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Academic Publishers Ask The Impossible In GSU Copyright Suit 221

Posted by timothy
from the they'd-settle-for-infinity-minus-one dept.
Nidi62 writes "A Duke University blog covers the possible ramifications of a motion in the copyright case against Georgia State University. Cambrigde, Oxford, and Sage have proposed an injunction that would first enjoin GSU to include all faculty, employees, students. All copying would have to be monitored and limited to 10% of a work or 1000 words, whichever is less. No two classes would be allowed to use the same copied work unless they paid for it, essentially taking fair use out of the classroom. Along with this, courses would be allowed to be made up of only 10% copied material, the other 90% must be either purchased works or copies that have been paid for by permission fees. And, if this isn't enough, the publishers also want access to all computer systems on the campus network, to monitor compliance and copying. 'This proposed order, in short, represents a nightmare, a true dystopia, for higher education....Yet you can be sure that if [these] things happen, all of our campuses would be pressured to adopt the "Georgia State model" in order to avoid litigation.' Disclosure: I am currently a graduate student at Georgia State University."
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Academic Publishers Ask The Impossible In GSU Copyright Suit

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  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:19AM (#36177482) Journal

    Before Slashdot goes into immediate outrage mode (although, by noting this, I might already be too late) over this, please note one very important thing:

    This is a PROPOSED INJUNCTION BY THE PLAINTIFFS .

    In our adversarial judicial system, plaintiffs will try to ask the court for as much relief as they can get away with. The courts will either accept it, accept part of it or laugh it out of court. However, merely a request for this amount of relief has zero effect on the law whatsoever. If I was injured in a minor car accident with you, I'd be well within my rights to ask the court for a billion dollars in compensation and relief. However, this doesn't mean the court will give it to me, nor does it have any real implications beyond the fact that I might come off sounding like a litigious dick.

    • But what about precedent? It can have as much force as law.

      You're right... this could (and should) be laughed out of court, but if they win any part of it then there is a lot of incentive to ask for the same measures at other schools and a very good chance they can win it.

      • I don't know how to really respond to this except to say: "No, it won't have as much force as law (or, realistically, any force whatsoever)."

        Would my request for a billion dollars in the car accident hypothetical also have the same effect as law? Would it also be operative as a legal precedent?

        • by PickyH3D (680158)

          It depends how forcefully it gets laughed out of court, if at all.

          If it's not a very angrily thrown out, then there is definitely a reason to believe that it will simply come up again.

          Sure, you asking for a billion dollars is ridiculous. But if you're not told so, then you're going to ask for it again in your next suit rather than a more appropriate amount.

          In both cases, the plaintiff is well within their rights to request it, even repeatedly, but if the earlier courts did not strongly throw it out previous

    • Doesn't sound like a very good way to run a legal system. Maybe if there was an uninterested third party to decide potential damages in advance, if only to save our collective blood pressure?

    • by Pieroxy (222434)

      For me, this whole story is a HUGE OPPORTUNITY. I mean, grab a few authors, start an editing company and sell your books on a more academic-friendly terms.

      You are fairly sure that you'll get a fair marketshare. They want unreasonable terms? Get your books from publishers that do have friendly terms!!!

    • by bmo (77928)

      No you don't. You have the right to ask to be made whole.

      Asking for 75 trillion dollars like the MAFIAA does from time to time just makes you look like an ass and discredits you in front of the judge and everyone else.

      This is unconscionable and should be laughed out of court by the judge and it should come with an attached letter from the judge saying "next time, don't use crayon to write motions."

      --
      BMO

      • You have the right to ask to be made whole.

        And you have the right to make your own determination of what "made whole" means in your motion for redress.

        Asking for 75 trillion dollars like the MAFIAA does from time to time just makes you look like an ass and discredits you in front of the judge and everyone else.

        Yes, it does. They still have the right to make that motion. Neither the court nor anyone else can get redress from the RIAA/MPAA for making those motion.

        This is unconscionable and should be laughed

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        To us, asking more than the GNP of the world may seem silly. However, to lawyers, and to a judge that may be extremely loyal to people, that insane verdict may get a rubber stamp.

        This is what I fear as well with this case -- like the auto commercial, I fear that the plaintiff in this case will have their motions, "approved, approved, approved" under the guise of "teaching students respect for the law", and with the Supreme Court's decision record, those judgements may even be uphold by them.

