Whenever universities start a new semester each March and September, students start to ponder whether to buy their textbooks or copy them. Although every student knows the strong regulations against and punishment for illegally creating a new book, each new semester many university students continue to copy published university textbooks. The biggest reason for the copying is that books are really expensive. A typical university student takes 5 to 7 classes a semester. Therefore, to buy all textbooks for all courses at the bookstore require anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 won because one textbook usually cost about 20,000 won. However, copy shops located at the front of universities sell the same textbooks much cheaper than bookstores. Because professors tend to upload their course syllabi on the Internet before students actually register for courses, copy shop owners can find out which textbooks are needed for each class so that they can prepare copied versions and sell them at one-third the cost. The problem is that copy store versions are illegal so there is the problem of copyright. Also, following an increase in illegal textbook version sales, university area bookstores are facing difficulty because they are losing income from the sales of university textbooks. Regarding the illegal version university textbooks, the Sookmyung Times asked two Sookmyungians whether Korea should crack down on the sale and purchase of these illegally copied university textbooks.
Government Should Crack Down on Illegally Copied University Textbooks
Division of Korean Language and Literature '12
In my opinion, illegally copying of university textbooks needs to be cracked down upon by the government.
Firstly, the public’s wrong awareness needs changing as people cannot change themselves. When asked if copying a university textbook is illegal, almost every student knows that the act is illegal and that it is an infringement upon the copyright. However, although they know it is illegal, they take copying for granted because upper year students have done it in the past. Since people cannot change their attitude alone, restrictions need to exist to change the public’s attitude.
Second, buying an expensive textbook is students’ responsibility. In mandatory public school education, schools chose and bought the same textbooks for all students. Therefore, no student had to worry about the cost of buying textbooks. However, university is private education. Students need to choose their classes themselves and they need to buy textbooks by paying their own money. Because they must take responsibility for their choices, they need to endure the expensive prices of textbook rather than buying illegal copies at lower prices.
Third, big damage falls upon copyright holders. If university professors and students use illegally copied university textbooks, originals in bookstores do not sell well. Poor sales at university bookstores is itself an issue; however, looking deeper, the copyright holders do not gain a reasonable royalty from the sales of their books. To protect copyright holders’ rights, regulation on illegally copied university textbooks is needed.
For my aforesaid three reasons, there must be stricter restriction on the copying of university textbooks. Although it is impossible to completely eliminate the illegal copying of university textbooks, with tough restrictions, a great amount of illegal copying can be prevented.
Department of Japanese Studies '12
It is irrational to unconditionally crack down on the copying of university textbooks. First of all, it is difficult for university students to buy the numerous required textbooks every semester. Moreover, students do not study the entire textbook because the book contains too much information for just one semester. Also, students are required to buy the latest version, which does not differ greatly from the previous version. That is, students cannot buy used books. Professors often make students to purchase the revised edition, so they can’t buy used books, which are much cheaper.
Second, it is impossible to crack down on something 100 percent. There are over 250 universities in Korea and every university offers hundreds of courses each semester. Also, there are many copy shops in front of every university. Therefore, it is impossible to exercise strict control at every university and every course. In fact, at present, only a select few copy shops have faced restrictions and have been punished. Most copy shops have operated without fear until now.
Third, university textbooks are too expensive. Most university textbooks are either thrown out or shelved after finishing a class. Many books were not even covered during the class. Therefore, the price compared to its use is low, so students have no choice but to resort to copied textbooks, which are cheaper than new books from a bookstore.
For the above three reasons, it is irrational to crack down on copied university textbooks. In America and Europe, universities purposely present an opportunity to buy used books to lighten students’ burden. Universities there require university bookstores to sell, alongside new textbooks, used textbooks at 10 to 50 percent of the cost of a new book. Like this, Korean universities need to devise new ways of making textbooks more affordable for students and they need to find alternative methods instead of cracking down.