Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 7th Apr 2012 17:52 UTC
Legal Rage-inducing and despicable. As The Chronicle of Higher Education reports, three major textbook publishers, Pearson, Cengage Learning, and Macmillan Higher Education, are suing a small startup company that produces open and free alternative textbooks. This startup, Boundless Learning, builds textbooks using creative commons licensed and otherwise freely available material - and this poses a threat to the three large textbook publishers. So, what do you do when you feel threatened? Well, file a copyright infringement lawsuit, of course.
Thread beginning with comment 513253
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
I'm genuinely concerned....
by SeanParsons on Sun 8th Apr 2012 21:59 UTC
Member since:

I find it concerning that the issue everyone keeps going back to is general order and layout being a possible infringement for textbooks. I have written an instructors manual for LWW and I'm currently under contract to do some work for Cengage. Textbooks on various subjects have a specific order that information should be presented in for them to make sense.

I am just completing an open source pharmacy math book unrelated to any of my work with publishers, and while I've used original wording, I am limited on how specific medications should be dosed, various mathematical principles, and even limitations as to where I can obtain certain charts that are in the public domain. But beyond all that I need to teach simpler fundamental concepts prior to more complex concepts, therefor there are some similarities in the order I present my information for students when compared to other books on the subject.

Where does the line get drawn as far as structure goes. The idea that a book needs to present a concept, give a demonstration of said concept, provide a practice problem and then has a collection of related homework problems seems reasonable to me, but what do these publishers think?

Reply Score: 2

RE: I'm genuinely concerned....
by Lennie on Mon 9th Apr 2012 11:53 in reply to "I'm genuinely concerned...."
Lennie Member since:

Boundless has an interresting concept, I'm not sure how much similair they make their works in comparison to the textbooks they use as a reference.

If they just do: we need a chapter on subject X and it needs to be about 10 pages long. And judging by the reference material, we probably need some images for this subject to explain it better.

If they don't pick images that are to similair and they don't pick Creative Commons texts which quote any other text every few lines then I think those publishers have no grounds to complain about.

I think they wouldn't have a copyright infringement case they can win.

If they go about it, page by page, like so:

We need an image near the top explaining X and 3 paragraphs of text explaining Y. Then it gets a lot more near the gray area. In that case each single book and page would probably need to be examined and compared and the courtcases will take up a lot of time. The publishers could "DDOS-attack" Boundless.

What interrests me also is, does Boundless produce Creative Commons digital texts ?

Judging by their website, I think they do create free material and they don't seem to want to be in the printing business. They deliver it in digital form.

So how do they intent to make money ? You ask them to create a text ? I guess you pay them for text that haven't been created yet ? Possibly for very little money and they mostly piece things together existing texts and get payed by several students at ones to create the same text ?

Or do they intent to create a subscription service where people go online to download texts from their website ?

Reply Parent Score: 2