        • Only if the lawyers and judges forget what it was like to be students themselves. Some of them will happily do that, but hopefully some still actually care about good quality education. Educational copies are meant to be fair use under copyright law. This whole thing is bullshit.

    • by nosfucious (157958) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:47AM (#36177774)

      I think the easiest way here is for the Vice-Chancellor/President/COO of the Universities to organise a boycott of those publishers.

      Implicit in this is:
      - Establish a new publishing house, for and by Universities
      - Stop all puchases and subscriptions to those publishers
      - A few phone calls to other universities to do the same.

      Universities have enough financial clout to fight this one. Independant research organisations would not be able to afford NOT to change publishers.

      Yes, there is a LOT of short term pain in taking these actions, but I'd say that the long term effects if this were to succeed and the remedy be granted in full, would cause chaos in research for decades.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Establish a new publishing house, for and by Universities

        Did you notice that the OXFORD and CAMBRIDGE publishing houses are involved in this suit? How do you think they got started?

      • by j33px0r (722130)

        Not saying that it couldn't be done but a boycott might be a bit of a problem since these are three of the biggest peer-reviewed journal publishers. Consider the following lists of journals:

        Cambridge [cambridge.org]
        Oxford [oxfordjournals.org]
        Sage [sagepub.com]

        The transition would also be met with an extreme amount of resistance from the professors working towards tenure. If they do not publish due to the boycott then suddenly you have another problem in the system that must be addressed. For doctoral students, they suddenly run the risk of not having acce

    • All you need is one corrupt or stupid judge to fuck things up for everyone.

    • this is 'just' a 'proposed injunction by plaintiffs' somewhere in some state, another is just another thing by some other party in other state, something else is 'just' something else someplace else.

      one needs to be a moron in order not to realize that these kind of 'just this, that' things are on the increase, and even worse ones are up, and these will eventually become the norm at this rate. because, 'somewhere', 'someone' will manage to make 'something' fly, and from that point on it will be repeated e
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Plaintiff demands the Moon, but because it's only a proposal, nobody is outraged?

      No, I'm sorry. Even as a proposal this is utterly ridiculous. I am outraged. Were I working at that university my solution would be simple: screw you, Oxford, Cambridge, Sage and other archaic publishers. I'd cancel all my textbook requests for my classes, use *zero* conventional publisher-copyrighted material (Creative Commons and public domain okay), and hand-draw and photograph my own pictures if I had to when putting to

      • by rmstar (114746)

        No, I'm sorry. Even as a proposal this is utterly ridiculous. I am outraged. Were I working at that university my solution would be simple: screw you, Oxford, Cambridge, Sage and other archaic publishers. I'd cancel all my textbook requests for my classes, use *zero* conventional publisher-copyrighted material (Creative Commons and public domain okay), and hand-draw and photograph my own pictures if I had to when putting together my own class materials.

        It would be way better for everyone if instead of routi

    • by AJH16 (940784)

      I think the bigger reason for outrage is that the publishers have an attitude to ask for things like this that fly in the face of what most of us see as a fair copyright system. Similar to how you said you would come of sounding like a litigious dick in your own example.

    • by TheMCP (121589)

      Even as merely a proposed injunction by plaintiffs, it's absolutely insane and the plaintiffs' lawyer should have his right to practice questioned for even proposing it.

      I used to be an IT director at a small university. If this proposal landed on my lap, I would tell the university lawyers and the university management that I would immediately quit, and advise my entire staff to do the same, if that injunction was issued by the judge because it would involve giving the publishers access to all student recor

  • Right to Read (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:25AM (#36177538)

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

    • I think that the only way forward is via a truly dystopian copyright regime. Face it: it's past the tipping point now. Copyrights are extended retroactively when works owned by powerful corporations are about to expire. The punishments for sharing information are getting more severe.

      To stop making copyright laws worse at this point is like shutting the door after the horse has escaped its slavery. It's too late -- The laws need a major overhaul; Any small reversal or step in the right direction would

