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Who owns class notes and can they be sold?

A spiral notebook containing notes taken in class.
A spiral notebook containing notes taken in class.
juliejordanscott/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

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What happens when a Cal State student decides to create a website for students to share notes, old homework and study guides? Cal State officials say he is in violation of California’s education code. Ryan Stevens says it’s an issue of student rights and he hopes the ACLU will take up his cause. So are class notes intellectual property? Would you let that stop you from getting the advantage that access to such information can offer?


Ryan Stevens, founder of

James Nguyen, attorney with Wildman Harrold Allen and Dixon LLP and former chair of the intellectual property section of the State Bar of California.