Boundless free, open textbook alternative becomes lawsuit magnet

Credit: flick/Stephen Cummings

Second round funding of $8M in April lets Boundless push on to "overturn the textbook establishment."

So said TechCrunch while explaining that Boundless "tested its platform with students at over 1,000 universities" in the past year. However, three powerhouse academic publishing companies (Macmillan Higher Education, Cengage Learning, and Pearson) sued Boundless in April for "violating their intellectual-property rights," (The Chronicle).

Boundless works with Open Educations Resources (OERs) to gather information equal to a still-limited number of textbooks and courses. Publishers claim Boundless copies the look, feel, illustrations (graphic and text), and organization, if not the exact words, of existing textbooks. Boundless says they will defend their process.

Die, textbook publishers

Textbook pricing violates fair trade laws and creates a price fixing context that abuses students as a customer base. Its a racket that is long overdue for an overhaul.

JH Wyoming on techcrunch.com

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.

tom4cam on chronicle.com

if the textbook publishing industry is suing you, you must be doing something right.

atonse on news.ycombinator.com

Blatant theft

By shouting "horray" when some fly by night group rips off my work, you are not only praising the same unethical behavior you hate in students ( PLAIGERISM = stealing!!)-- you are contributing to the denigration ( and possible) demise of our own academic work.

janetbelsky on chronicle.com

I have trouble understanding how it is "innovative" and "creative" to copy what someone else has done.

nanbunge on chronicle.com

it seems to me that the order of topics is actually a huge part of the intellectual design of a text, and therefore very much the sort of thing that should be protected by intellectual property rights.

jwr12 on chronicle.com

Business model?

"nearly $10 million" of VC money does not intersect with giving things away for free to needy students. I don't believe that the VCs support "its plans to overturn the textbook establishment" unless those plans include returning at least 10 x $10 million to them.

Thad McIlroy on techcrunch.com

It's a little annoying that you're trying to leverage people's sentiment about textbook publishers so actively. Right is right and wrong is wrong, even when we don't like the people who've been wronged.

tptacek on news.ycombinator.com

To me it sounds very similar to Cliffs Notes, which summarizes, chapter by chapter, books covered by copyright.

nostromo on news.ycombinator.com

Has Boundless crossed the line between paraphrasing and stealing? Will you only know where that line is when you see it?

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