    • You know, you could have made that an actual link. It's also getting rather dated by now. And also, by now, if someone here doesn't know about it they must be brain dead. So I don't know which is worse - that you posted a non-link link, that you posted a really old and crufty non-link link, or that you posted a really obvious old and crufty non-link link. Well, in any case, stop it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:25AM (#36177540)
    Please, do some original research rather than relying on copying things that other people have already done. Copying established research is the Chinese way of doing things. If we ever hope to lead in this world again, we need to train our students to be creative and original.
    • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:34AM (#36177644) Journal
      I hate to feed the obvious troll, but just in case anyone fails to see how much is wrong with your statement, it is worth pointing out that virtually all new knowledge builds on older knowledge. That said, education is one of, if not the most important reason that free use exists.
      • by MDillenbeck (1739920) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:29AM (#36178136)
        ...not to mention the obvious stereotyping the user has done, and the fact that any researcher in academia who doesn't have a ton of citations in a research paper would have it scrutinized for plagiarism - and most likely they would find something. There are very few original ideas that do not build on others, and in our Intellectual Property mad society (where ideas = money) we must cite everything all the time. I'm sure I should be citing someone right now, but for the life of me I can say who published this sentiment I feel.
      • And fair use makes a pretty wide berth for academic purposes. If you're doing it to teach, instruct, or learn the rights-holders tend to have an uphill fight on their hands. This is specifically because it is understood by the justice system that a great public good is served by allowing academic institutions as much latitude for sharing information as is reasonably possible. So if there is a legitimate academic interest being served, you suddenly have a lot more shelter than if you are some individual d
  • I guess I have a skewed perspective, being that I have really only experienced science classes (or lower division non-science classes). But in almost all of these, there is very little copied material. Things are taught out of a book (or books) that the students are responsible for acquiring access to. While the students may obtain copies on their own, the professor would never disseminate them.

    Are things different in other fields? Are there areas where classes are taught primarily from copied materials

    • Re:What is copied? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:38AM (#36177684)

      I guess I have a skewed perspective, being that I have really only experienced science classes (or lower division non-science classes). But in almost all of these, there is very little copied material. Things are taught out of a book (or books) that the students are responsible for acquiring access to. While the students may obtain copies on their own, the professor would never disseminate them.

      Are things different in other fields? Are there areas where classes are taught primarily from copied materials? If so, why is this done, instead of just picking a selection of books? Is it that there are no adequate books? If so, then why don't people write them?

      Sorry for all the questions. As I said above, I am pretty ignorant on this topic.

      I'm the submitter, and I'm in the political science graduate program at GSU, so I can only speak for it (and really, only the classes I have taken and anecdotal evidence from others). Often times, our professors would hand out maybe one or 2 chapters of a book in printed form, to keep students from having to pay for the whole book. Other times, they will put them on online course reserves, where you can print out the article or book chapters yourself. Usually this is done in conjunction with using books (that have to be purchased) and articles available for free (to the student) on databases that the University subscribes to. A lot of students will print off these articles as well (which is what I believe is one of the things the publishers are complaining about). Some professors also just provide course packets. Basically, it seems these publishers feel like fair use costs them money, and they want to get rid of it.

      • by petes_PoV (912422) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:55AM (#36177826)

        Often times, our professors would hand out maybe one or 2 chapters of a book in printed form, to keep students from having to pay for the whole book.

        if that is what's considered acceptable practice at GSU, then yes: it sound sound like copyright violations. From my perspective, "fair use" means quoting a soundbite-sized portion - maybe a conclusion or a few sentences that support a proposition. It definitely should NOT cover giving students enough material that they don't have to buy textbooks. I do think the monitoring proposals sound a little extreme, but if large-scale copying is rampant at that university, then something needs to be done to stop it - and to ensure it IS stopped.

        • by Nidi62 (1525137)
          I would hardly consider 1-2 chapters of a 10-14 chapter academic book "excessive" copying. Especially if that book was a limited academic printing and costs between $70-100.
          • by prefect42 (141309) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:55AM (#36178348)

            Sounds pretty excessive to me. This isn't quoting a paragraph, this is taking a substantial portion of the book. If you need your students to have read it, get enough copies for the library. If that's too expensive, don't make them read it. If you're going to base your module round it, make them buy it. Sounds a lot like you've got an underfunded library that they're trying to work around by violating copyright. It's certainly not the behaviour I've seen of lecturers in my field.

          • by maxume (22995)

            Apparently, that is the core of the problem.

        • Often times, our professors would hand out maybe one or 2 chapters of a book in printed form, to keep students from having to pay for the whole book.

          if that is what's considered acceptable practice at GSU, then yes: it sound sound like copyright violations. From my perspective, "fair use" means quoting a soundbite-sized portion - maybe a conclusion or a few sentences that support a proposition. It definitely should NOT cover giving students enough material that they don't have to buy textbooks. I do think the monitoring proposals sound a little extreme, but if large-scale copying is rampant at that university, then something needs to be done to stop it - and to ensure it IS stopped.

