The Chronicle of Higher Education features an interesting article about textbook piracy today. The essence of the article is hardly surprising: More and more textbooks get scanned and swapped online. Some people trade textbooks on torrent sites, others use Scribd, which apparently is only getting one single DMCA take-down notice per day so far - an actually surprisingly low number.

Still, many publishers have started to scour the net for infringing copies and send out take-down notices. Also no surprise there. There are apparently no plans yet to sue textbook-sapping college students, and site administrators have nothing to fear from the textbook publishing industry yet either, according to the article. But there still could be some unintended victims in the fight against textbook piracy. From the article:

"If the problem worsens, publishers may have to take other steps to prevent piracy, such as releasing a new version of most textbooks every semester. The versions could include slight modifications that could be changed easily—such as altering the numbers in math problems."

A new edition for every semester: That might work to slow down piracy initially, but it would also destroy a huge second-hand book market, ranging all the way from the used book section in your local University book shop to websites for swapping physical textbooks. It would essentially raise the price students would have to pay on average for their books - and as such give them another incentive to just get their copy on Scribd.

How about fighting piracy with open textbooks instead?

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