Are graded essays written in college marked for destruction considered published work? What is the legal extent the data from essays can be used?


  • In the US, such essays would be considered educational records and cannot be disclosed to the public without the student's consent.
    – user6726
    May 1, 2019 at 1:38
  • 1
    @user6726 That is usually not true on the college level.
    – Putvi
    May 1, 2019 at 17:13

1 Answer 1


Whether published or unpublished, they are still protected by copyright. (They are probably unpublished for copyright purposes, but in the US this makes little difference for any recently created work (that is anything after 2002). For older work see the Cornell chart.)

They cannot be copied or distributed without permission, unless an exception to copyright, such as fair use or fair dealing applies. And it is hard to see how either would apply to entire essays simply begin placed in a database. Placing text in a database is probably making a copy, and might be distributing it or publishing it, depending on how access to the DB is granted.

Now data from the essays, as opposed to the texts of the essays themselves, are probably facts. Facts are not protected by copyright in any Berne Convention country, including the US, the UK, and the EU.

  • Copyright just because you wrote something is not the same as a legally enforceable filed copyright.
    – Putvi
    May 1, 2019 at 17:11
  • Actually it is. There is no such thing as a "filed copyright." May 1, 2019 at 17:16
  • I am not trying to demean your answer, but that isn't true.
    – Putvi
    May 1, 2019 at 17:17
  • @Putvi To file an infringement suit in US federal court, IF the work was first published in the US, by a US national, the copyright must be registered. That can be done as late as the day before suit is filed. Copyright is fully enforcable prior to registration. If the work was registered prior to the infringement, or withing 3 months of publication, statutory damages and legal fees may be available, otherwise not. None of the registration requirements apply to non-US works or non-US authors, because of Berne. May 1, 2019 at 17:29
  • Yeah and if the works are not registered which most college essays would not be, he wouldn't get sued.
    – Putvi
    May 1, 2019 at 17:31

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