          Let's put it this way: if I had to buy all the books of which I read only a single chapter or two for a single Sociology course, I'd be bankrupt by now. Indeed, this single course would cost me more than my entire Engineering degree (I'm not joking). Some books are worth the buy; most aren't, not for a single chapter at least. Libraries have only so many copies, and budget for them is always at a minimum. Let's add to this stew that they earn less than a STEM graduate, and you may have at least some empathy

        • by MDillenbeck (1739920) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:46AM (#36178242)

          I think copying is more a symptom of students burdened with costs - tuition, segregated fees, dorms/living expenses (as many do not attend schools near their homes where they can remain living with their parents), and book fees - all while watching governments across the board de-prioritize educational funding so that school becomes unaffordable unless you are destitute or rich.

          From the student's perspective: What has changed so much in mathematics up through calculus that I need to buy a new revision of the textbook every two years, other than the publishers don't want used book sales (much like the other slashdot article stated that game companies don't like used sales because it is 'worse than piracy from an economic standpoint'). Why is the only way I can get a book in a bundled package with a study guide and online resource that I neither want nor does my professor require? Why do I need to buy a particular book if I already know of a better one, but my professor requires the 10 odd problems assigned out of the book? What am I paying my professor for if most or all the information they are professing is from a book I could have studied outside the classroom?

          Gripes, but I think they are legitimate gripes that lead to a very important question: should education be a for-profit enterprise with all its knowledge locked up into highly restrictive IP laws, or does the knowledge output of academia belong to the society as a whole and as such should be subsidized by that society as a whole?

          • ...that lead to a very important question: should education be a for-profit enterprise with all its knowledge locked up into highly restrictive IP laws, or does the knowledge output of academia belong to the society as a whole and as such should be subsidized by that society as a whole?

            I think you have an answer, but they would call you commie or lefty if you write it. ;)

        • by Xacid (560407)

          Agreed.

          However, this feels very much like the kind of response you'd expect from a business model that relies on gouging prices and forcing students to buy new editions each year. A teacher's goal is to make sure the student learns the material and is prepared for what follows - not worrying if every student is able to afford to shell out an extra thousand or two on school books each year.

          We see the same scenario occur with overpriced software, games, movies, music, etc. Once it exceeds what many people are

        • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:19AM (#36178680) Journal

          Fair use explicitly includes the possibility of multiple copies for classroom use [copyright.gov] in the context of teaching.

          The point of copyright is not making people pay for things, it is public benefit. We tend to forget that, but in Fox Film Corp. v. Doyal, SCOTUS put it well: "The sole interest of the United States and the primary object in conferring the monopoly lie in the general benefits derived by the public from the labors of authors.”

          "Multiple copies for classroom use" is not license for copy shops to duplicate textbooks next to campus, or even course packets. But if as a professor or teaching assistant, I want to photocopy a chapter from a seminal text for my class of 20 students, I am well within my rights.

          Hell, there are some books that aren't even in print anymore... used copies are not only outrageously expensive, there simple aren't enough to go around. Sure, I can place it on two hour reserve at the library... or, I can use the Xerox machine in the manner in which it was intended.

          • by sycorob (180615)
            Thank you! So many people seem to be missing this point. Making copies for educational use is supposed to be allowed under copyright law.
          • Having managed two different college bookstores, I am pretty sure this case is the result of the campus copy shop making copies from several different textbooks and bundling them together in a course packet, which they then sell to the students. Most textbook publishers have a system in place to provide permission for this practice, however, most college professors think the amount the publishers charge is excessive.
            The college textbok process has many inefficiencies in it that result in the high price of
            • I took a course where the text was a collection of readings from different sources. The professor went through the proper publisher channels to get this together. It was about 100 pages printed on office paper, bound by a plastic spiral. When I first saw it, I thought "How much could this cost? $30?" I was absolutely stunned at the register when they rang it up for $120. I couldn't even opt to not buy it, since it was custom and I couldn't buy it second hand on Amazon or Half.com.

