Last year, a free-textbook company called Boundless was sued by three major textbook publishers. Pearson, Cengage Learning, and Macmillan Higher Education filed a joint complaint in March 2012 against Boundless, accusing the company of violating their copyrights. However, the complaint was not about the content in the textbooks but how the content was arranged.
The publishers argued that the way which Boundless creates its textbooks violate their copyrights. Boundless creates its textbooks by asking students which traditional textbook they need and then compiles open content to create free versions of the textbooks. The publishers say the Boundless textbooks are too similar to the publishers’ versions and that Boundless is stealing the substance of their books.
Ariel Diaz, chief executive of Boundless, disagrees with the publishers’ accusations, saying “you can’t copyright facts and ideas.” Despite feeling confident in their case against the publishers, Boundless has rewritten the textbooks which were accused of copyright infringement. However, Mr. Diaz has stated that the rewrite was not in response to the lawsuit, since they still stand by their original versions, and instead just the evolution of the company’s products. In addition, Boundless has filed a counterclaim which asks for the judge to rule that the rewritten textbooks do not violate any of the publishers’ copyrights. Boundless claims that the publishers’ lawsuit is now moot since the infringing textbooks are no longer available.
The publishers’ lawyer says that the rewritten textbooks do not change anything and they will continue to press their lawsuit.
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