A patent created by an American economics professor would penalize students who don’t purchase academic textbooks, cracking down on the amount of book sharing and pirating and giving lower grades to students who do this.
The patent would require classes to have an online discussion forum to discuss the textbook’s material, one that students could only access with a pass that comes with the textbook, CBC News reported. Students wouldn’t be able to share these passes, and those without them would get a lower grade in the class. Those who buy used copies of the textbook would still have the option to buy the pass at a lower cost, the report said.
Though the patent has yet to be adopted by any professors or institutions, it has already been met with criticism from professors and education bloggers, Slate reported. Some have said it is the equivalent of asking students to pay for good grades, and puts an additional strain on already cash-strapped students. The patent would address a growing worry among publishers—the pirating of textbooks, especially e-books, reported the blog Tech Crunch.
The professor who took out the textbook patent, an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras named Joseph Henry Vogel, said the measure is meant to open access to information rather than restrict it.
Vogel anticipates that publishers will be included to upload electronic versions of the textbooks for fair use if the product itself is the access to the discussion board, and even would offer the passes for free or reduced cost to students from low- to moderate-income families, Slate reported.