              I assume publishers love th

      • Same thing here. I got my degree in Compsci, and started a few courses on Sociology. There's a lot of stuff to read, and If I buy all the books from a single course, I'd end with 20 of them by the end of the year, a no-go. Fortunately, in Argentina, copying at universities is more legitimated, teachers even encourage their students to copy the books they wrote if they can't buy the real thing. Somehow, book publishers still exist and don't try to install a police state. Go figure. :-/
      • by khallow (566160)

        Often times, our professors would hand out maybe one or 2 chapters of a book in printed form, to keep students from having to pay for the whole book. Other times, they will put them on online course reserves, where you can print out the article or book chapters yourself. Usually this is done in conjunction with using books (that have to be purchased) and articles available for free (to the student) on databases that the University subscribes to. A lot of students will print off these articles as well (which is what I believe is one of the things the publishers are complaining about). Some professors also just provide course packets. Basically, it seems these publishers feel like fair use costs them money, and they want to get rid of it.

        This sounds like an abuse of fair use to me. You use their books for gain and don't pay them for it.

      • by mzs (595629)

        Whoa that's actually not good what you and your profs have been doing. I saw a lot of that happening in humanities courses, it bothered me. Rather I just bought books from students that had already taken the courses or checked them out from libraries. I was able to afford it that way. In my case where these proposals would cause trouble there were some graduate courses in cs and math I took where the books were long out of print. For example in two courses we used a book where there were two copies availabl

    • by dachshund (300733)

      Are things different in other fields? Are there areas where classes are taught primarily from copied materials? If so, why is this done, instead of just picking a selection of books? Is it that there are no adequate books? If so, then why don't people write them?

      I teach a graduate-level cryptography course with no assigned textbook --- the reading assignments are almost entirely based on research papers. These are mostly available on line "for free", but this is only because academic publishers haven't agg

      • I teach a graduate-level cryptography course with no assigned textbook --- the reading assignments are almost entirely based on research papers. These are mostly available on line "for free", but this is only because academic publishers haven't aggressively pursued their copyright claims and locked this material down.*

        [...]

        * Incidentally, academic publishers play almost no role in the production or even the typesetting of this material. Even book layout is handled by unpaid volunteers. However, to publish in the top conferences and journals you have to sign your life away. It's ridiculous.

        Most respectable publishers for the CS field have a "self archiving" policy that lets people put their papers on their web site. When they do, all you have to do is give the students the link and tell them to read the paper. No infringement involved.

        • by dachshund (300733)

          Most respectable publishers for the CS field have a "self archiving" policy that lets people put their papers on their web site. When they do, all you have to do is give the students the link and tell them to read the paper. No infringement involved.

          It's totally unclear. I've published a number of papers in conferences and journals and along the way I've signed a bunch of copyright forms. Every one is different. Some of the forms include very strong language about reproduction, some have personal reprodu

      • by ptrourke (529610) *
        What's your syllabus look like? I just finished up my MSCS ...
    • by DikSeaCup (767041)
      Disclaimer: No, I didn't RTFA, but I've worked in an academic Library for a good portion of my Systems Admin career (and for a short time before it).

      I would say that any higher level degree is likely to result in a fair amount of copying. Any seminar or research methods course is going to have the student doing a fair amount of copying of materials from periodicals. Just think of anything requiring a literature review ...

      However, this is the Internet age. A majority now of what most students would
    • by he-sk (103163)

      I remember a horrid computer science lecture where the the professor basically copied the K&R book onto transparencies to teach C. As I had read through the very same book a few months before I skipped all of the classes after the first. I was later told that when it came to teaching Perl, he resorted to copying man pages.

  • "...the publishers also want access to all computer systems on the campus network, to monitor compliance and copying."

    Okay so the publishers are going to hire a small army of people to enforce this monitoring provision? Sounds like that cost will outweigh any losses incurred from anyone copying more than 10% of their material.
    Sounds pretty stupid to me.
    • by Thud457 (234763)
      paging Ted Nelson, Ted Nelson please pick up the yellow courtesy phone in the lobby of failed ideas...
    • by Synn (6288)

      The cost will simply be passed onto the universities.

  • by KurtP (64223) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @08:43AM (#36177744)

    It has amazed me how long the current academic publishing regime has lasted. This dystopian fantasy by the publishers is the logical extension of a broken business model, where the publishers provide essentially zero value yet charge enormous fees. GA Tech should use this moment as a clean break point, and demand that all campus materials be either in the public domain or be available under Creative Commons license. Award tenure based only on publications which are under CC license.

    Universities need to remember that they are the folks that generate *all* the content that publishers want to use against them. They can stop giving it away to these guys any time they like. In this era of global networking, there is essentially no added value in distribution, warehousing, and organizing papers into journals. Publishers need to be reminded of this fact.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      The main reason academic publishing is what it is is that in theory if something is published in a journal, they've gone through some sort of vetting project that says that the article is both useful and credible. That's where the publish-or-die rule for academics comes from: the idea is that if you're publishing stuff, you must be doing useful and credible research.

