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E-Reserves Under Fire From Publishers

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-killing-enough-trees dept.

Books 208

RackinFrackin writes "Publishers Weekly has a story about a copyright lawsuit lodged against several faculty members and a librarian at Georgia State University. The case, Cambridge University Press, et al. v. Patton et al., involves e-reserves, a practice of making electronic copies of articles available to students. From the article: 'Rather than make multiple physical copies, faculty now scan or download chapters or articles, create a single copy, and place that copy on a server where students can access it (and in some cases print, download, or share). Since the practice relies on fair use (creating a single digital copy, usually from a resource already paid for, for educational purposes), permission generally isn't sought, and thus permission fees aren't paid, making the price right for students strapped by the high cost of tuition and textbooks, as well as for libraries with budgets stretched thinner every year.'"

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Textbook Publishers (5, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569436)

Sarcastically speaking, I feel so sorry for the publishers losing out. They charge such unnecessarily exhorbitant prices and change maybe a word or two or chapter organization resulting in a new edition to obsolete the old. Maybe it is high time professors fought back against this extortion.

Re:Textbook Publishers (5, Insightful)

p14-lda (517504) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569570)

That is of course ignoring the professors who write the books for their courses and are happy to have new revisions every year to keep that part of their revenue in tact :)

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569662)

In most other industries this would be considered illegal as a clear conflict of interest.

Re:Textbook Publishers (4, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569944)

In most other industries this would be considered illegal as a clear conflict of interest.

Outside of some areas of government work and a handful of tightly-regulated industries, "clear conflicts of interest" aren't illegal, and are, in fact, fairly common. Certain conflicts of interest may, while not illegal in and of themselves, be prohibted by particular contracts (particularly employment contracts), but most aren't even there (for instance, its a pretty clear conflict of interest to work for one company and to own stock in a competitor -- if its voting stock, there is a double conflict of interest -- but except in the case of an executive-level employee, this would rarely be prohibited.)

Re:Textbook Publishers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569962)

Most people don't see American academia for the industry that it is. Most people still incorrectly think of it as something pure, and free from commercial influences.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570036)

You think this is exclusive to America, and you're calling other people naive? Academia is an industry in most other places. Asia is probably more baldly industrial in their approach to academics than America ever has been.

Re:Textbook Publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570628)

Maybe he's aware that academia varies from place to place, and constrained his assertions to only the sector he really knows about?

But what am I thinking? This is /. -- nobody here would ever be careful not to overstate their knowledge. Obviously he meant iff when he said if.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570728)

In most other industries this would be considered illegal as a clear conflict of interest.

Care to cite the relevant statutory or case law to back this up? There is nothing inherently illegal about a conflict of interest. There are plenty of people who function in a number of positions despite conflicts of interest that exist and there is nothing illegal about it at all.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569988)

I doubt that professors make very much money on the books they sell.

The most expensive book I ever purchased was a DSP optimization textbook, written by the prof that taught the course. It was $106. He claimed that he got very little income out of it, and that it was $106 because of the small batch size that was published (and, really, how many people are going to buy a senior/graduate-level DSP optimization textbook?)

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570122)

You got really lucky then. 100 dollars was on the low-end of the book spectrum when I was doing engineering and maths 6-8 years ago. Hell the book for Reals was like 100 pages long and 6 inches by 9 yet cost around 100 dollars. It wasn't uncommon to spend 500-800 a quarter if you bought stuff from the bookstore. And this was all undergrad (although good undergrad is probably the same books as a crappy masters at some schools.)

Re:Textbook Publishers (0, Flamebait)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570380)

You got really lucky then. 100 dollars was on the low-end of the book spectrum when I was doing engineering and maths 6-8 years ago. Hell the book for Reals was like 100 pages long and 6 inches by 9 yet cost around 100 dollars. It wasn't uncommon to spend 500-800 a quarter if you bought stuff from the bookstore. And this was all undergrad (although good undergrad is probably the same books as a crappy masters at some schools.)

You sir must be an idiot. Always buy used undergradute books. $215 for a new one or $50 for a used one on ebay.

The only difference is usually the questions aren't in the right order, And if your unlucky the chapters might be too. This can be tricky when the prof says turn to page blah, because you have to look at the index, But doing this once or twice is easily worth $150!

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Insightful)

rcuhljr (1132713) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570630)

let me help you with the reading. if you bought stuff from the bookstore. Although very few of the books we used in undergrad were actually on resale site, when you go to a sub 2000 attendance college there's a good chance you aren't on the big buy lists. Normally you'd buy books from friends who'd taken the class previously provided you didn't get version owned. Even then the savings wouldn't always be phenomenal since you'd need to split the difference between the price the store payed to buy them back, and the cost of used books at the store.

