Prof charges for podcasts

Few students have ever paid for a digital download but they're paying plenty for college. Should they be asked to line a professor's pockets for his podcasts?

Does a professor have the right to charge his/her students a fee for downloading lectures posted as podcasts? That's the question that administrators are grappling with at North Carolina State recently since a NC State communications professor began charging for his podcasts, reports Ars Technica.

Robert Schrag, a North Carolina State communications professor was told he must discontinue the practice of charging for his lectures until the matter is resolved. Schrag charges $2.50 per download. Part of the money goes to Shrag, while the rest goes to the download site.

Some students have complained about the fees.

"We're talking about the price of a draft beer," he said. "You go to a concert. Your tuition buys you access to the concert, it doesn't buy you the CD. Of course, if the concert costs $597.88, you might expect the CD to be included," Schrag told the Chronicle of Higher Education

Schrag's entrepreneurial scheme has prompted a debate on how NC State's policy on intellectual property should develop. If lectures are available for free or a minimal price, does that diminish the value of an education? Should the public have access to these lectures when students have paid tuition prices for them? Should professors receive an extra sum for something that perhaps should be a part of their teaching responsibilities? These are some of the questions that NC State and inevitably other institutions will have to wrestle with as intellectual property rights are hashed out in administration offices across the country.