Textbook publisher Wiley & Sons loses Supreme Court copyright case

JISHOU, HUNAN — Selling textbooks printed abroad in the USA does not infringe the copyright of the books’ publisher, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday in a 6-3 decision. The decision means a Thai entrepreneur can legally resell textbooks in the States. The adversaries in this case were John Wiley & Sons, which publishes the text I used for AP Physics for many years, among others, and Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai student who found a clever way to make money. He bought Wiley’s texts legally in Thailand, where the prices are lower than in the States, and then resold them (legally) in the USA for a tidy profit, while still undercutting Wiley’s American retail prices. (Which is not hard, considering how high those prices are, especially for science, technology, engineering and math — STEM — texts. One book alone might cost $150 or more.) As you can imagine, Wiley was not pleased, and took Kirtsaeng to court, contending that he was violating its copyright by reselling books intended for Thai consumers in the USA. Two lower courts found in Wiley’s favor, but the Supreme Court overturned those decisions, finding no clear provisions in existing copyright law that would make Kirtsaeng’s enterprise ...

I know what I don’t know … I think 14

JISHOU, HUNAN — I realized over this winter holiday how much I don’t know about teaching English. Despite accolades from my students and my fellow teachers, I’m not so satisfied with my work so far. I get better at it every term, but I have a long ways to go as a language teacher. Last term, my workload was relatively easy: two periods of Western Culture and six periods of Oral English a week. Nevertheless, a lot of my time was spent prepping for the Culture class. I felt somewhat guilty that I was not putting in more time prepping for the Oral English classes, especially for the freshmen, but I had organized the classes well enough that things pretty much took care of themselves. This term, I have more work to do. The juniors have me for two subjects: British Literature and Academic Writing. Needless to say, I’ve got several months of hardcore reading and writing ahead of me. The sophomores will still meet me twice a week for Oral English, and I hope to try some new activities to enliven the classes even more. The freshmen will have a different foreign teacher, since we each typically teach eight ...

And here’s something even more wrong than Rand Paul 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — I just read this at Pharyngula. Words escape me. Any of my former physics students could write a better explanation of electricity than this tripe. It’s apparently from a homeschooling science text peddled by Bob Jones University. [The link in PZ’s post seems to be broken. The page shown is from the Science 4 textbook, printed in 2004.]

The primary-secondary textbook mill exposed

A few posts back, I wrote about the efforts by anti-evolution members of the Texas State Board of Education to emasculate the state’s science standards. It was big news, because Texas periodically buys its textbooks en masse, giving it a disproportionate influence on the content of the nation’s school textbooks. To put it another way, if the Texas SBOE had mandated that Texas children learn about Intelligent Design in Biology or the steady-state-universe theory in Earth Science, the SBOE would then prefer to buy textbooks that cover such topics. So, textbook publishers would scramble to add this content to their existing texts to remain competitive. If the changes were limited to Texas, it would be bad for Texas schoolchildren. But textbook publishers cannot offer 50 or more different textbooks versions, one for each state and territory of the USA. It would be neither feasible nor economic. So they target their textbooks’ content to the three biggest buyers, Texas, California and Florida. Tamim Ansary, who used to work in the textbook field, wrote an expose of sorts about the textbook mill for Edutopia in 2004. It’s been reprinted on the Edutopia website, and well worth the read, especially if you have ...
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