OER Textbook Startup Sued By Publishers For Copyright Infringement | Inside Higher Ed

abernard102@gmail.com 2012-08-20


“Boundless Learning can boast a bunch of features that make it sound like an incredibly promising education startup: it's focused on open educational resources. It's rethinking the textbook. It's student-focused. It's got a great set of advisors, including folks from Creative Commons, Connexions, MIT, and O'Reilly Media (disclosure: I also freelance for O'Reilly Media)... But the startup's been hit with a lawsuit from Pearson, Cengage, and Macmillan, accusing it of copyright infringement. While Boundless Learning says that it's working with OER content and the OER community to create a free learning platform, the publishers contend that the startup ‘steals the creative expression of others, willfully and blatantly violating the Plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights in several of their highest profile, signature textbooks.’ No doubt, the startup does position itself a free digital alternative to expensive textbooks, and via its Twitter stream, you can see it's fairly specific about the titles it's telling students they can replace. The lawsuit involves infringement on three titles specifically: Cengage's Principles of Economics, Campbell’sBiology (a Pearson textbook), and Myer's Psychology (published by Macmillan). When I spoke with Boundless co-founder Ariel Diaz, he confirmed that the three textbooks the startup currently offer cover economics, biology, and psychology. But Diaz is adamant that Boundless has done nothing wrong here, and that the publishers are just using litigation in order to protect their ‘antiquated business model.’ He pointed to the ongoing legal battle between Cengage and Kno, another digital textbook, as another example of how the industry, feeling threatened, is ‘attacking innovation.’ The pitch I received yesterday about Boundless felt as much a rant against the publishing industry as it did an explanation of a vision of an OER alternative... Diaz says that the textbooks his startup has created are "aligned to the subject matter" based on the sorts of topics you'd see on the standard syllabus, but was vague, when pressed, about exactly where that content for them comes from... The complaint doesn't charge the startup with copying content per se, but contends it has ‘taken hundreds of topics, sub-topics, and sub-sub-topics that comprise Plaintiffs’ textbooks and copied them into the Boundless texts, even presenting them in the same order, and keying their placement to Plaintiffs’ actual pagination. Defendant has engaged in similar copying or paraphrasing with respect to the substance of hundreds of photographs, illustration, captions, and other original aspects of Plaintiffs’ textbooks.’ Investors certainly seem confident in the company as the startup has recently raised a round of funding, bringing its total investment to $10 million. That does give it a little bit of room to defend itself against the lawsuit. But not much. There's a lot of opportunity for someone to build an OER learning platform -- to curate materials for students, to make that content interactive, modifiable, modular, and social, to help OER textbooks be more than PDFs. Boundless says it wants to demonstrate that it can be the ‘value add’ to the OER community by doing just this. The courts, however, might decide something else entirely.”




08/16/2012, 06:08

From feeds:

Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) » abernard102@gmail.com


oa.biology oa.new oa.business_models oa.publishers oa.licensing oa.comment oa.copyright oa.cc oa.oer oa.students oa.social_media oa.twitter oa.funding oa.litigation oa.connexions oa.textbooks oa.courseware oa.mit oa.psychology oa.cengage oa.economics oa.images oa.macmillan oa.boundless_learning oa.pearson oa.books oa.libre



Date tagged:

08/20/2012, 18:29

Date published:

04/06/2012, 11:58