SwapNotes.com’s Adam Steiner – Podcast Interview

I lurk on the LawProf discussion list and was privy to the discussion about student note sharing websites that surrounded SwapNotes.com over the past few days.

I was a bit perturbed by the vehemence of some of the responses and invited Adam Steiner who is a 3L at Cardozo Law School to talk about his company.

In many ways, it’s a familiar Internet entrepreneur story. Students were already sharing their course notes via email and other (somewhat) under-the-radar file repositories and Adam saw a way to make the process more efficient by creating a centralized, Creative Common-based respository of student-contributed notes. He pays the hosting/bandwidth bills via advertising on the website.

Some faculty object to this for copyright reasons. I don’t go into this aspect in the interview because neither I nor Adam are copyright experts. I direct the reader to Professor Michael Madison’s cogent analysis here.

We do discuss the pedagogical issues that are inherent in Adam’s enterprise because I believe this has direct overlap with CALI’s mission and our work on the creation of a Legal Education Commons (I talk about the Legal Education Commons projects here in a video/podcast of a presentation recently delivered at the Harvard Berkman Center).

The conversation is 28 minutes long and you can listen to it by clicking on the following link – adamsteinerswapnotes.mp3.

I have also invited Adam to speak at the Conference for Law School Computing which will be June 18-20, 2007 at UNLV in Las Vegas. I will also be inviting owner/operators of other law student note-sharing websites.

Like the issue of banning laptops in the classroom, I believe there is more here than what is visible on the surface. I think it would be difficult to for faculty to completely suppress all sharing of student notes for copyright infringement reasons. I think it would be hypocritical to suppress sharing for pedagogical reasons. If you are going to issue take-down notices to websites, you should consider closing your law school’s bookstore (or at least telling them to stop selling commercial outlines).

Students of the digital age are very much into RML or Rip, Mix, Learn. I delivered an entire keynote address on this topic at the 2006 CALI Conference. You can watch the video, screencast or listen to the podcast here.

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