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Interesting)

uniquegeek (981813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570704)

The whole %0.5 of it, or whatever it is? Unlikely.

My University had a God-like math professor who wrote many texts. He encouraged students to buy the book, photocopy it, and return it. He said he barely got anything for them, and he would rather have the students in his class to have the book and be able to follow along in the lecture. "$150 is just stupid, I have no say in it."

Re:Textbook Publishers (5, Funny)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569618)

Maybe you think they're exorbitant but many of us do not. I'm personally happy to pay $135 for a calculus book that I can turn around and sell for $30 when the semester is over since by then the entire field of mathematics will have been been rewritten. Publishers have to eat too, and beluga caviar with dodo eggs spread on the backs of beautiful hookers by chimp butlers don't come cheap!

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569722)

...beluga caviar with dodo eggs spread on the backs of beautiful hookers by chimp butlers...

I think you're doing it wrong.

Re:Textbook Publishers (4, Funny)

MagicM (85041) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569826)

Hooker caviar with chimp eggs spread on the backs of dodos by beluga butlers?

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569874)

I think you're doing it wrong.

No, Mordok is just enlightened. Dodos and their eggs exist. It's just that the New World Order (Obama, BP, and McDonald's) don't want us to see them.

Same with the beautiful hookers: us commoners are stuck with the cheap ones that turn out to be FBI, CIA, or shemale. It's the NWO's fault!

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570428)

Same with the beautiful hookers: us commoners are stuck with the cheap ones that turn out to be FBI, CIA, or shemale. It's the NWO's fault!

Back in Soviet Russia, many beautiful hookers available for decadent Western tourists. All KGB, but eh, who cares?

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570132)

I'm sure we could fit some blackjack in there somewhere. Maybe the cards would be made out of rhino skin parchment.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570396)

I'm sure we could fit some blackjack in there somewhere. Maybe the cards would be made out of rhino skin parchment.

Hell with Rhino Skin Blackjack and beautiful hookers, Who needs textbooks

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570210)

beluga caviar with dodo eggs spread on the backs of beautiful hookers by chimp butlers don't come cheap!

Clearly you and I have different Beluga Caviar with Dodo eggs spread on the backs of beautiful hookers by chimp butler dealers.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569724)

I just posted this in the last copyright discussion we had (Friday or so).

Yes, that is what's happening. The producer of the material has priced it well above its free-market value, so the piratical market has produced its own copies.

And yes, it's way past time that everyone told the producers of this material that their prices are too high.

Because if the producer's price doesn't come in line with market value, the population is going to be induced to change copyright law and remove the producer's protection.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569892)

I agree with you about the downward pressure the market puts on textbook pricing, but the publishers have written their high profit margin into their business plans and stock prospectus, not to mention their personal mortgages and car loans.

They will lose investors if they fail to meet their projections, so the cost of putting this case through the courts (even if it is without legal merit) is negligible compared to their losses if they cannot continue to charge exorbitant prices for their products.

Considering the business leanings of recent Supreme Court rulings, we 'little people' (as opposed to corporate Big People) should all be damned concerned and start supporting legal groups that will take up the cause to preserve fair use rights to materials.

Re:Textbook Publishers (4, Interesting)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569894)

You are, however, ignoring one problem on the other end. Copyright infringement is so cheap that it's not easy for publishers to compete, even if they were to price it "fairly". The iTunes Music Store is a successful example, but it was selling most of its songs at US$0.99 or so, which is cheap enough to make piracy seem like too much trouble. A textbook, even when reasonably priced, is not likely ever to be priced at a trivial sum.

I think the bigger problem is that each textbook in question is a little monopoly in the class you have to attend, which allows the publisher of that textbook to charge high prices. If courses were required to designate at least two or three textbooks from different publishers as "official", then we might see some price competition. Or, if professors were banned from unnecessarily requiring the newest edition, competition from earlier editions would serve a similar role in the market.

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Informative)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570156)

Cost of summer Microeconomics class at the local juco: $110, including fees.

Cost of new economics textbook for class at juco bookstore: $140.

Something is seriously dislocated when the book costs more than the course.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1, Offtopic)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570254)

> Something is seriously dislocated when the book costs more than the course.

Yes. The government is paying most of your tuition.

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Insightful)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570374)

Yes. The government is paying most of your tuition.

You misspelled taxpayers.

Speaking of which, I paid $5500 in property taxes last years (and a big chunk of that goes to the juco).

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570454)

> Something is seriously dislocated when the book costs more than the course.

Yes. The government is paying most of your tuition.

No the course at the Co.Co is like $110, Pell Grants are like $250 a course.

