MU campuses tweak lecture recording rules

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A new University of Missouri policy that limits the redistribution of recorded lectures makes it clear that students can share such recordings with classmates.

Interim president Steve Owens released the finalized policy on "academic freedom, course discussion and privacy" for the four-campus university system last week. The rule emerged in response to an online video posting of a labor studies lecture at the Kansas City campus. Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart obtained a leaked copy and edited hours of classroom lectures to suggest that the professor and a classroom colleague advocated union violence.

Faculty objections to a draft proposal led to a clarification that students can still make audio and video recordings of lectures unless their professors are opposed. The more recent change further spells out how students can share recordings. It requires students who want to distribute those recordings outside of class to obtain "the express permission" of those on tape. Students and professors who violate the policy could face university disciplinary sanctions.

The policy is intended to ensure that students and professors can have open discussions without worrying that their remarks may invite outside "ridicule, harassment or reprisal from those who do not agree with their views, beliefs or political associations."

"The University of Missouri system has long protected the academic freedom of faculty as being essential to the learning process," Owens wrote in a letter to faculty outlining the changes. "It is also critical for students to have the benefits of free inquiry and discussion, and (I) am taking steps to protect those rights."

"It is vitally important for the University of Missouri to foster and maintain an educational environment that promotes free discussion, inquiry and expression by students, both inside the course and out, without fear that their exercise of such rights will have negative repercussions," the policy states. "It is equally important that students understand the narrow line separating their First Amendment rights and the legal and privacy rights of others so that the students can exercise those rights with responsibility."

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