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Stephanie Green

Rejected by Disney

Disney Trip by veritasnoctis

My friend Stephanie Green is very creative. During law school, she re-wrote the words to several Disney songs to be about law and law school. She wrote a song about being a 1L that is set to the music of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. Her lyrics are fun and the music is beautiful. We talked about using her lyrics and my voice to record the song.

We knew the first thing we needed was a license from Disney to use its music. Disney is known for monitoring its copyrights and the general rule is “Disney never loses.” (I actually know of one person who fought Disney and won, but that’s an anomaly.) Given that we’re both legal eagles, we have no excuse for not jumping through the proper hoops to secure the rights to the music. If we recorded without their permission and tried to release it, I’m sure Disney would have laid the smack down on us.

I didn’t find Disney on American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which is an organization that licenses music and collects royalties for over 435,000 artists. I searched Disney’s corporate website and sent them a message requesting to purchase a license for the song.

A few weeks later I received a response from Disney. They denied our request for a license. They said their policy is to not allow people to create substitute lyrics for their songs, particularly for people who are not affiliated with Disney.  They said they didn’t want to give us a license because it would lead to others making similar requests. I can understand that they don’t want to set themselves up to get a flood of requests and have to evaluate each request to determine when they’ll grant a license and monitor the licensees to ensure they’re not violating their license.

My favorite part of the letter was when Disney described our request as “wholesome.” I’m not used to seeing that descriptor used with one of my ideas.

I’m bummed that we were rejected by Disney, but I understand where they’re coming from. Hopefully we’ll find a way to make it work in the future.

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Professor Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Confronting Cheating

This week I was inspired by a blog by Panos Ipeirotis, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University.  During the first course he taught after getting tenure, he required all of his students to turn in their papers through a program that analyzed each one for plagiarism.  He did the kind thing and alerted his students to fact that he was using this program.  Despite this warning, 22 of his 108 students plagiarized a significant portion of their first assignment.  He ended up spending dozens of hours dealing with his cheating students, many of whom denied plagiarizing their work and even continued to plagiarize other assignments in the future.  It made the classroom dynamic tense.  His department applauded his efforts to curtail cheating but they decreased his bonus based on his lowered evaluation from his students.  He vowed never to police his students for cheating again.

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Image by bettyx1138 via Flickr

No matter what honor code or cheating detection system a school has in place, there will always be people who successfully cheat the system.   These people disgust me, especially when they get accolades or opportunities that they didn’t earn.  Those who do their own work know that they’ve earned what they get and they value it more.

There seems to be two types of cheaters:

  • People who are lazy and don’t want to do the work if they can download it off the internet or get someone’s paper who did the assignment last semester and
  • People who are scared about not being the best who will do whatever it takes to maintain their grade point average.

This professor should be applauded for what he did.  His students knew going into the semester that they would be busted if they copied something on the internet or a paper that had been turned in through the anti-plagiarism program previously.   I also respect his decision to stop policing his students because of the excessive drama it added to his life and the negative effect on his livelihood.

This problem has forced me to ponder what the right answer to this problem is.  In the real world, people copy from the internet all the time, and it is generally an encouraged practice in efficiency.  However, in the world of research, it’s imperative to cite information sources.  Your work has no credibility without sources.  For example, my classmate, Stephanie Green, wrote a brilliant law journal note on gender identity and the need to have Medicaid pay for sex reassignment surgery.  Her paper was 51 pages long with well over 300 endnotes.  It’s a controversial topic and many will disagree with her conclusion, but there’s no doubt that her arguments hold water.

I think if I were a professor, I’d require my students to give a believable citation for every statement of fact, and I would deduct a point from their final score every time a citation was missing.  I might run their papers through an anti-plagiarism program to make sure they didn’t copy their paper completely from another student.  There is a time and place for directly copying another’s work, but there’s a right and a wrong way to do it.  Students may not like it, but I’m not going to feel bad for students who are sad because they can’t cheat anymore.

Oddly, Panos Ipeirotis’ original blog post has been removed.  It makes me wonder if he took it down because of backlash he was getting from the university.  It doesn’t make sense that someone would put so much thought into writing a blog post to pull it down so quickly.  It put a spotlight on an ongoing problem in higher education that will not be resolved by ignoring it.

UPDATE:  The original blog post may have been removed, but it is available elsewhere on the internet.  It’s worth reading.

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SALK Day 74: Pursuing Passions

Let’s talk about passion.  It’s a powerful feeling.  It drives you to stay up until 3am, working on a project for fun.  It’s that gut feeling that you’re doing something that you were meant to do, and it’s so powerful that you can’t explain why you feel this way.  It just is.

Ignite the moment...

Image by ViaMoi via Flickr

It can take time to figure out what you’re passionate about.  You have to try different things, encounter different people and situations.  I never know when I’ll find something that ignites my passion, but when it happens, I get a burst energy that can overcome the power of sleep deprivation or a bad day.

This past year I’ve had to ask myself what ignites my professional passion.  I love it when I’m working on a legal project, determining a viable answer, and being frustrated that I can’t give legal advice yet.  That’s usually followed by the blaring thought, “Why aren’t I a lawyer yet?!”  When I feel that burst of passionate energy, I’ve tried to slow my brain down enough to identify what was driving that feeling.  It led me to learn that two things make me exceptionally happy – being a helpful reassuring source of knowledge and being a performer.   I am grateful that I have opportunities to be both of these things.

I’m graduating in 60 days, and I don’t have a job lined up yet.  One of my reasons for going to law school was the fact that I didn’t like my job anymore.  I’m being somewhat selective about where I’m applying for jobs because I decided I’m going to pay over $60,000 for a career change that’s going make me miserable.

It’s a joy to watch other people sharing or engaging in their passions.  Today’s sponsor and my friend, Stefi, is such a person who embraces her passions.  It’s not something she consciously thinks about; it’s just what she does.  Sometimes she gets so excited that she literally bounces up and down when she talks.  If you say something that she really likes, she might express her happiness by proposing marriage.  It’s very cute to turn around and see that she’s holding a ring out to me because of something I’ve said.  I love that she risks being seen as weird.  I’m so pleased to see that I’m not the only one who came to law school to find and follow a passion.

Happy Birthday Stefi!

Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsor is Stephanie Green.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

 

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