Going to Community College usually you get a check from the school to cover books and the such. Personally I prefer to spend my Gov cheese on hookers and blow, Just don't tell uncle sam I bought my books used.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570288)

At the school where I teach, I don't choose the edition of the book. When the new edition comes out, the bookstore automagically "upgrades" me to the new version. Of course, this is a proprietary school, so they have a vested interest in this. If it were up to me, I would use a textbook for most subjects for at least five years. Some computer related topics have shorter lifespans, but the basics don't.

Re:Textbook Publishers (1, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570800)

You are, however, ignoring one problem on the other end. Copyright infringement is so cheap that it's not easy for publishers to compete, even if they were to price it "fairly".

So, don't compete then. We don't need textbook publishers anymore.

Re:Textbook Publishers (2, Insightful)

cxbrx (737647) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569814)

From TFA:

"Indeed, to the uninitiated, scholarly publishing is a curious enterprise. Simplified, it works something like this: universities or the government subsidize a professor's research. The professor, who is required to publish frequently for professional advancement, gives his research to a scholarly publisher, usually for little or no money. That publisher, who adds value through editing, peer review, and production, assumes the copyright, packages, and sells the research back to the university at a markup. And those mark-ups have proven significant over time, especially as the digital age has fostered an explosion of new databases and resources."

In my department (Electrical Engineering), new faculty are offered a support package to get started and then the faculty go out and get funding. At least 51% of the funding they find is paid to the University as overhead. It is difficult for faculty who don't have external funding to attract grad students or pay for computers. The funding comes from the Government, but much of it comes from corporations.

In my experience, publishers no longer do any editing. I had an expensive text book on "Quality" and the author misquoted John Kennedy. How could this get by an editor? Authors submit camera ready text to academic publishers.

In my experience, peer review is managed by an unpaid faculty member who distributes material to other unpaid faculty members who distribute the material to unpaid students who do the review and pass the review back up the chain. This is actually very good because it gets students to review the work of others.

The reality is that academic publishing is a dead-end. Journals are in trouble. Conference proceedings and self-publishing of text books are on the rise. Recently, he only thing that I've heard faculty say that publishers provide is that publishers sometimes show up at conferences with a table of books which faculty browse. This seems like a weak basis for a business.

Reading the TFA, it seems like the publishers should just settle. Georgia changed their ways.

Re:Textbook Publishers (3, Funny)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570226)

I had an expensive text book on "Quality" and the author misquoted John Kennedy.

On page 135, it should say, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Instead it reads, "We eat beluga caviar with dodo eggs spread on the backs of beautiful hookers by chimp butlers."

Re:Textbook Publishers (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570084)

"Maybe it is high time professors fought back against this extortion."

This may be the case, if professors weren't often the authors of the textbooks in the first place.

For those keeping score at home... (3, Insightful)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569496)

Does an educational publishing house exist to disseminate information to the people who will use it to improve our society? Or does it merely gobble up the maximum amount of money without regard to the impact on society?

Well, I guess now we know.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

fifedrum (611338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569716)

Universities are in the exact same business as Exxon, BP or Haliburton. Parting you from your money. This includes university libraries and publishing houses.

They compete just as fiercely for business as any corporation. So one university press has no interest in giving a competing university unlimited access to their products for free, this is not a big surprise.

If only there was some regulation in this multi-billion dollar a year industry.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569794)

Erm, Cambridge University Press has one of the largest academic publishing operations in the world and it's detached from Cambridge itself. This has nothing to do with competition between Cambridge and Harvard and everything to do with academics who don't know anything about copyright law.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570470)

The publishing houses are not, as far as I am aware, generally really attached to the universities anymore.

Universities themselves aren't interested in profit, really. They don't want to hemorrhage money, to be sure. They'd rather accrue it, definitely. But without shareholders, there's not much incentive to make obscene profits off of their students. (In fact, the opposite is true: they'd rather keep fees lower and make students happier/open their student base up to the best students rather than the most affluent.) So while I'm sure most of us have been nickel-and-dimed by a university at some point, I doubt any of us have even paid for the full cost of our college education (which frequently runs 2-3 times the full tuition cost).

Publishers are a totally different story, in my experience.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570508)

Universities are in the exact same business as Exxon, BP or Haliburton. Parting you from your money. This includes university libraries and publishing houses.

They compete just as fiercely for business as any corporation. So one university press has no interest in giving a competing university unlimited access to their products for free, this is not a big surprise.

If only there was some regulation in this multi-billion dollar a year industry.

Please, Haliburton doesn't sell any products directly to the people, They would never survive the scrutiny. They Sell Overpriced Parts to Exxon and BP, So they can screw you harder then normal.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569950)

They are taught in business school that their business ethics are based on their need to enhance shareholder value.

