I am interviewed in Library Journal about #AspenGate

May 22nd, 2014

Library Journal has a piece discussing L’affaire de Aspen, titled Law Profs Revolt after Aspen Casebook Tries to Get Around First Sale Doctrine. I am quoted in a few spots:

Josh Blackman, an assistant professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston who wrote about the situation on his blog, said the new policy seemed closer to the Amazon and Apple model of licensing content for use by consumers, rather than actually selling it to them outright. “Journal publishers are trying to find ways to make more profit,” Blackman told LJ. “And one of the ways they can do it is by transitioning from people owning books to people licensing books.”

The shift in policy, which Blackman said took him and other professors completely by surprise, resulted in a backlash against the publisher, with hundreds of professors and students signing on to a petition begun by University of Maryland law professor James Grimmelmann. (Grimmelmann may be best known to readers as a commentator on the Authors Guild’s long running court cases against Google Books and the HathiTrust.) …

While it’s not a perfect solution, Blackman said that the choice is an important one. Which choice is a good idea for students, he told LJ, will depend on the student, as well as on the cost attached to the different options. Wolters Kluwer representatives failed to respond to requests for comment. …

Blackman was less sure that this flare up would convince publishers to abandon the attempt to shift physical textbooks to a licensing model entirely, but also said that it will at least make publishers more transparent about their policies and offer educators more time to prepare for changes in policy. “It will make publishers leery about trying something like this without consulting professors first,” he said.