Textbook piracy thriving in Canada?

Students say they know it’s stealing, say high education costs justify photocopying

From The Toronto Star:

The high cost of university textbooks in Canada is driving students and copy shops to contravene federal copyright law, creating a thriving underground photocopying industry.

A Star investigation found 10 copy shops near the University of Toronto and Ryerson University willing to either photocopy full textbooks or allow customers to use self-serve copy machines before binding the pages together – creating books as good as new at a fraction of the cost.

Students say they understand photocopying textbooks is akin to stealing from publishers, but argue they have no choice given the high cost of post-secondary education. Depending on the subject, new textbooks can cost as much as $300 per course, adding up to a yearly tab of $1,300 or more.

Publishers say the underground industry across Canada costs $75 million annually in lost revenue, a quarter of their business. Both large and small copy shops have been accused of the practice.

Ontario’s student Textbook and Technology Grant, mentioned in the article, is a helpful initiative, but $150 is a paltry sum considering the cost of textbooks and other learning resources in many programs.