Innovation Asset Blog

Education technology innovator faces copyright complexities

Interactive textbook publisher Boundless has been causing quite a stir in the higher education community recently as its products continue to challenge traditional market leaders and intrigue students and investors. However, pending interpretation of copyright law could soon make or break the business venture's future prospects.

Boundless has become one of the most recognizable faces in the open source education movement, according to Inside Higher Ed. The company attracted $8 million in its latest round of venture capital fundraising to support an innovative operational model which essentially reverse engineers "textbook replacements" from publicly available materials. These versatile, low-cost learning aids have tested well with students, but the company has fielded several copyright infringement lawsuits as well.

Boundless has since shifted gears and removed a number of controversial beta products from its lineup, but plaintiffs continue to pursue litigation. As a result, the company has now filed an Amended Answer and Counterclaim in the hopes of quickly confirming or denying the legality of its next-generation of product offerings before sinking additional resources into development.

As it stands, according to TechCrunch, 80 percent of the college textbook market is controlled by four leading publishers. In Boundless' estimation, traditional textbook costs have also risen at three times the rate of inflation in recent years. Yet while the customer value proposition for the company's agile alternatives is clear, it remains to be seen whether the company has the resources to sustain a protracted legal battle and expand its market penetration.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.