleagues explained, your commercial proposal violates several laws. Consult with your adviser at the school. See for example, NU student handbook:
.... A student is subject to local, state, and
federal statutes....The University shall have jurisdiction over
all cases, other than those arising because
of unsatisfactory academic work, that may
call for discipline of a current or former
student... violation of copyright laws
(including unauthorized downloading
or sharing of copyrighted files); and violation of any other University
policy regarding computers, networks, or electronic communication.
Read your school student hand book.
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Criminal Defense Attorney
I think you crossed the line since you are redistributing the lectures for profit. Even if the lecture theoretically belongs to the university as work for hire, you do not have the university's consent to sell its work product without its agreement. Also, I am certain that you did not inform the professor that you are recording and selling his lectures. The development of an efficient, comprehensive lecture takes a lot of time and talent, and even a particular lecture is honed over time, and updated necessarily. I know that when I lectured, I specifically advised students that recording in any form was prohibited absent my permission because of a disability.
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