ONTD Political

Anti-Piracy Patent Aims to Stop Students Sharing Textbooks

1:08 pm - 06/11/2012
Professor's patent strangles textbook sharing on and offline

The realm of academic file-sharing is notorious — is it legal to share these notes, and this is alright because we need it for the course but it’s no longer in print, right? Students sharing textbooks, presentations and notes facilitated by Facebook’s new Group feature came to mind — but now, going beyond the realms of copyright infringement, it may go so far as to lower your grades.

A new patent granted this week aims to stop students from sharing textbooks, both off and online. The patent awarded to economics professor Joseph Henry Vogel hopes to embed the publishing world even further into academia. Under his proposal, students can only participate in courses when they buy an online access code which allows them to use the course book. No access code means a lower grade, all in the best interests of science.

For centuries, students have shared textbooks with each other, but a new patent aims to stop this “infringing” habit.

The patent in question was granted to Professor of Economics Joseph Henry Vogel. He believes that piracy, lending and reselling of books is a threat to the publishing industry.

“Professors are increasingly turning a blind eye when students appear in class with photocopied pages. Others facilitate piracy by placing texts in the library reserve where they can be photocopied,” Vogel writes.

The result is less money for publishers, and fewer opportunities for professors like himself to get published. With Vogel’s invention, however, this threat can be stopped.

The idea is simple. As part of a course, students will have to participate in a web-based discussion board, an activity which counts towards their final grade. To gain access to the board students need a special code, which they get by buying the associated textbook.

Students who don’t pay can’t participate in the course and therefore get a lower grade.

The system ensures that students can’t follow courses with pirated textbooks, as tens of thousands are doing today. Lending books from a library or friend, or buying books from older students, isn’t allowed either. At least, not when the copyright holders don’t get their share.

Vogel’s idea leaves the option open for students to use second-hand textbooks, but they still have to buy an access code at a reduced price. This means publishers can charge multiple times for a book that was sold only once.

Needless to say, publishers are excited about gaining more control in the classroom. Anthem Press of London has already expressed interest in the system and Pat Schroeder, president of the Association of American Publishers, also welcomes the idea.

“For every rogue site that is taken down, there are hundreds more demanding similar effort. I can’t think of a more timely example of the need for additional tools,” he says.

On the surface the idea might seem well-intentioned, but to proponents of an open knowledge society it goes completely in the wrong direction. If anything, the Internet should make it easier for students to access knowledge, not harder or impossible.

While it’s understandable that publishers want to stop piracy, preventing poor students from borrowing textbooks from a library or friend goes too far.

Thanks to the Internet, publishers are replaceable. And since many of the textbook authors are professors who get paid by universities, it is not hard to release books in a more open system.

Professor Vogel believes that sending more money to publishers helps academia, which might be a flawed line of reasoning. Isn’t it much better to strive to make knowledge open and accessible, instead of restricting it even further?


Source1: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/igeneration/professors-patent-strangles-textbook-sharing-on-and-offline/16369
Source2: http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-patent-prevents-students-from-sharing-books-120610/
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intrikate88 11th-Jun-2012 07:03 pm (UTC)
The only piracy I see here is the flagrant robbery of students' pockets.
headfights 11th-Jun-2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
what a greedy piece of shit
maladaptive 11th-Jun-2012 07:07 pm (UTC)
I'm unsure how this patent can be enforced? They can't force professors to use the books with the access codes. Unless all publishers are going to go with the model, but I foresee professors just using old editions in that case, or getting the book but not using the online bits.