      And it's worth mentioning that the journals most likely filter out a lot of cranks, quacks, and liars. They also may serve to highlight the wor

      • by prefect42 (141309)

        In the worst cases, you've got a journal getting an academic to review papers for free, charging the submitter to be published, and then charging the reader to get a copy. This gravy train's going to end at some point, as people realise that the publishers aren't really providing them all that much.

        • by rmstar (114746)

          In the worst cases, you've got a journal getting an academic to review papers for free, charging the submitter to be published, and then charging the reader to get a copy.

          What do you mean, "worst cases"?? That is the standard practice!

          • by prefect42 (141309)

            Indeed, but I was deliberately over guarding to avoid accusations of harshness. It's a model that works as long as the universities are flush with cash, and people are willing to turn a blind eye to the pointlessness of the publishers. Given the state of the sector in the UK, I think this is all about to properly come to a head (as opposed to the normal negotiations on fees).

      • by KurtP (64223)

        Like prefect42 notes, the actual reviewing that filters our the cranks and such is *also* done by the academic community, usually at no charge to the publishers.

      • The main reason academic publishing is what it is is that in theory if something is published in a journal, they've gone through some sort of vetting project that says that the article is both useful and credible.

        I believe that work's done by unpaid, volunteer editors.

        I pretty much agree with the OP. Aside from branding, which purely volunteer organizations can establish as well, I don't see any real value to academic journal publishers.

    • THIS. Universities should ban together and create some standard teaching materials that are CC licensed and suitable as a basis for course-work. If "standard texts" can't be used anymore, fine - put 100 smart guys on it from 80 universities and create something fresh and new. For basic subjects there should be plenty out-of-copyright material to use as a basis, if that is helpful.

      Really, this should be happening at all levels of education. Kindergarden up through College. Make it as inexpensive as poss

    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:53AM (#36179080)
      The reason that Universities have not done this yet is that relative to the money they are making off of the students, textbook costs are chump change. The price of textbooks has risen faster than the rate of inflation for at least the last 40 years. One of the few things to rise in price even faster is college tuition.
      • by KurtP (64223)

        Well, I remember the monetary pain of buying textbooks, and I know a lot of kids in college today. To them, the costs of textbooks are anything but chump change.

        • Have you compared the cost of textbooks to the cost of tuition? Did you make that comparison when you were in college?
          According to what I found, the average cost of tuition per year is about $12,000 a year at a state school (that does not include room and board and other fees), while textbooks average about $750 a year.
      • by anyGould (1295481)

        +1 Truth

        The local university here had an uproar a few years back when it was discovered that it was cheaper to order the textbooks from the chain store than it was to buy it from the university bookstore. (And this was paying "special order" pricing from the chain store).

        The student's union (which runs the bookstore) tried to add rules requiring students to use the bookstore (to preserve the income stream), but that was roundly shot down by anyone with an ounce of common sense. I believe they were going bac

        • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @01:30PM (#36181744)
          Actually, I think that was a result of the employees at the local chain store (quite possibly even including the manager) not understanding textbook pricing. The local chain bookstore was probably taking a bath on those textbooks. I worked at several regular retail bookstores before I got into the college bookstore business. Most books sold at a standard retail bookstore have a suggested list price and the publisher sells them to the bookstore at a discount off of that price. This is the price listed in Books-In-Print. Most college textbooks are listed by the publisher at net price, the price the publisher sells them for. This is the price that is listed in Books-In-Print. Most employees of chain bookstores do not know what "net price" is and when someone special orders a book, they charge them the price that is listed in Books-In-Print.
          One of the college bookstores I managed was close to a chain bookstore that did what I just talked about. It was all evening classes, so one day I made an appointment to see the manager of the chain bookstore. I took a long lunch and explained the pricing situation to them, when they realized how much they were losing on every one of those sales they stopped doing it that way and I stopped getting complaints about how much cheaper they were.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:54AM (#36179092) Homepage

      It has amazed me how long the current academic publishing regime has lasted. This dystopian fantasy by the publishers is the logical extension of a broken business model, where the publishers provide essentially zero value yet charge enormous fees. GA Tech should use this moment as a clean break point, and demand that all campus materials be either in the public domain or be available under Creative Commons license. Award tenure based only on publications which are under CC license.

