Miss class? A classmate has you covered — for a price.
That’s the idea behind Noteriety, a new startup launched last week that allows students to buy and sell class notes online. Users, who must register with a Penn email address, can anonymously post and request notes and study materials from specific classes. Buyers get exclusive access to the notes for two weeks, then they go into a database that anyone with a $5 per month subscription can use.
Launched last Friday, the site already has over 400 users, and about $300 had been transacted as of Wednesday afternoon, Engineering and Wharton sophomore Adam Elkassas, one of Noteriety’s co-founders, said.
Students who want to buy notes can post a request for a specific class and name a price they’re willing to pay. Students who want to sell notes can offer them and name the price they’d sell for. Potential buyers can see a three-second preview of the notes before deciding to buy, and sellers get the payment transferred to their Venmo account.
“In all of our classes, we noticed that we would work in groups and help collaborate on a lot of assignments,” Elkassas said. “Sometimes we would ask upperclassmen for notes, but it was just a big pain in the butt.”
Elkassas developed the idea of creating a database of class notes for a computer science class last semester. After the class, though, the project went dormant until the summer, when Elkassas teamed up with Engineering and Wharton sophomore Arjun Jain to develop the idea into a marketable product. Jain had the idea to create a marketplace where students could buy and sell notes.
The platform will allow students to better use their study time, the founders said.
“Instead of having 100 people spending time making 100 cheat sheets, we have one person make one and then sell it to everyone else,” Jain said.
The duo has had to wade through legal and academic issues in creating the site, however. Students who post notes on Noteriety are responsible for ensuring that what they upload is not copyrighted.
“We constantly moderate the site for stuff that might violate academic policy or might violate copyright,” Elkassas said. The platform that hosts the notes, Scribd, also automatically detects some copyright infringement.
Still, relying on other people’s work could cause students to run into academic integrity issues — especially if many students use the same study guide, which makes it easier for graders to spot, staff from the Office of Student Conduct said.
“We would tell students to cite their sources no matter what,” OSC Associate Director Vjera Silbert said. “If you’re using someone else’s notes, you should cite them.”
Elkassas and Jain said users are responsible for adhering to the Code of Academic Integrity and any intellectual property laws that may protect professors’ material.
“As long as people aren’t uploading homeworks before they’re due, textbooks, stuff that’s copyrighted, there shouldn’t be any problem,” Elkassas said.
He added that the site was registered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects it from liability for user-posted content. If someone spots a copyright violation, the owner of the copyright can send a takedown notice to the website.
The founders have plans to improve the site as they get more feedback from users. Currently, the only quality assurance system is “liking” and commenting on notes that have been uploaded.
“A lot of people have been asking about a rating system, and that’s something we’ll look at,” Elkassas said.
Noteriety is backed by the PennApps Accelerator Program, an eight-week mentorship and sponsorship program.
Currently, users must be Penn students to sign up, but the founders are looking to expand in the future. After Thanksgiving, the website will expand to Drexel University.
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