Guyana Resorts To Buying Pirated Textbooks Because Legal Copies Are Too Expensive [Updated]
from the cost of education dept
The fact that textbooks are too expensive is something that has been documented pretty well here. For example we have the stories of students paying over $180 for an art history book that contains no images, and a student being sued for copyright infringement for selling legally purchased imported textbooks for cheaper than the publishers want. The high cost of textbooks is such a problem that even some governments are taking steps to mitigate that cost.
vmanda sends news that the government of Guyana has begun buying pirated copies of textbooks for its public schools because the publishers charge way too much.
The government of Guyana is making no apologies about the fact that it is buying pirated textbooks for public schools as a cost-saving measure.
Cabinet Secretary Roger Luncheon says officials are buying pirated books from printing firms and companies that photocopy books because of their high quality and lower prices. Luncheon said the government's move is justified.
Of course the publishers of those books are not too happy. In a statement from Emma House of the Publishers Association, she states that the government is breaking many laws.
The Cabinet’s decision in Guyana to procure pirated textbooks for public schools is an indisputably illegal act. This decision is in contravention of Guyanese law, Caribbean law (CARICOM’s revised Treaty of Chaguaramas) and the international Berne Convention.
Of course, what the PA seems to be overlooking is just why Guyana has chosen to ignore international copyright. It feels that the books are just way too expensive. By insisting on high prices, the publishers who make up that organization have put themselves out of reach of this country. Further, the fact that the government is willing to pay for books from pirate book printers is proof that the publishers could do much more to get Guyana to buy legally. Instead, the publishers have chosen to bully the country into paying out more for books than it can.
This is once again the result of copyright holders refusing to adapt to the marketplace, even a marketplace they have built their business around. These publishers have gotten so used to price gouging their customers that they do not know how to properly respond to someone choosing a cheaper alternative. Because the publishers have blinded themselves from reality, they are failing here. If they were actually willing to learn, they would take a step back and work with the government of Guyana to come up with a pricing plan that would actually work. Of course, that might be too much to ask from some companies.
Update: vmanda has provided an update stating that, at the behest of the Publishers Association, a Guyanese court has granted an injunction against local companies that illegally copy textbooks. This means the the government will no longer be able to buy pirated textbooks for the time being. There is no word yet on the government's response to the injunction.