What Limits Did The Teach Act Put On Sharing Copyrighted Material In An Online Learning Environment

The Teach Act limits how the university can be made more open, more transparent and accessible.

What Limits Did The Teach Act Put On Sharing Copyrighted Material In An Online Learning Environment

The judge ruling the Monday patent battle between Google and Digital Reasoning ruled Thursday that no one can share copyrighted materials in the classroom because it would break Digital Reasoning’s software.

Digital Reasoning, an online learning technology company, lost its patent battle against Google when a judge ruled on Thursday that no one can share copyrighted materials in the classroom because it would break the algorithm the company developed.

The lawsuit began in 2016, when Google sued Digital Reasoning over alleged patent infringement in the development of its learning software. Based on that lawsuit, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled to have several patents reviewed by a jury trial, despite Digital Reasoning’s objections.

The judge ultimately determined that the company could not enforce the issue of sharing. The final decision ultimately upheld the validity of both of Digital Reasoning’s patents.

The following is an excerpt from the lawsuit, published in the Washington Post:

“Digital Reasoning developed a powerful predictive content-recommendation engine for teachers, students and parents called The™‐Decision Platform,” said the lawsuit filed by Google. “The™‐Decision Platform makes recommendations for students as they complete or near a subject area in their coursework. Digital Reasoning will set the exact path they take within any given subject area – be it math, literature, astronomy, any other subject,” Google continued. “Digital Reasoning wants to enhance the teaching process by empowering teachers and providing them with the information they need about students,” the lawsuit said. “In exchange, Digital Reasoning seeks to receive a share of the gross revenue generated from the sales of its software and associated services as a result of the usage of The™‐Decision Platform for teaching and learning purposes.”

Patent infringement has been on the rise in general in recent years. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010, there are 47 million patent holders in the U.S. – a dramatic increase since World War II, when only 6.1 million patent holders could claim any kind of profit.

While the government regulates patent trolling – the way companies try to profit from patents for inventions they don’t actually invent – many individuals and organizations have adopted patent protection as a practice. The majority of entrepreneurs rely on a temporary patent license that they must renew every year, but many can be undermined by strategic lawsuits in which a patent holder gains leverage over the company that makes use of their patent. Some new products of such lawsuits include lawsuits against retailers with internet capabilities, or suits against businesses that hire freelancers.

Among the more common targets of patent lawsuits today are for-profit colleges, particularly for-profit MBA programs. With the use of technology like the Cloud, many for-profit schools have found that students now are able to take short courses to earn a real college degree. This allows students to burn out more quickly and is much less of a cost for the school. All of this is great for the student and school, but it harms the students who don’t even apply to or are rejected by the school.

The average student who enrolls in a for-profit school does so for a higher price than at traditional colleges and typically only takes about half of the classes that an actual student in a normal college will.

At Stanford, for example, an undergrad student pays $77,355 per year for their education. A grad student pays nearly double at $135,903 per year. But for-profit MBA students, on average, are expected to take less than half of the classes a normal MBA student will, and their undergraduate tuition is much higher. The typical MBA student spends just two years studying, whereas the typical student for-profit student studies for only two years.

Across the United States, there are many for-profit education programs. Some parents should be aware that over 90 percent of these schools enroll only students from a very narrow pool of potential applicants. The technology offered by most of these programs is still fairly young, and not as developed as it is at traditional universities. The schools have a guaranteed exit ramp, according to a survey cited by University of California, Berkeley Law School Professor Joan Graves:

“By law, for-profit institutions have an automatic right to take back their program after each set of graduates but one (the early-admissions requirement is taken away from them). To keep the program alive, students must stay enrolled and pass California’s standardized tests.”

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