The students in Whelan’s class are all using the same program, called ALEKS. But peek over their shoulders and you’ll see that each student is working on a different sort of problem. A young woman near the corner of the room is plugging her way through a basic linear equation. The young man to her left is trying to wrap his mind around a story problem involving fractions. Nearby, a more advanced student is simplifying equations that involve both variables and fractions.
At first glance, each student appears to be at a different point in the course. And that’s true, in one sense. But it’s more accurate to say that the course is literally different for each student.
With the planned settlement between Google and book publishers still on indefinite hold, a legal battle by proxy has started. Google partnered with many libraries at US universities in order to gain access to the works it wants to digitize. Now, several groups that represent book authors have filed suit against those universities, attempting to block both digital lending and an orphaned works project.
The suit is being brought by the Authors’ Guild, its equivalents in Australia, Quebec, and the UK, and a large group of individual authors. Its target: some major US universities, including Michigan, the University of California system, and Cornell. These libraries partnered with Google to get their book digitization efforts off the ground and, in return, Google has provided them with digital copies of the works. These and many other universities have also become involved with the HathiTrust, an organization set up to help them archive and distribute digital works; the HathiTrust is also named as a defendant.