As the new semester approaches, changes to accommodate shifting student requirements are changing how classes are presented and received. The traditional lecture format, at most colleges, is amended to include in-class real time sessions (with Covid related safety enhancements), virtual on-line real time broadcast sessions, and legacy sessions recorded and archived to be accessed by students at their convenience. A host of issues is raised as technology progresses to enhance the student learning experience. Faculty, full time and part time, are facing legal considerations for Intellectual Property (IP) considerations, Name Image Likeness (NIL) compensation, and the implied ramifications of nonconsensual student engagement. Each of these issues needs to be examined, both ethically and legally, before the technological march obliterates personal rights and tramples privacy laws. With each new rung on the ladder of technological advancement, care need be taken.
One proposal for upcoming classes is to install cameras in classrooms. The cameras will broadcast in real time. The broadcast will include the course lecture, professor and student comments, class discussion, cotemporaneous and often-elevated arguments (philosophical and ideological), and all video and audio content. Further discussion may occur and even with a professor’s moderating intervention, exchanges may grow heated and even become personal. All of this activity is captured and archived; yet none of this content has been cleared via informed consent for broadcast, for archiving, and for further review. None of the deeply engaged students, possibly revealing personal information, arguing ideological positions (maybe even playing devil’s advocate), have been counseled and advised as to the legal ramifications of their behavior and comments. In a world in which social postings unearthed from years in the past may resurface to affect and possibly harm individuals, protections of IP and privacy rights have been breached. Things said in the spirit of the moment, quite possibly reconsidered and revised “after-the-fact” in personal reflection, are permanently preserved in perpetuity. Students are left legally unprotected, and the perpetrators of content preservation are held unaccountable for contravening both privacy and IP rights. Professors, acting in the best heuristic interests of student enquiry, can be accused, entirely out of context, for their pedagogical efforts to further student engagement and debate. No IP or NIL consent has been consigned, yet archived content remains the property of the institution for which the professor works and the students attend. IP and NIL rights are appropriated with each session broadcast and archived. Those sessions return no economic consideration to the creator regardless of how often they are viewed. The exploitation of IP and NIL is without parallel in the modern world. Unjust enrichment, at various academic institutions, is realized while faculty and students remain uncompensated.
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