Honorable mentions go to New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission for driving out Uber’s online taxi-hailing service and to automobile dealers’ groups in four states for trying to have Tesla dealerships declared illegal. But the grand prize in this week’s unexpectedly heated competition for most creative use of government to stifle innovation has to go to Minnesota.
As the Chronicle notes, with admirable restraint, “It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web.” And keep in mind, Coursera isn't offering degrees—just free classes. Nevertheless, the startup appears to be playing along, posting on its terms of service a special notice to Minnesota users. It reads, in part:
If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.
Hear that, kids? The Internet is no place for learning. You can Facebook and Twitter and play World of Warcraft all you want, but if you want to study Machine Learning, Principles of Macroeconomics, or Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, you’re going to have to take it elsewhere. Maybe you can hit a wifi hotspot in North Dakota on your way back from buying fireworks.