I just CAN'T see an outside force telling professors how to grade. Few things piss them off more.
teacoat 11th-Jun-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
You might want to look at the actual patent. It says "...a module having a plurality of lines of computer code that require the particular teaching professional to incorporate the discussion board into a syllabus of the particular course in order to adopt the particular text in the syllabus and a module having aplurality of lines of computer code that requires a student to participate in the discussion board for the particular course in order to receive a predetermined percentage of the final grade for the particular course."
mycenaes 11th-Jun-2012 07:08 pm (UTC)
lol @ this bro, how obnoxious of him
sobota 11th-Jun-2012 07:11 pm (UTC)
wow. and i thought people couldn't actively hate poor people any more than usual.
danceprincess20 11th-Jun-2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
This guy is the kind of professor every student hates. The one that loses their shit if you accidentally call them "Mr" or "Ms" instead of "Professor" or "Doctor" (I had a professor who yelled at a student over this once) and that kind of crap.
elobelia 11th-Jun-2012 07:18 pm (UTC)
I had a professor get pissed at me when I accidentally referred to him as a "teacher" instead of a "professor." As a teacher, is it really that insulting to be called one? Really?
tiddlywinks103 11th-Jun-2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
The result is less money for publishers, and fewer opportunities for professors like himself to get published.

You selfish, greedy motherfucker. It's DISGUSTING an educator would attempt to make it MORE difficult for students to afford/attend higher education schools, just so he can get PUBLISHED.

God, I hope this new wave of self-publishing and information access sinks the publishing world, and rebuilds it into something that isn't so exploitative and evil.
maladaptive 11th-Jun-2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
The sad part is, most professors I know who have textbooks see pennies for each one sold. So unless he wrote the one and only book in the field or it's The Definitive Organic Chemistry, dude is not making much on those textbooks.

In one of my classes the prof didn't even CARE if you bought the book, because there were only a few classes taught on the subject in the country and our class was 17 people. He saw, literally, 1 cent per book.
trobadora 11th-Jun-2012 07:15 pm (UTC)
What an arse.

Edited at 2012-06-11 07:15 pm (UTC)
kuhori_rei 11th-Jun-2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Maybe if a year's worth of books didn't cost upwards of $500 (over $1,000 for those in the sciences), students wouldn't pirate course materials.

Assholes.
sesmo 11th-Jun-2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
This isn't pirating. It's perfectly legal to share text books or borrow them from the library (both of which this attempts to make less useful).
windsong_moon 11th-Jun-2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
Vogel’s idea leaves the option open for students to use second-hand textbooks, but they still have to buy an access code at a reduced price. This means publishers can charge multiple times for a book that was sold only once.

Well, this is gross.
dogonwheels827 11th-Jun-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I'm interpreting this wrong but it also seems like it will really hurt bookstores who buyback and resell texts to students each semester.
eversofar 11th-Jun-2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
“Professors are increasingly turning a blind eye when students appear in class with photocopied pages. Others facilitate piracy by placing texts in the library reserve where they can be photocopied,” Vogel writes.

and those professors are awesome and understanding that not all students can afford books. the only professors i encountered that didn't do those things were the ones who wrote the book themselves and wanted students to buy it.

Edited at 2012-06-11 07:27 pm (UTC)
nesmith 11th-Jun-2012 11:48 pm (UTC)
I put six copies of the required text for my comp class on reserve at the library. I had to assign one of the texts the department chair had for the grad students to choose from, even though I wasn't going to be using it much, so I told my students as long as they were doing the reading, I didn't care if they didn't buy the book.
mirhanda 11th-Jun-2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
This is ridiculous. When I buy a book it's mine, if I want to sell it later for half price, it's none of the publishers' business and it never has been. Used books have always been a part of university, and all levels of education for that matter. I hope other professors don't go along with this crap.
moonshaz 12th-Jun-2012 07:32 am (UTC)
This, SFM.
cpsings4him 11th-Jun-2012 07:26 pm (UTC)
I mean, I get that we all have to make a living, but come on, you greedy, old fart! D:

Edited at 2012-06-11 07:27 pm (UTC)
phililen3 12th-Jun-2012 02:22 pm (UTC)
They already get paid so much.
spiffynamehere 11th-Jun-2012 07:28 pm (UTC)
Fuck this guy. Either lower the price of textbooks to something more reasonable or fucking deal with it.
brittlesmile 11th-Jun-2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
Ugh, fuck this guy. The people selling textbooks are already robbing us blind.
_sepia 11th-Jun-2012 07:33 pm (UTC)
So if I'm reading this correctly, you pay full price for the textbook and you get the access code for free, but if you buy a second-hand book you have to buy the access code which will more than likely bump up the total cost of what you're paying probably comparable to the price of a new textbook?