They absolutely must preserve profits and will only stop if legal issues or public outcry result in more cost than the profits they gain.

The concept of 'common good' or any concern about the impact on society (as long as it doesn't cost them money) is secondary if it is there at all.

Re:For those keeping score at home... (1)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570504)

Does an educational publishing house exist to disseminate information to the people who will use it to improve our society?

Absolutely [khanacademy.org] . It just doesn't look like a traditional scholarly institution.

FREE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569500)

The sign a lawyer will soon be there to sue you...

The only thing I learned in college... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569502)

...is that textbook publishers are greedy bastards.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569608)

Only thing? I'd ask for my money back.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569628)

He majored in bitching about textbook costs.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569654)

Perhaps if you wrote a textbook yourself you would hold a different opinion. My instinct FWIW is to favor the interests of the creators of artistic or intellectual works rather than consumers even though they may well be "starving" students.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569784)

publishers are not creators

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569848)

So, you don't care about the publishers then? That is a very different group than authors.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569746)

Then you missed the more important lesson:

Most college kids aren't really all that smart.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (2, Interesting)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569870)

You know, when I was in school, my textbooks were always over $100 a piece - business textbooks - and some were less than 200 pages. Now, I'm pretty sure that there isn't much groundbreaking research being done in business where a textbook has to be updated every decade let alone every year. But yet, we had to have the latest edition. My group psychology textbook has shit from the 60s up to the 80s.

Then there's the cost. Why do much? Yet, graze in the computer programming section of any book store and you'll see up to date books that are less than $50.

But let's go back to business. There are Schaum Outline's for just about every topic and they cover every thing that's in a textbook for less than $20. It's the same with the first couple of years of science and engineering, math, english, economics, etc...

Why aren't they used?

In my school career, there were only 2 professors that used their own book and one of them just had us get a Kinko's version of his book at cost.

College costs are getting to the point where an average kid can't afford it. And no, borrowing money to pay for school doesn't count as affording it.Textbooks just add to the burden.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570016)

Very much so, but you COULD avoid their prices if you were willing to deal with a little inconvenience. Namely, buy the older edition of books. If a class required "Fundamentals of XYZ, 8th Edition" I typically hit Half.com looking for the 7th Edition. Tons of used copies of that at $10-20 compared to the $125+ they were asking for the new edition at the book store (which if it was the first year of publishing, wouldn't have used copies AT ALL).

Sure, if the professor pulled out the book for a read-a-long your page numbers wouldn't necessarily match up, but realistically speaking, we virtually never did that. We just had recommended reading assignments. The chapter on the subject in the older edition was generally going to convey they same information - with very slight changes - as the new edition. Save your money.

Then at the end of the semester if you're so inclined, sell your book again through Half.com (because the book store isn't going to take them). Someone else SOMEWHERE is likely doing the same thing next semester, and you can often get buy selling the book for what you paid for it, essentially using the book for a semester for only the price of shipping.

College education, like most things, can be had on the cheap if you trade some time and frustration in place of money. If you live with your parents while attending class, go for used textbooks, attend a public university, and maintain decent grades, you can go and finish nearly or even completely debt free.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570116)

I did that through undergrad. The only time that would come back on me would be when professors would assign problem sets directly from the texts. Then the only thing I could do was to 1) Find a pirated copy of the current version or 2) Make friends with someone who had the current version.

Re:The only thing I learned in college... (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570046)

Wow, you missed the much more imprtant lesson....those who run colleges and universities are greedy bastards.
Ove the last 30 years textbook prices have risen at a rate faster than inflation, over the same time period college tuition has risen faster than textbook prices.

Relevant TED Talk (4, Informative)

slifox (605302) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569532)

I just watched a very good and quite relevant TED talk by Lawrence Lessig, about fair use and the freedoms that are being eroded by excessive copyright legislation

I encourage you to watch it too, even though it's a bit long (20min).

Re-examining the remix
http://www.ted.com/talks/lessig_nyed.html [ted.com]

Re:Relevant TED Talk (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570208)

I'm envisioning one quite & easy solution for GSU's lawsuit, just dump all the journals by the plaintiffs.. and get Emory, Georgia Tech, UGA, etc. to dump them too. Universities are not faceless stupid buyers of music and movies. If you make legitimately holding your IP toxic, they'll dump your ass, and make their students and faculty obtain the IP directly from the authors (or free preprint servers).

IANAL but I think the school will lose (2, Interesting)

Microsift (223381) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569546)

They are basically acting like a publisher. Compare to Basic Books v. Kinko's

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569700)

They are basically acting like a publisher. Compare to Basic Books v. Kinko's

As the article points out, the fact that this is George State University adds an additional wrinkle. The university is a state institution, and the constitutional doctrine of state sovereign immunity protects states from prosecution under federal law; copyright is a federal statute.

