Boundless Legalities?

Open Educational Resources (OER)

Boundless Legalities?

Apr 11, 2012

BOUNDLESS LEGALITIES? What's more buzzworthy than a startup raising $8 million in a Series A? (See Ka'ching below.) Answer: a lawsuit. Boston-based Boundless Learning openly shared (no pun intended) a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement brought against them a couple weeks ago from the Big Three--Pearson, Cengage and Macmillan. "The Boundless textbooks copy the distinctive selection, arrangement, and presentation of Plaintiffs' textbooks..." to produce "unauthorized shadow versions" of copyrighted works, according to the suit. Boundless co-founder, Ariel Diaz, told us this was an "unfortunate excuse to use litigation to protect outdated business models," and vows to fight to the end.

Such suits are both vexing but add an air of cause celebre to a startup. Most of the press is dubbing Boundless a symbol of the OER movement. Even so, bloggers Audrey Watters, Rob Reynolds, and Nick DeSantis raise many good questions, such as the legalities behind protecting the display and arrangement of content in copyrighted works when the information itself is already out in the open.

Ariel doesn't seem fazed by the legal tussle and instead points to the similarities between this case and Cengage's imbroglio with Kno. This "oligopoly" of existing publishers, in his words, is "wrongfully claiming ownership of open knowledge."

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