Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bounty no more 

The alumnus of UCLA who we reported last week paying $100 for information on his alma mater's biased professors has withdrawn his offer. The Los Angeles Times reports that several members of his advisory board have resigned since the press coverage of the bounty hunting had begun. The Times' article seems to take great lengths in attacking Andrew Jones (some of it ad hominem), who was successful in raising $24,000 for the project. It was a bad idea, but I doubt even Mr. Jones was prepared for the poopstorm he's experienced this last week.

UPDATE: I hadn't seen Mitch's post when I wrote the paragraph above.

Now, I could hardly care less about the goings-on on the nation's campuses, personally, although since my children are approaching college age, I'm certainly paying attention. Personally, I took a look at the graduate-school paper chase when I was still in college, laughed, and scratched it off my to-do list; I figured life would be more productive running on a Habitrail wheel. Other conservatives see it differently, no doubt.

But I don't see life from the academic's perspective. So someone tell me - why is it a problem to academics if a private group reviews professors' political biases for non-commercial, copyright-law-compliant, critical use?

I commented to Mitch that what UCLAProfs does not appear to be a "non-commercial, copyright-law-compliant, critical use." My lectures are a creative act, paid for by the university. The university may claim rights to that act, or may let me retain rights. The battle over intellectual property on campuses -- particularly for research funded by outside grants -- is replete with stories like this. First, Jones raised money in return for "getting the goods," making the enterprise a form of commerce. Second, he was careful to tell students that they needed to ask permission of the faculty, but it may be that UCLA doesn't give faculty transferable rights. I may be able to give my (paying) student permission to view or even record my lecture for her individual use, but the university may not give me the right to tape it myself and sell it off-campus, and it may not allow students to do likewise. See Steve Bainbridge FMI, because he's a law professor and I'm just an economist. As to other views Mitch would like to see, Bainbridge surveys the Sunday LATimes, which gave a defense of the academy worse than what BAA is doing.