How to Stop Students from Selling Your Lecture Notes Online.

Every semester I hear from faculty members who are upset that students in their courses are badgering others (via Canvas) to purchase class notes on a third-party site. Usually, they claim that they have University approval.

That’s not true. Selling notes for a third-party site and using Canvas to advertise violates a handful of university policies and at least one area of the Student Conduct Code. 

Here are some possible options for getting students to stop.

  1. Explain that your lecture notes are your intellectual property and that this company is profiting from knowledge they did not create. Help them understand intellectual property theft and ask the student to stop.
  2. Show them the “Acceptable Use Policy” (governing Canvas) that prohibits “using the University’s systems or networks for personal gain; for example, by selling your EID or to university systems or networks, or by performing work for profit with university resources in a manner not authorized by the university.”
  3. Explain that their behavior violates the Student Conduct Code and can result in serious consequences if they do not stop. The CSU Student Conduct Code (Section III, n. 14) prohibits “Unauthorized soliciting or selling in violation of the University Solicitation Policy.” The University’s policy can be found here and, since the student does not have University approval, selling notes violates the policy. You can submit an incident report here.

Many would balk at submitting a report to Student Conduct for this offense, but I warn you against letting it slide. In cases such as these, documentation is our most effective tool. If you don’t let the University know it is happening, it allows Study Soup and others to profit unduly from your hard work and it, as the policy so lucidly puts it, “create[s] a commercial environment that is fundamentally at odds with the University’s public role and mission.”


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