Mental property infringement and information commodification: excesses attributable to the Wirenotes convicted by Elise Degrave (UNamur)

Summary of criminal law, summary of anatomy, explanatory video course statistics: you can find this at Wirenotes, a platform for exchanging notes and videos created for students. There are 50,000 documents, which represents 10 million pageviews per year. It is an educational tool for the founders of this start-up, which has existed since 2016, but also a commercial tool for many teachers. When asked about La Première, Élise Degrave, a professor at UNamur who specializes in digital law, recalls that the exchange of lessons or summaries before the exams took a long time, on paper or on Facebook afterwards: “We have always encouraged him and we continue to encourage him because it is very important that there is solidarity at the university. But the problem with Wirenotes is that it involves money. So specifically, there are students who pay for access to videos related to Courses. They are students And then they are behind the shareholders of Wirenotes, who make money by using the work of students and teachers.Surprisingly, we do not give our consent. contradicts very important values ​​at the university, starting with: mutual assistance must remain free, the fact that access to knowledge and access to teaching aids must also remain free and open. fortiori, we do not make money by stolen labor. “

According to her, this poses a legal danger for students, “because Wirenotes shifts its responsibility to the students. So, to cut a long story short, our courses are protected by so-called intellectual property rules, just as Stromae’s songs are protected by these rules, but these rules are complicated, so students are not well aware that when they publish online without a professor, they are very often illegal. And yet, the Wirenotes certainly know that these rules are misunderstood by students, but they do search for students by almost daily e-mails, or sometimes by phone, and sell them dreams. One of my students showed me an e-mail saying, “Look, if you make us 50 videos for 40 euros a video by June, you’ll have 2,000 euros for the holidays, it’s still great.” So there is definitely an incentive for Wirenotes to cheat students. And yet, Wirenotes, for her part, planned everything because she states in her general terms and conditions that she is in no way responsible for the infringement of intellectual property on her platform. Thus, for example, in the event of a lawsuit, students are liable, including the costs of litigation. However, such a lawsuit could take place soon, as Wirenotes itself has initiated maximum litigation with universities, as they have recently sent a formal notice from a notary. And so the game continues. “

Wirenotes is considered a helper to success. “They present themselves, but from what I see, and I train about 1,000 students a year, I see that it is not a tool to help you succeed, it is rather a tool to help you fail. Because with this system of question synthesis, which is massive and easily accessible in a few clicks, students have the illusion that they can complete the year by downloading such a synthesis that someone from the course will do. And I’ve checked a few hundred of these syntheses. They are often of poor quality. They are difficult to make a good summary and are often full of mistakes. In addition, I see it here again in this test, there are many questions available on this platform. So many questions that students tend to go to study questions rather than course. And when they come to the exam, they see that there are similarities in the questions that are on the Wirenotes, they do not realize that this is not the same question, because we change the questions from year to year and thus answer the questions from previous years. And they won’t pass the exams. I even think that there is a link between the existence and proliferation of this type of platform and the decline in college levels. It is also worrying at the pedagogical level. “

Elise Degrave explains the success of these platforms for students by really looking for them: “They’re even rated. And, surprisingly enough, the good ones tell me they get a lot more emails and partnership proposals than the bad students. So it also means that there are probably good students in one file behind profiling data processing, and bad in the second set ’.

According to her “This means a serious shift towards what I fear will gradually become a Netflix-type education, which means that, at some point, we could reach a system where students pay tuition fees to have access to the full minimum of courses, such as an oral course. And then, if they want more, they will have to pay if they want Power Points, if they want exercise, if they want curriculum, practical work, etc. will have to pay more. So this is really a shift that must be avoided, it is a commodification of knowledge. In addition, you should know that we already have many tools that we are constantly developing. We even have free student training by students. We have videos for students that students do, but we correct and then improve them during the exam. So we, at the university, are right in the middle of new pedagogies that have been evolving for several years. Maybe we should highlight our communication to make it more familiar to the public. “

Wirenotes, CEO, said he was ready to work with universities. “If the creator of Wirenotes agrees to a volunteer, he is welcome in our teams. But we know very well that in this digital society, data is worth its weight in gold, and that is why students represent a mass of thousands of people. I can well imagine that they represent market value for the platform’s shareholders, but I would still like to remind you that our students are not for rent or for sale, and therefore we will never make them the subject of business negotiations. “concludes Elise Degrave.

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