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New Bill Proposes Open Source Requirement for Publicly Funded Books 317

Posted by timothy
from the return-to-the-commonwealth dept.
fsufitch writes "On September 30th, the 'Open College Textbook Act of 2009' was introduced to the Senate and referred to committee. The bill proposes that all educational materials published or produced using federal funds need to be published under open licenses. The reasoning behind it takes into account the changing way information is distributed because of the Internet, the high price of college and textbooks, and the dangerously low college graduation rates in the US. Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"
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New Bill Proposes Open Source Requirement for Publicly Funded Books

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  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:38PM (#29609091)

    Hey all,

    Just remember, saying you're all for it on an internet forum doesn't actually do anything... Write your elected officials in support of S.1714, the "Open College Textbook Act of 2009". Here are some links, just in case you're THAT lazy....

    http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml [usa.gov]
    https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml [house.gov]
    http://takeaction.lwv.org/lwv/dbq/officials/ [lwv.org]

    Remember to get the senate AND the house.

    -T

  • by Adaeniel (1315637) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:45PM (#29609173)

    Take a look at amazon.co.uk sometime and compare a textbook there to the same book in the US. The only difference is likely that one says "international version" on the cover. Oh, and it'll be less than half the price.

    So, I took your advice and just did a few comparisons:

    March's Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure. $79.31 and £73.10
    Modern Physical Organic Chemistry: $114.00 and £66.49
    Classics in Total Synthesis: $90.18 and £61.75

    In my case, two of the books are more expensive in the United Kingdom and one is less expensive. I know this might not hold true in all cases, but I don't think the main problem is price gauging. What was always a pain for friends of mine was constant edition updates and the professors that required new editions. A buyer is no longer able to buy a used book when a new edition comes out, and if a new edition was printed they are unable to sell their book back to any bookstores.

  • Re:Seems fair to me. (Score:5, Informative)

    by zolltron (863074) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:05PM (#29609409)

    If this bill passes, it won't change anything. The professors that write these books will simply reject the U.S. funds

    That's just not possible. Almost all universities run on federal funds. If a given professor's research isn't sponsored by federal funds, the cost of the building in which she works almost certainly is (at least in part). The concept of "rejecting" U.S. funds is like rejecting your paycheck, you worked hard to earn it, you take it.

    and get money from other places like IBM, Microsoft, Ford, and so on.

    These places are giving out money for biology, chemistry, theoretical high energy physics, english, history, philosophy, sociology, psychology?!? Maybe a little, but not much.

    Professors want to be reimbursed for their many hours of work, not give books away for free (or cheap).

    First, we (professors) are reimbursed, we're paid by our university to produce exactly this sort of work. So, professors who are being paid for their textbooks are (in a sense) double dipping. We are also grossly underpaid for the amount of work and the level of qualifications, so I can't really fault someone for this, but it is double dipping.

    Second, we don't get much for books. We do give them away for cheap.

  • Re:Seems fair to me. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Z1NG (953122) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @03:51PM (#29610753)
    I don't see why some of those same funds couldn't go to pay the authors. I don't think the authors of textbooks are typically "raking it in" anyway.
  • Re:Seems fair to me. (Score:3, Informative)

    by aztracker1 (702135) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @09:29PM (#29613373) Homepage

    PDF via download? Most students today seem to have laptops, and ebook readers. Not to mention there are a fair number of printers that allow for "self publishing"

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