      Spiritually I'm in sympathy with you, but:

      You're assuming that free course materials don't already exist, and that profs need to be coerced by schools into writing them. That's not the case -- see my sig for a few hundred examples.

      You're lumping together textbooks and research. Those are completely different beasts. Your argument that publishers provide "essentially zero value" is fairly valid for research papers, but not really valid for most textbooks. If you look at the free textbooks catalogued at the site linked to in my sig, most of them are clearly not as fancy as commercial textbooks from the big publishers. Some of that fanciness is useless frippery, like colored section headers, but a lot of it really is significant. I've written several CC-licensed physics textbooks, and it's been a huge amount of work to try to make them look semi-professional without a commercial publishing house's resources to help me. In the case of research papers, nearly all academics in my field (physics) make their papers available on arxiv.org. They also publish them in non-free journals, because that's how you get tenure. In other fields, there are free journals such as PLOS.

      Universities need to remember that they are the folks that generate *all* the content that publishers want to use against them. They can stop giving it away to these guys any time they like.

      This is true in the case of research papers, not true in the case of textbooks. Universities don't write textbooks, professors write textbooks, and professors don't give them away for free to commercial publishers.

      In this era of global networking, there is essentially no added value in distribution, warehousing, and organizing papers into journals. Publishers need to be reminded of this fact.

      But this would only apply to research papers. What fraction of the material in course packs in a university bookstore is research papers? I would guess only a small percentage. When it comes to other kinds of academic writing besides research papers, publishers really do contribute a lot more than the things you're talking about.

  • This would inevitably happen when ownership moved into thought space.

    and no - there is no limit, line, format you can define that will prevent such things from happening - 'rights holders' will eventually push their 'rights' onto you, with THEIR interpretations over and over. it will just end up as an 'interpretation battle' in between 'the people' (me, you all of us) and those who jumped on the 'intellectual property/copyright' bandwagon.
    • those who jumped on the 'intellectual property/copyright' bandwagon

      Who should be called what they truly are: modern day slavers. That is simply because an attempt to control the information one can access translates directly into an attempt at control what thoughts one can think. Which directly impacts what actions one can perform. Anyone who tries to restrict the mental capacity - and thus actions - of someone else in order to profit from it is a slaver. The difference between the old and the new is merel

      • by muuh-gnu (894733)

        > Who should be called what they truly are: modern day slavers.

        Remember that in basically all of today's western democracies, you have the same draconian copyright laws. I wouldnt blame the copyright owners that try to squeeze the most out of the "rights" that the public has granted them by the democratic process. So you have only two options, either the public really _does_ want copyright to be excessively enforced and the spread of information an knowledge limited to incentivize information producers t

  • Students seem to pay about 10% extra more then their tuition on books, which are required for the classes. Colleges are actually one the key reason why the publishing companies stay alive. If you push them too hard they just might realize for most of the classes those required books are not required, and that 75% of their student who purchase these books actually crack them open 4 times a semester (unless there are problems to solve in them)

  • The original post does not give enough information to understand the substance of this case. I have a masters degree from GSU so it perked my interest to understand better what this case is about. The case appears to center around a practice by some professors at GSU that use an E-reservation system to make certain papers available to students. When I was a grad student at GSU the professors simply copied the Harvard review documents or other documents and handed them out to us. Apparently this case has
  • In Ray Bradbury's classic Sci-Fi novel, books were outlawed, and forced people to memorize great works of literature, because the only way to carry a book was in your head.

    So vagrants would gather in secluded areas, and "copy" the books by teaching a younger generation each book, verbally.

    This is direction we are headed, not by the government outlawing books, but by corporations and IP holders making the ownership of books so ridden with copyright hassles that our only recourse may be to memorize a book and

    • You do realise that none of those things apply to content that you create and share yourself? Nothing will ever outlaw that.

      • by tekrat (242117)

        That is...until someone copyrights vowels....
        Don't think that's not coming. It is.

        • That is...until someone copyrights vowels....

          That's OK. We can then go back to writing in ancient Hebrew (or any other writing system that doesn't have vowels).

          • by anyGould (1295481)

            That is...until someone copyrights vowels....

            That's OK. We can then go back to writing in ancient Hebrew (or any other writing system that doesn't have vowels).

            Of course, then you'll have to pay consonant licence fees, not to mention paying extra to speak. (Since any word you're using has certainly been used in a film, and thus subject to that copyright as well).

