Why should we have to be in the wrong just for wanting to do things a little more conveniently? Why make such a big deal out of that? These are questions that will visit some individuals’ minds whenever convenience and ethics come into conflict. One such circumstance, is that of procuring textbooks. How some choose to acquire them has been attracting controversy for some time.
Printing shops are a key part of Anam’s commercial scene. Exiting the campus’s West Gate, one comes face to face with not one but two printing shops, side by side. Another printing shop is on the KU campus, and nearly all of them are heavily patronized. One popular shop service is the copying of copyrighted textbooks. This has been an issue since 2001 and is a criminal act in most cases. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of resistance from most printers and the professors condoning—and in some cases, encouraging—this form of piracy.
Students have no excuses for copying textbooks that can be purchased at the Central Plaza Uni Store or through the Internet. Stealing intellectual property just to save money is not something a KU student, or anyone, should do. Arguments are sometimes made for copying, which are as follows: the books copied can be as thick as 1300 pages; they can cost as much as 69,000 won; less than half of the text may be used during the entire class, with some books not being used at all outside class. For texts heavy as boulders that will eventually be used fully, such as the intermediate text for accounting, splitting them after properly purchasing them is a better solution than pirating.
When unlawful acts persist despite the perpetrators being aware of its wrongness, a different solution than strengthening punishment may be helpful.
There is a rule worth paying attention to when discussing issues of pirating texts; professors utilize it while creating readers, which often are a compilation of copyrighted works. Copyright law article 25 clause 3 clearly states that copyrighted materials may be replicated or shared should it be deemed necessary for the sake of education. A system has been utilized since 2014, wherein a university can distribute such material first and compensate the authors and publishers later. The excuses for illegal copying have to do with cost, weight, and at times accessibility; all three could be removed should all texts be custom-created, with excerpts pertinent to the curriculum making up the bulk, and distributed as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file through university websites. This allows for greater efficiency in that professors can add, subtract, or modify texts to suit each class they teach.
Allowing such a system may also help compensation be delivered more swiftly. Last year the Financial News reported that 33.8 percent of compensation for utilizing copyrighted materials was unpaid, but bringing distribution out into the open may increase compensation. As a safety measure against accusations of pirating, requiring a certain amount of research from professors be included in these custom texts could also stimulate intellectual activity as well as ease the literal burden of students. There would be no more need to borrow and pirate any heavy books, and no more need to pay a large sum for only half-taught texts.
Of course, where there are carrots there should also be whips. No matter what students’ grievances may be with their texts, copying them should be met with a proper penalty. This does not apply only to students, but to the multitudes of printing shops around KU that enable piracy. Students, shops, and authorities alike need to be aware of the insidiousness of piracy in this country and be determined to end it. Without this, all the free texts in the world is not going to stop intellectual theft.