Minnesota's open records law, the court ruled, is clear: public institutions must make documents accessible to individuals seeking them -- which includes delivering copies to them. Delivering copies of these documents to us in no way, shape or form deprives the professors who created them of their intellectual property rights. NCTQ is conducting a research study, which means that our use of these syllabi falls under the fair use provision of the copyright law. This is the exactly the same provision that enables all researchers, including teacher educators, to make copies of key documents they need to analyze to make advances in our collective knowledge.
Because this is one of the few cases shedding light on the intersection between the public's right to know and private claims to intellectual property, we think that courts in other states where we have had to take action will find it extremely compelling. We hope that the Minnesota case helps demonstrate that our mission to bring transparency to teacher prep is completely consonant with the understandable desire faculty have to protect the fruits of their labor.