Sadly, it looks like the days of free textbooks might be over. In a move that shocks no one, at least two publishing giants are suing the small start-up Boundless Learning over the alleged “theft” of content. According to the suit, Boundless Learning “generates these ‘replacement textbooks’ by hiring individuals to copy and paraphrase from Plaintiffs’ textbooks.”
The suit also departs from the characteristic bland language of most lawsuits in a number of places — stating at points that “Defendant teaches only the age-old business model of theft” and that “Boundless gets an ‘F’ in originality.”
Well, if anyone is qualified to comment on theft as a business model, it’s the textbook publishing industry. Naturally, the CEO of Boundless Learning disagrees with the publishing giants:
The content comes from openly licensed educational content, created and posted online by faculty members over the past two decades, and curated by Boundless Learning’s domain experts, he said. Offerings so far are in biology, economics and psychology.
The publishers also contend that Boundless Learning’s products have “a corrosive effect on learning.” Personally, I believe that the runaway inflation of textbook prices is slightly more deleterious to education than what amounts to a more accurately sourced version of Wikipedia, but hey, what the fuck would I know? I couldn’t afford to buy textbooks when I was in school, so I didn’t learn shit.