Professor Peter Barry, Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Saginaw State University, writes:
Interesting development at my university, and I thought it might be interesting fodder for Leiter Reports. I'd also be interested in hearing from fellow philosophers with more insight on this issue.
It has apparently come to the attention to my Faculty Association that a student at my University is maintaining a website that houses syllabi from many of my colleagues and myself. The student who maintains the website has not, to my knowledge, asked for or received permission to post or circulate those syllabi from their respective authors and instead directly solicited them on social media. (My current syllabus for my Intro to Western Philosophy syllabus is archived and this is the first I've heard of it.) Our faculty contract includes an article that specifies that course syllabi are intellectual property that belong to the faculty member, and may only be used with the permission of the faculty member. My FA has requested that the syllabus remove course syllabi and any other items of intellectual property for which express permission from the faculty member has not been obtained, and informed the student that further action will be taken if the relevant materials are not removed in a timely manner. The website now appears to be down.
Is there an argument that what this student did falls within a fair use exemption of copyright law? Has this been an issue at other universities?
I would be astonished if "fair use" protected the student appropriation of the syllabi. Readers? Similar incidents? Insight?