College students have been gravitating toward the idea of digital textbooks for several years, but copyright protection has been one of the few issues standing in the way of widespread acceptance in the academic publishing community. University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras professor Joseph Vogel believes he may have a solution that serves all sides, however, with the debut of a new incentive-based system.
According to Vogel's newly approved patent filing, he has created a web-based system that manages the distribution of digital textbooks in a way that ensures copyright holders are fairly rewarded and deters students from pirating content.
"The system implements a process by which any enrolled student who has not purchased the textbook will be denied access to a discussion board of an official site of the system controlled by the patent holder," the patent abstract states. "Thus, a student who does not legally purchase the text will be unable to participate in the discussion board and therefore will forfeit that portion of the grade associated with it."
According to Ars Technica, such a strategy is likely to win support from professors searching for ways to foster and maintain student engagement. Vogel may have to navigate a few legal hurdles before his system comes to the classroom, however, including current statutes that provide content owners with the right to sell legitimately purchased books.