Hike in Textbook Costs Persuade Students to Download Illegally

The US General Accountability Office reports that the cost of college textbooks has sky rocketed by 82 percent between 2002 and 2012. The price hike has sent students looking for cheaper alternatives. Until recently, a popular option has been to rent the books, but now more and more students are uploading their textbooks onto the Internet to allow other students to download the texts for free.

A survey of 16000 students administered by the Book Industry Study Group states,

 Students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost as illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors, from scanned copies to illegal downloads to the use of pirated websites, continue to increase in frequency.”

It is illegal to upload and to download PDF versions of copyrighted material without permission. However, students don’t care. When they are saving a potential thousand dollars in the face of already high tuition payments, the associated risks of being caught seem minimal. Students are sharing the online documents via searching the textbook name and PDF.

While it is difficult to discern how prevalent the practice is, it is likely the practice will follow a similar path as the rise of illegally downloaded music. Like music, to track the illegal download of textbooks is difficult due to the easy and widespread nature of the practice. However, unlike music, many don’t necessarily see the download of textbooks as unethical due to the extraordinary hike in prices over the last few years.


Read more here- “More Students are Illegally Downloading College Textbooks for Free,” (Valeria Strauss, The Washington Post)

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Olivia is a graduate of Villanova University where she studied Economics and History, minoring in Gender and Women's Studies. She also has experience working with federal legislatures on health care policy, women's issues, and Internet safety.


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