Copyright and Open Textbooks: The Case of Boundless | The Scholarly Kitchen
"Scholarly Kitchen readers will be familiar with Boundless, a company that was founded in 2011 with a very interesting modus operandi: it would take freely-available information from the open Web and arrange it in formats that mirrored the layout and pagination of popular (and usually very expensive) academic course texts. So the idea was that if your professor required you to buy a $200 introductory physics text, a Boundless version of that text would provide the same information (phrased differently, of course, since it came from other sources) illustrated by similar (though not identical) figures and photographs, on the same pages. If your professor assigned you to read chapter 3 of the expensive textbook before the next class period, you could instead read chapter 3 of the free Boundless version and get a different expression of the same information. Since you can’t copyright either an idea or, generally speaking, the order in which ideas are presented, Boundless apparently believed that it was operating comfortably within the law. Textbook publishers—unsurprisingly enough—felt differently, and in 2012 the company was sued by Pearson Education, Cengage Learning, and Macmillan Higher Education. These companies charged that by copying 'the distinctive selection, arrangement, and presentation' of their textbooks, 'along with other original text, imagery, and protected expression of Plaintiffs and their authors,' Boundless was in fact in violation of copyright law ..."