Thursday, September 6, 2012

eBooks Contracts and Potential Academic Issues

When we think of eBooks and academia, there are usually rosy visions of potential positive impacts, from lighter backpacks, to search-ability and digital animations.However, unintended consequences can also have ugly effects when a school or program signs a contract with an eBook provider. This summer, Mike Tracy, a well-respected animator, with 11 years of teaching experience at the Art Institute of California is in a dispute caused by an eBook textbook contract that has cost him his job.

Art Institute now requires all students to pay a $50-$75 fee to download a temporary copy of an e-textbook, even if they have already purchased the paper copy of the same book. The instructor's freedom to choose the texts used in the class has also been removed by the school's eBook contract. Even though Mr. Tracy, like many other professors, has never required his students to buy a text, the school gave him the ultimatum that he must use one from their publisher’s list or be terminated.

Art Institute is a private school, but this case provides a cautionary tale for all Academia of the possible negative consequences of a poorly-written, poorly-planned contract.  What are your thoughts on the possible implications of this?

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