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569896)

[...] the constitutional doctrine of state sovereign immunity protects states from prosecution under federal law [...]

I never thought the day would come when I'd be happy to read those words. What with the government using sovereign immunity, among other things, to protect prosecutors who fabricate evidence and use it at trial [scotuswiki.com] , I'd forgotten that the doctrine can be used for good as well.

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570154)

Georgia State University is a university which receives support from the State of Georgia, but which itself is not 'the State of Georgia'. Universities are not sovereign states.

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570346)

It doesn't just "receive support from the State of Georgia", but is literally part of the State of Georgia's government. Its employees are State of Georgia employees, its land and buildings are owned by the State, and its policies are overseen by the Georgia Board of Regents, a body of the state government whose members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (1)

sed quid in infernos (1167989) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570326)

But it does not prevent federal courts from enjoining state officials from violating the law, nor does it prevent suits from proceeding against individual state officials in their own person. So the individuals who did the actual copying could be found liable, and the officials could be enjoined from continuing to violate copyright law.

Re:IANAL but I think the school will lose (3, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569802)

Look up fair use. There's a lot of factors that go in to if use is fair, but most of them are such that educational use is often fair use. You probably have the widest latitude of all when it comes to using material for educational purposes.

Also the e-reserves system is one well founded in history. Schools would allow a professor to place a book on reserve for students. The students could then go and check out the book and copy the relevant section for the class. The whole point of the reserve system was that the book was held at the library for use for copying for a class, people could not check it out generally and take it home.

This has gone on for a very long time and been seen as fair. All e-reserves do is update this to the 21st century. The relevant material is digitized and students can access it if they are in the appropriate class.

Publishers need to stop being so fucking greedy when it comes to schools.

you are wrong (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570460)

Yes, the school may have violated the journals copyright, but an academic journal does not actually do any work, none, zilch, zero. All the work is done by authors, editors and referees who are paid by universities. And therefore the publisher will ultimately lose.

All universities should immediately cancel all journals subscripts to Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications. Academics and students will easily obtain all the articles from either free preprint servers or by writing the article author, while the publisher has now made legit possession toxic.

All academics should apply pressure on their libraries to cancel subscriptions to these journals.

Re:you are wrong (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570490)

Btw, if you're a university student, you should write your professors a simple email explaining the situation, and recommend that they put pressure on the library to cancel the journals printed by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications.

Cant they just pull a AT&T? (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569550)

Wouldn't it be better to have a book publisher sign a exclusive 2 year agreement to a specific university where only that school students can buy their books for 20% of the non subsidized price. Then add new features to the book like making it better than last years book by changing the title and making it a little smaller?

50 years from now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569552)

Each textbook will cost about $500,000 per copy. There will be a tacit agreement between professors/students of that copy to each chip in a little, buy one physical textbook, and within 2 hours every single student will have a copy if they bother to by downloading all-textbooks-ever.torrent.

Fair Use Fully Justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32569638)

I just graduated from a 4 year University, so I know what these reserves are like. They contain scanned, electronic copies of one or a few chapters of a book, which is usually required reading for some class you're in. I will attempt to demonstrate that they are covered by fair use.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

Definitely educational.

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

Usually books, already owned by the University's library. They could rent out the book to each person, one at a time, or just scan it and give it to everyone at the same time.

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

Usually one chapter. If it's the entire book, the instructor makes you buy a hard copy.

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

So, how many people would have bought the book, but didn't because it was available on reserve? Only the students have access, and if they were going to buy it already, then having access to a few chapters of it won't change their mind.

America putting students first... right... (1)

LivinInSanDiego (1814534) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569644)

As if my education was not expensive enough, now they throw this out there. America is already rediculously expensive it seems for education, something like this will only make it more so. To make matters worse, I imagine we will be the only ones who pay attention and pay such fees if they come about - thus giving an even greater advantage to those recieving an education elsewhere.

Other Higher Ed Options? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570114)

America is already rediculously expensive it seems for education, something like this will only make it more so.

I wonder if this will drive more American students to other countries for higher ed (Canada, Europe...)?

Re:America putting students first... right... (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570642)

As if my education was not expensive enough, now they throw this out there. America is already rediculously expensive it seems for education, something like this will only make it more so..

Too bad this "education" didn't include spelling.

Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569678)

Wouldn't it be great if the schools paid teachers to write their own book about the subject they Teach? The school could then reproduce the book to any student that attends the class, charge a extra fee off the top for tuition. Great schools with good teaching materials would come up to the top. Part of the Lit department could be in charge of producing the book. Make a school like a business for itself feeding off the uneducated souls of its students.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (5, Insightful)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569770)

The professors write the book ,send it to a publisher for editing and what not, and the book is sold back to the SAME SCHOOL, and others. Thats how it works right now. As far as Im concerned, these professors should forward their books to the lit department, have some undergrads edit, and pretty it up. then post it on the schools server. Then schools could share their librarys with other schools, so every school will have available on its server every fucking book they need. Problem solved.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570002)

The professors write the book ,send it to a publisher for editing and what not, and the book is sold back to the SAME SCHOOL, and others. Thats how it works right now. As far as Im concerned, these professors should forward their books to the lit department, have some undergrads edit, and pretty it up. then post it on the schools server. Then schools could share their librarys with other schools, so every school will have available on its server every fucking book they need. Problem solved.

And furthermore, I'm sure the college could get someone like PediaPress [pediapress.com] to print out a paperback copy of the book for a student if they so desired. It could even be in crazy-small 6pt font to decrease the weight.

It would be a cheaper (8 dollars per 100 pages from them), more convenient, and 'free-er' alternative to what we have right now.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570128)

That would be a great solution, because then the schools could increase their tuition by the amount students currently pay for books and get that much more money. The best part about this is that nobody would notice the slight increase in the already large amount the schools were going to raise tuition anyway.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570334)

Hmm your soooo right it is sooo much more expensive to have it all done in house, with no actual printing, that tuition will skyrocket. Lets see how much does someone get paid to publish a book... From TFA..

Simplified, it works something like this: universities or the government subsidize a professor's research. The professor, who is required to publish frequently for professional advancement, gives his research to a scholarly publisher, usually for little or no money.

The professors already don't make much for the book, the grad students.. heh they are slaves anyways. The cost of moving the document onto a server for the students... Heh they already have e-reserves.

I see both the SCHOOLS and the STUDENTS saving money here.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570588)

Hmm your soooo right it is sooo much more expensive to have it all done in house, with no actual printing, that tuition will skyrocket.

I was not saying that they would raise tuition because of the increased cost, I was saying that if the students didn't have to spend the money on textbooks, colleges and universities would raise their tuition and other fees to absorb the extra money the students now have available. I haven't checked it in a couple of years, but the last time I checked, college tuition costs have risen faster than textbook prices, which have risen faster than inflation.
The way it works is this. Each student has a certain amount of money that they can spend on a semester of college (between parent's income, government aid, scholarships, and student loans). A certain amount of that goes to cover the costs of textbooks, the rest of it goes to the college or university in tuition and other fees. If the cost of textbooks goes down, the amount the university can charge in tuition and other fees goes up, so tuition and fees will go up to absorb this extra money.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (2, Insightful)

netruner (588721) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570340)

Now how will all of the no-value-added middle men make their livings if this type of philosophy takes hold?

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570092)

Wouldn't it be great if the schools paid teachers to write their own book about the subject they Teach?

Because then you have to pay the faculty while they sit in their offices and write books (instead of teaching or doing research.) The money for that has to come from somewhere; namely, tuition (since grants won't cover it.)

So instead of paying for overpriced books, the students pay even higher tuition.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570238)

That's a bad idea. You want students at one university to learn the same thing as students at another university. And just because the material covered is the same, you'd like to make sure that they learned it pretty much the same way. There is already a large amount of variance in what is taught by different people. But there are also a large number of text books out there that are accepted as the standard for that topic. Every major university uses those books, and it insures that if you'd be able to attend one school for your undergrad, then another for your masters, and finally another for your doctorate.

Re:Why do schools even buy their own books? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570778)

That's a bad idea. You want students at one university to learn the same thing as students at another university. And just because the material covered is the same, you'd like to make sure that they learned it pretty much the same way.

I disagree, in general. I think diversity of thought process and education is undervalued. Citizens/employees are not commodity goods*

*OK, maybe uneducated workers can be considered somewhat like a commodity. But educated workers are a different story.

So shall we limit the dissemination of information (1, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569772)

I think it's up to those of us who do "Information Technology" all day every day to educate people on why this is bad.

Ultimately they and their ilk would stop all uncontrolled dissemination of information for their own private profits.  That would be bad for all of humanity, and must be successfully opposed.

It probably will cost some people their jobs in the process.  I understand that and I still say it should be done anyway.

I'm pretty sure the future which includes greater human education and knowledge will provide more and better jobs, though.

