Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Professorial Pilfering

Big bucks in Ivy League royalty avoidance:

Book publishers say professors who post long excerpts of protected texts on the Internet without permission cost the industry at least $20 million a year.

Cornell University, the Ivy League college in Ithaca, N.Y., agreed in September to regulate work its faculty puts on the Web, in response to a threatened lawsuit from the Association of American Publishers.

Professors are making material available free rather than requiring students to buy $100 textbooks. While faculty members from Harvard University to the University of Pennsylvania complain of a restricted flow of ideas, publishers say they must protect $3.35 billion in annual U.S. college textbook sales.

"We can't compete with free," says Allan Adler, vice president for legal and governmental affairs with the Washington-based publishers group, whose members include McGraw-Hill Cos. and Pearson Plc.

....Cornell, like other large universities, offers hundreds of courses each semester, with professors using the Internet for making articles or excerpts from books available to students at no charge, Adler says. Each item would typically generate royalties of $10 to $30, he says.

"Professors were putting up multiple chapters from books on course Web sites, and it would be repeated from semester to semester with successive classes, with students purchasing nothing," Adler says, referring to Cornell and other schools.

In a Cornell course in late 2005, 25 separate works on the syllabus were freely available to students as reserved electronic postings on an internal Web site.

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