THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: A week before Christmas in 2013, Boundless announced it settled a lawsuit filed by three major publishers over allegations of unfair competition, false advertising and copyright infringement. It seemed a timely holiday relief for the Boston-based startup that offered digital textbooks assembled from OER materials.
But after diving into the settlement details (PDF), e-Literate blogger Michael Feldstein offers three reasons why Boundless lost the legal fight. The company had to: 1) pay $200K to each of the three publishers; 2) remove three of its products; 3) change its marketing tactics.
In return, opines Feldstein, Boundless "apparently won the privilege of selling knock-offs that compete against relatively competitively priced originals in a dying product category, provided that they get prior permission from the owners of said originals, and possibly with the requirement that they pay a license fee for each sale."
An earlier post by Feldstein suggests Boundless has shifted its business model from selling directly to students (and avoiding faculty) to marketing directly to educators. "This is one 'pivot' that was predictable, probably from the very beginning," he claims.