Friday 3 January 2020

Free casebooks for law students (?!)

Inside Higher Ed has an article today discussing how an increasing number of law professors are publishing their own casebooks at little or no cost to students. The examples they give are from NYU Law: "Barton Beebe, a law professor at NYU, published the sixth edition of his trademark-law textbook last year. Fellow NYU professors Jeanne Fromer and Christopher Jon Sprigman also published the first edition of their copyright-law textbook in 2019. Both titles are available to download electronically at no charge."
Interestingly, the article points out that these free books are not necessarily considered to be Open Educational Resources (OER): "Definitions of OER vary, but many advocates agree that OER content must be openly licensed to make clear that users can revise and remix the content however they desire. Creative Commons licenses requesting that users provide attribution to the original author, or preventing them from selling the work commercially, are common for OER materials. But licenses stating “no derivatives” are not. These licenses prohibit users from sharing content they have modified without prior permission, even if their changes improve the original material."

The article does NOT discuss Harvard's Berkaman Center H2O Open Casebook Project, of which Pitt Law's Barco Law Library is a member. H2O is an OER platform for creating, editing, organizing, consuming, and sharing course materials; it helps law faculty create high quality, open-licensed digital textbooks for free. 

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