The kicker here being if you don't (or can't) pay the access code for the group discussion your grade will be reduced? Fuck this motherfucker and the horse he rode in on. How much closer are we actually to buying grades here?

Edited at 2012-06-11 07:39 pm (UTC)
randomtasks 11th-Jun-2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Ugh. I 'automatically' failed college algebra because I didn't buy the access code (it was $70 on top of the book being $65, used). Despite the fact the only thing you could do with the access code was to do homework which I thought was kinda pointless since in that class, homework grade only took up 7% of your overall grade. I just did the problems in the book myself and double checked my answers with the answer key in the back and if I got stuck, I would go to the math lab. I always got between 90-100 on my quizzes and tests and my end grade was like 90.2% and the asshole still failed me for not buying the access code.
vulturoso 11th-Jun-2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
"He believes that piracy, lending and reselling of books is a threat to the publishing industry."

The Kindle and Nook have already killed the publishing industry!

The vinyl record is killing the live tour industry!

Video killed the radio star!
xdawnfirex 11th-Jun-2012 09:52 pm (UTC)
vanishingbee 11th-Jun-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
jfc gtfo. I am eternally grateful my profs have a copy of almost all textbooks for short-term loan at the school libraries, being forced to buy some stupid code is ridiculous.
thistlerose 11th-Jun-2012 07:39 pm (UTC)
As a librarian at a community college and a former student, this makes me so angry. Probably the #1 question I get at the reference desk is, Can I get my textbook at the library? We have some textbooks, which the students can check out for a few hours at a time, and I encourage them to make photocopies or to scan the chapters they need. Because they want to do well in their courses, but those books are ridiculously overpriced, and the overwhelming majority of my kids aren't wealthy. *rages*

Others facilitate piracy by placing texts in the library reserve where they can be photocopied

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this is bullshit, right? It isn't copyright infringement if you're copying a portion of something for academic purposes.
celandine 11th-Jun-2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
You are not wrong. It falls under the fair use clause (and also under the right of first sale to make it available at the library), and I'd love to see this raging asshole try to publish anything without access to the library that he appears to be so pissed off at.
layweed 11th-Jun-2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
Stop charging people their first-born child for textbooks then.
layweed 11th-Jun-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
And then stop ripping people off by releasing "new" editions where all you do is shuffle the questions around and slap a new sticker on it.
not_emily 11th-Jun-2012 07:48 pm (UTC)
lonely_hour 12th-Jun-2012 07:58 am (UTC)
A++++++
dogonwheels827 11th-Jun-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
This is stupid and terrible. He seems to be prioritizing a profitable publishing industry over widely accessible and affordable educational materials. Of course, I suppose he can write off poor students not being able to afford books as an unfortunate externality.

/economist hate
kitanabychoice 11th-Jun-2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
perhaps if the cost of education went down as a whole, we wouldn't need to worry about students buying second-hand textbooks as a way to slash the mounting costs of learning.
teacoat 11th-Jun-2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
The patent also allows for a mechanism "...that distributes a portion of the net income from a percentage of student purchases to beneficiaries who enhance the academic freedom otherwise lost by adoption of the system," which I thought maybe meant it would help students who couldn't afford the online code. But at the bottom of the patent the example he gives of who would be a beneficiary is the American Association of University Professors. Like, seriously dude?
endlos_schleife 11th-Jun-2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
If any of my professors started doing this I would drop the course on principle. Not to mention I haven't had the money in a long time to buy all the text books I need. I want to learn not buy my grades.
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