Re:So shall we limit the dissemination of informat (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570232)

I'd agree with you, but your forced use of fixed-width font distracted me enough to want to complain about that instead. :P

Please stop assuming fair use (1)

deblau (68023) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569816)

Since the practice relies on fair use (creating a single digital copy, usually from a resource already paid for, for educational purposes)

Please stop acting as if there's a hard and fast rule for what is and what is not fair use. There isn't, and pretending otherwise is deliberate ignorance. Fair use is determined by putting all the facts in a pot and stirring them around, and the facts are different every single time. Here's the actual law: link [cornell.edu] , which says you can't know whether the use is fair until you stir at least four mandatory ingredients into the stew.

Creating a single copy of a work is not fair use by itself. Making a back-up is not a fair use by itself. Educational use is not fair use by itself (why do you think schools still buy textbooks?). Even the combination of these doesn't take into account potential market impact.

For the love of all that's holy, please please please put this misconception to bed.

Re:Please stop assuming fair use (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569972)

In this case, the subsequent section [cornell.edu] adds another potential defense. It explicitly authorizes libraries to make single copies of copyrighted works and give them to users who request them, subject to some requirements like plastering prominent copyright notices on the copies. I've used it before to get a copy of a journal article through inter-library loan: my library didn't subscribe to the journal I needed, but through ILL, they asked a library who did to scan it, and then forwarded me the PDF.

The practice in this case arguably falls afoul of that by fulfilling the request for multiple students at the same time, though. One wonders if it'd be okay if each of the students separately asked for a PDF of the relevant articles, and the library fulfilled each request individually.

Re:Please stop assuming fair use (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570456)

Posting one copy that everyone can download is NOT fair use. The library has a physical book: fair use is that one person at a time can hold that book, and can write notes about that book into a notebook; then the physical book can be passed along to someone else for their turn. When photocopies became simple (yes, I'm old enough to remember when they weren't), making a photocopy and pasting it into your book became considered fair use just like hand-writing your notes. None of this is the same as having the library photocopy enough copies for the whole class - that battle was already fought years ago. Putting the PDF where everyone in the school can download it is comparable.

If you think everything should be free, ask yourself: "Why should anyone pay *me*?" (Assuming most readers here are knowledge workers of some kind.) You use your brainpower to get paid because you need to pay for food. Why insist that someone else give away their brainpower? It would certainly be nice, but you can't blame them for wanting to eat too.

This was NOT released as Open Source or GPL. Publishers exist to publish physical copies. They want to protect their physical copies from being copied; the sheer difficulty of replicating used to be enough of an energy barrier. Just because technology has made copying cheaper, the rules didn't change. If the professor wanted to write up his own notes and disseminate them, feeling that the university already pays him enough, that's fine; if people can find some existing available source for the same information, that's fine; but if someone else was paid to write that article with new information, or a particular idea, then the publisher paid that someone else expecting to recoup their investment by selling the physical copies - and they want to eat too.

Re:Please stop assuming fair use (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570670)

Where does it say that a library can make single copies and give them to users who request them? It specifically says a library can make 'no more than one copy' - it says nothing about making copies for any user. Furthermore, section (g) says that the protection is only 'for isolated and unrelated' reproduction, and specifically excludes 'systematic reproduction or distribution'.

Re:Please stop assuming fair use (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570784)

I was looking at subsection (d): "...a copy, made from the collection of a library or archives where the user makes his or her request or from that of another library or archives, of no more than one article or other contribution to a copyrighted collection or periodical issue...".

Wonder why there's that science gap? (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569820)

(barbie voice): Math is expensive!

This hits close to home (2, Insightful)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569840)

I did RTA, and I didn't see the name of the E-Reserves product Georgia is using, but I am betting it is the same one they sort-of open sourced a few years ago, and that I am currently maintaining at my own institution. I am in the middle of building a new E-reserves system because the one that Georgia State created is in a bit of a need of a rewrite in order to work on newer versions of PHP.

This is a big deal. Institutions often pay incredible amounts of money to provide library catalog services, and reserves are a huge part of any course system. Instructors often bring stuff into our library, from their own collection -- a magazine article, a couple of photos, whatever -- and now, more than ever, they exist only in electronic form (videos, PDF files, etc). You have to put these things some place.

This stuff needs to be worked out. I see a few people already posting about how expensive college is... the last thing I'd want to see is the costs of license fees for copyright being passed on to students. That's seriously suck.

As a GSU grad student... (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569864)

Screw Cambridge University Press. I just lost my assitantship(read: tuition waiver) because we don't have enough funding in my department. If we had to pay even to read every single copy of an article, most of the graduate departments would be gone. In any case, how is this any different from making copies out of a physical book in a library? If they are going to go after us, they should be going after every single library that holds their books and also owns a copier, since apparently that is costing them fees as well. Where they say "Rather than make multiple physical copies, faculty now scan or download chapters or articles", they really mean "Rather than BUY multiple physical copies, faculty now scan or download chapters or articles". Oh, yeah, and remind me never to publish with Cambridge University Press.

Re:As a GSU grad student... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570546)

"In any case, how is this any different from making copies out of a physical book in a library? If they are going to go after us, they should be going after every single library that holds their books and also owns a copier, since apparently that is costing them fees as well."

They should be, but they already did that years ago. In most (all?) cases university libraries with photocopiers already have agreements with some kind of copyright pool that they pay into for the rights to allow students to make copies of journal articles and other materials. In other words, the publishers are already getting paid for the original material on the shelves and for any paper copies made. Apparently they want more, or they want the same sort of deal for electronic copies. In principle, I see nothing wrong with that. If they hold copyright on the material then they should have some ability to control it, and a deal to buy a journal does not necessarily grant license to make as many copies as people would like without paying something additional. In practice, however, the prices charged for many journals are so ridiculous that I don't have a great deal of sympathy, and it's not as if students are making paper copies in order to distribute them and thereby cut into the publishers' revenue. In general students are making paper copies so they don't have to read the journal in the library -- they can take the copy with them. It's a convenience factor that still means the library has to buy the journal, so the publishers' revenue stream should be fine. All the publishers are doing is trying to gouge for more money.

In the digital age some of these issues become more murky, because it is so much easier to copy and share a digital journal article, but libraries still have to pay for subscriptions to those journals, and why should it matter if a bunch of articles are collected together in one spot for students at the relevant university to download directly as long as the library is subscribed to that journal or publication? Alternatively, you tell the students to go get the article themselves and they download it directly from the publisher's site 100 times. What's the big deal?

I know publishers want to protect their revenue stream, but if they are too fussy about how they do it then profs are going to move in increasing numbers to the obvious solution: screw publishers. Profs will make and distribute the stuff themselves at the university, and then publishers will all wish they had been more accommodating.

Re:As a GSU grad student... (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570620)

If we had to pay even to read every single copy of an article, ... they should be going after every single library that holds their books and also owns a copier

No, you don't have to pay individually if you pass around the magazine and share the one copy that the library paid for. That's why schools have libraries, so that people could share books. But if someone's going to make copies, it should be the copyright holder.

Yes, there WERE lawsuits about libraries introducing copiers, for precisely this reason. Printing used to be complicated and expensive in small quantity; early photocopies were poor quality and expensive, or very expensive for high quality. This copying problem (from the publisher's perspective) just didn't exist. The advent of xerography changed the balance of power by changing the price ratio.

Re:As a GSU grad student... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570788)

Why does your department need funding? After all, you expect authors/publishers to give their work away for free - shouldn't you and your department lead by example and do the same?

This is exactly what the constitution intends. (1, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569888)

Amendment 28 : The right of a corporation to earn the same or more profits as last year shall not be infringed by congress or reality.

Hmm (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 4 years ago | (#32569908)

Well, it's a quandary. Publishers want to sell books. Academics and students want to use those books for free, and with a volume of use that would make ever purchasing the book unnecessary for all but a handful of them. I'm sure this will seem a reasonable position to some folks here, but I think it's clear which side is asking for the moon. Incidentally, if you RTFA it's clear Georgia State was operating well beyond what might be considered "fair use" (which Georgia State more or less admitted by tightening its policies after the lawsuit was filed).

Re:Hmm (1)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570178)

Your absolutly right, we need to get those students to give us more money.. I mean can you believe that some of them graduate with no student loans... ohh lordy lord.

Oh, crap! (4, Funny)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570204)

"E-Reserves" in dangr? Must I now cut back on utilization of a particularly common glyph in Anglican writing? If too much unthoughtful inclusion of this glyph occurs, will total lack of futur supply occur? How can communication work with such a handicap? Can you and I sumday go back to normal utilization of this glyph without killing its supply?

Simple solution (5, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32570262)

Open source all course materials and stop fucking around with for-profit publishers.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570638)

yes, absolutely.

one of my professors put texts (which he wrote) online:
http://www.east-asian-history.net/textbooks/ [east-asian-history.net]

as far as i'm aware, he's only written one survey text on the ryukyu islands. the rest of his work (although decidedly HTML 3.0) is up and available for anyone to read online.

now, these texts were written specifically for his courses, but they're still written in a logical fashion, with visual (and sometimes audible) aids.

What the article meant to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32570410)

...permission fees aren't paid, making the price right for students strapped by the high cost of tuition and textbooks...

What the author meant to say was:

  "permission fees aren't paid, allowing the parents of students to spend a higher portion of educational fees on tuition and textbooks."

ie: this isn't going to do anything for students bottom line/costs.... as any student would believe that a institutional cost savings would be passed directly to them... as if.

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