University balks at ex-student's selling of homework and class notes
Recent graduate Ryan Stevens sought to put his business degree from Cal State Sacramento to use by creating a website where students can buy and sell lecture notes, old homework, study guides and other class materials.
The site, NoteUtopia.com, which was launched in August, is intended to function as an online community, a place to network, discuss courses and rate professors. But Stevens, 22, has run afoul of a little-known provision of California's education code that prohibits students from selling or distributing class notes for commercial purposes.
Now the young entrepreneur is battling the California State University system and claims that students' rights have fallen through the cracks. The case also touches on who controls the intellectual property of notes taken during class.
"All through school we're taught not to plagiarize and to use our own words," said Stevens, who lives in San Francisco. "We don't think that the government should be able to tell students what to do with their own handwritten notes."
-- Carla Rivera
Photo: Ryan Stevens developed the idea for his website in a class on entrepreneurship. (Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee)