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Books Education Patents

Patent Granted on Mandatory Digital Keys to Prevent Textbook Piracy 168

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the arm-the-lawsuit-cannon dept.
First time accepted submitter discussM tipped us to a story about a recently granted patent in which "a system and method preventing unauthorized access to copyrighted academic texts is provided in which trademark licenses, discussion boards, and grade content are integrated into a web-based system that aligns the interests of teaching professionals, students, and publishers while also enhancing the overarching academic mission to create and disseminate knowledge." Quoting Torrent Freak: "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." But don't worry too much, from Ars: "Beyond the legal questions, other experts suggested forcing students to buy texts through such a system is unlikely to be implemented. Professors have few incentives to make it more difficult and to compel students even more than they already are to buy textbooks, digital or analog. (A 2011 survey from UC Riverside found that 78 percent of undergraduates 'bought fewer books, bought cheaper books or read books on reserve to help meet expenses.')"
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Patent Granted on Mandatory Digital Keys to Prevent Textbook Piracy

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  • Re:Course fees? (Score:4, Informative)

    by couchslug (175151) on Monday June 11, 2012 @09:21PM (#40291007)

    Unless customers DEMAND change it won't happen because book sales are highly profitable.

    College is a business. Business is war.

  • Old news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Eightbitgnosis (1571875) on Monday June 11, 2012 @09:24PM (#40291029) Homepage
    I'm in my sophomore year of college, and I've already taken half a dozen classes requiring an $80 online pass.
  • Re:Wow, nice. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:38AM (#40292687) Homepage Journal

    At least according to the 9th Circuit in Vernor v. Autodesk, there is no first sale doctrine if the transaction includes a licensing agreement which substantially restricts (such as prohibiting subsequent transfer of the access license) the rights of the purchaser. All this, even if the transaction is treated as a straight-up sale in all other regards by both parties (full upfront payment with no obligation to return the material after a time, and no further obligations on the part of the seller).

    As a result, any sale can be converted to a license simply by posting a licensing agreement which includes restrictive terms. This latter part is not idle speculation, but is actually specifically noted by the 9th Circuit order. Given that the 9th Circuit declined an en banc hearing on the results and SCOTUS declined certiorari, the ruling will stand unchallenged until the unlikely event that another Circuit issues an opposing ruling. Given that the US judiciary has evolved from ruling on function (looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, probably a duck) over form (looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, appellant claims it's a cat, probably a cat), it's unlikely SCOTUS would reverse this ruling even if it somehow ends up in front of them though.

  • Right to Read (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:57AM (#40292765) Homepage Journal

    Not that I'm otherwise a huge fan of RMS, but I'm surprised I haven't seen any reference to the "Right to Read" in this discussion yet. Given the direction US copyright and education are going, it gets scarily closer every day.

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html [gnu.org]

  • Re:Wow, nice. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @03:06AM (#40292813) Homepage Journal

    I agree. The 9th Circuit judges who heard the case I listed do not.

    Specifically:

    The ALA fears that the software industry’s licensing practices could be adopted by other copyright owners, including book publishers, record
    labels, and movie studios.

    These are serious contentions on both sides, but they do not alter our conclusion that our precedent from Wise through the MAI trio requires the result we reach. Congress is free, of course, to modify the first sale doctrine and the essential step defense if it deems these or other policy considerations to require a different approach.

    The Court tacitly agrees with the ALA's claims as to the potential effects of the ruling on other media should the licensing practices of the software industry be adopted by other distributors outside the software industry. Book sales are only different because the use of licensing has not been adopted. Without Congressional intervention, book and video sellers are free to adopt the conventions of software licensing and end secondary markets.

  • by progician (2451300) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @05:16AM (#40293297) Homepage

    You are right, but then it would make sense that Universities, instead of costing the price of a family house, would transform to a professional social network, where individuals with different skills could organize different study groups, and academic reference would be the list of workgroups with their freely available, freely usable published results, depending on the field.

    It is insane to see that while the cost of distributing information is rapidly falling, the costs of education is steadily growing.

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