      • by Hallow (2706)

        Heh. Until somebody gets the idea to use the Interstate Commerce Clause. Then creating and sharing yourself without going through a big publisher will be banned because it's a non-commercial activity that "would have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, even if the individual effects are trivial.". (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wickard_v._Filburn [wikipedia.org] )

        I'm actually rather pleasantly surprised that the big software companies haven't tried to use this against open source (at least as far as I know), al

        • I'm not sure what you intended to put forward with that wiki link, but its got nothing to do with this - the Wickard v. Filburn is an open and shut case, wheat production was restricted, the law didn't say the wheat had to be for sale for the restriction to apply, and thus the restriction applies to the farmer in this case. It also makes sense - if the farmer could not produce enough for himself under the restriction, then he would have had to buy more on the open market, thus creating demand, and achievin

  • I thought academia was all about freely sharing knowledge for the betterment of Mankind.

    Why are they even supporting these greedy publishers of textbooks and journals? It's the 21st century people, time to dump the middlemen.
    /hopelessly naieve
  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @09:46AM (#36178238) Homepage

    Music departments have to pay for EVERY copy of music. I'm not saying that's right, fair, or whatever. But why is the music department not allowed to copy, but the biology department can hand out wholesale copies of scientific journals. Not saying I agree or not, but... It's a strong argument for a plaintiff.

    Now, here is what I agree on. How the #&$! are schools going to copy, but then have tough as nails plagiarism policies? Hypocrites much? What kind of message does that send to students? And before you say that plagiarism is about claiming and citing properly, it's really the fact of using something that is not yours. Most colleges I know limit papers to only 10-20% of their content being from an outside source, even if it is properly cited. But, WTF do I know... the last class I took was auditing the Harvard's Ethics/Philosophy course of Michael Sandel's 'Justice: What's The Right Thing To Do?'... And I walked away thinking that academics would have taken an Ethics course at some point too.

    FTA: TLDR

    • "How the #&$! are schools going to copy, but then have tough as nails plagiarism policies?"

      You seem a bit confused here. Plagiarism and copying are two completely different acts, with completely different consequences. The only common atribute to them is probably that both are illegal.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        Plagiarism is not illegal (subject to criminal penalties and jail). It is a form of fraud, which can be subject to institutional penalties (like fired from a job or thrown out of school).

        "Plagiarism is not a crime but is disapproved more on the grounds of moral offence." -- Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], see there for citations.

    • by anyGould (1295481)

      Music departments have to pay for EVERY copy of music.

      While technically true, I've yet to meet a music teacher or prof who handed out the original sheet music - he has an original for each student, but the students were getting photocopies. Why? Because it's too damned expensive to buy replacements.

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @10:10AM (#36178558)
    That lobbyists are trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill with the whole copyright thing. I definitely believe in the right for an author to protect his or her works but it has gone to far. We are creating legislation that is stifling creativity and making people fearful of being sued for creating works of their own. In the end, our society is continuing to contribute to its own demise a la Ancient Rome. Not only has the United States mostly outsourced innovation, we've practically made it illegal through copyright, patent-abuse, and other forms of IP protection. How can the United States become a global leader if we are more concerned about suing for profit? I blame politicians for being greedy and shortsighted. They want their personal wealth and power and be damned what adverse effects result. Most of this huge deal over copyright and IP results from fabricated studies by lobby groups in attempt to "recoup perceived lost profit." Textbook companies charge an arm and a leg over something that costs a mere fraction to produce. The time is ripe for a change and a big change in the way business is done in the US or we will find our children living in third-world, service economy.
  • If I were the University, my counter proposal would be "We'll pay some small amount for past damages, and our employees will no longer buy, use, or copy books from these publishers. We are not in control of or responsible for the behavior of our students, so they will have to be treated individually."

    With the exception of modern literature and law, you can probably find enough material online to teach just about any course at the undergraduate level. At the graduate level (in my experience), the textbook

  • US as a cast-culture.
    If you cannot afford education, then you must wear a black tattoo in the center of your forehead.
    If you can afford Ivy-Education, then you must wear a white tattoo in the center of your forehead.

    The USA is more and more black and white.
    It is no surprise when African-Americans know they earned a white tattoo.
    It is no surprise European-Americans are clueless that they received a black tattoo at birth.

    Separate but equal is a cultural tradition for US.

    Dogma affected never reason effective %

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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