Local firm Class Notes LLC files for Chapter 7
Published: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:05 p.m.
Class Notes LLC has declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and suspended operations of its study guide business under the names Einstein's Notes and How I Got an A, the company said in a news release Wednesday.
The company, which had a store at 1702 W. University Ave. across from the University of Florida, cited copyright lawsuits, increasing resistance from education administrators and professors posting their own study guides online.
Class Notes paid students for their lecture notes and sold them as study guides.
Sarasota-based Faulkner Press — a textbook and study guide publisher — filed two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Gainesville, saying Class Notes violated copyright laws by selling material gathered from the course of UF ecology professor Michael Molton, whom they represent.
Faulkner's Gainesville attorney, Jim Sullivan, said the lawsuits are seeking to establish precedent that would have nationwide implications for other such businesses, such as Smokin' Notes of Gainesville, and the issue of who owns a professor's classroom work.
Class Notes' attorney Ken Hartmann of Miami disagrees, saying the precedent was already established when UF lost a similar lawsuit against A-Plus Notes, a predecessor of Class Notes, in 1996. The jury ruled that the facts presented in class are not original intellectual property. Each copyright suit would have to be decided on its own merits, he said.
Class Notes has been in business since 1998.
"It's the end of an era in Gainesville," Class Notes owner Tom Bean said in a news release. "We are proud of our history of employing hundreds of students and helping thousands of others with their studies. Unfortunately, the burden of Faulkner's lawsuits left us with no choice but to move on."
Bean said Faulkner persisted with its lawsuits even after discontinuing its study guides for the professor's classes and admitting it has not lost money as a result of the study guides.
Sullivan said Class Notes did not stop selling the study guides until they were sued, ignoring three prior cease-and-desist letters, adding that the lawsuit is not about money.
"Our lawsuit was filed to establish the legal precedent that classroom curriculum is protected by copyright," he said. "They continue to infringe on other professors that work for Faulkner Press and others not related to Faulkner."
The two lawsuits, filed over separate incidents of alleged copyright infringement, are on hold because of the bankruptcy. Sullivan said he will ask the bankruptcy court to lift the stays so the lawsuits can proceed.
The issue of who owns classroom materials is also brewing between professors and universities. Universities have typically not claimed ownership, but that's changing with increasing online course offerings, Sullivan said.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.