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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Empire Strikes Back: Casebook Publishers Try to Limit Resale of Comp Copies

American_criminal_procedure_3 Have folks come across the legend now stamped on the cover of complimentary review copies of Thomson-West casebooks sent to professors -- "PROFESSOR REVIEW COPY.  NOT FOR RESALE" -- apparently in an effort to undercut the after-market spawned by book resellers that now prowl the corridors of most law schools?  Have folks seen similar language on the covers of complimentary review copies of casebooks from the other law school book publishers (Aspen, Foundation Press, and LexisNexis)?

I could not find anything on the publishers' web sites restricting faculty use of complimentary review copies:

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I did have a publisher rep challenge one of my recent requests for a comp copy. I re-requested a title that I had requested from them last fall but never received, and I got an e-mail from them indicating that I was only entitled to one free copy. I wrote back to say that the copy I had requested had never arrived, and they went ahead and sent me a replacement. From that example, I might be tempted to conclude that publishers are trying to limit the number of comp copies in circulation.

But on the other hand, I have gotten literally dozens of free casebooks in which I have only the vaguest interest. Once the publishers figure out that you teach in a given area, it seems that you are on their mailing list for anything published in that area in the future, whether specifically requested or not. As my shelves fill with unrequested "casebook spam," the resale option looks ever more attractive...

Posted by: Tim Armstrong | May 31, 2007 12:16:48 PM

When you order books from Foundation/Thomson's faculty site, you have to agree to certain terms that most of us probably do not read. However, those terms are probably binding contracts and they prevent the reselling of texts. I guess you might be able to avoid the contract by ordering over the phone. If a book is automatically sent, I supose there is no contractual restriction against reselling, but then again there is no right to a free book and if one gets caught reselling perhaps the company will no longer send comp.copies.
Mitch Rubinstein
Adjunct Profs Blog

Posted by: Mitchell Rubinstein | Jun 2, 2007 7:38:05 PM