Long Live the Copycats!
My daughter hates when her brothers copy her. Apparently, so do three major publishers. They are suing Boundless Learning, a company that allows students to access online content that is the page-by-page equivalent to their assigned textbooks. Except Boundless uses all open content, including open educational resources (OER) from top schools. Plus they’ve added videos, instant search, highlighting, notes, etc.
Oh, and it’s free.
Here are the TechCrunch, Chronicle, and Hack Education articles about the suit. Not only are the publishers going after Boundless Learning, they’re going after the funders as well. (I usually give my kids a time-out before it gets to this point.)
While it might be cheaper to buy Boundless rather than sue them at this point, publishers are understandably nervous and looking to make a statement about reverse engineered textbooks. The irony here is that publishers routinely copy each other. Compare the table of contents of the top 3 Biology textbooks and you’ll see what I mean.
OER is not on trial here, but there are implications for those who seek to leverage OER to solve real problems. I can’t help rooting for a group that is willing to take a creative risk to help students, and I hope Boundless can continue providing a legal alternative to $200+ textbooks. I want my kids to use their site someday. Long live the copycats!