University of Hawaii's film school demands all students sign over their creative rights for all their films
Taking a page from the University of Southern California, UH is requiring film students to sign a lengthy agreement assigning copyright in their student works to the university. If students won’t sign, they are kicked out of their film production classes. If they do sign, UH gets exclusive rights to their work—they can’t sell it, rent it, show or display it, copy it or make “derivative” works from it. What is worse, UH won’t even promise to identify the student as the author of the work. As Professor Larry Lessig points out, this theory makes students into little more than artistic sharecroppers.
According to UH, it’s a simple quid pro quo—copyright assignment in exchange for education: “The University is providing you with a valuable opportunity to learn, grow and create during the course. Only a portion of the cost of providing courses is covered by your tuition and fees. Universities commonly use earnings from the licensing or sale of intellectual property to help cover their operating costs.” UH has also said that it will use its rights to protect UH’s reputation—in other words, to make sure students don’t go submitting works to festivals, posting them on YouTube, sending them to prospective employers, and so on, without UH permission. If any university tried to control the release and distribution of a professor’s latest book, such a policy would immediately be recognized for the censorship that it is. Too bad that recognition doesn’t extend to students.