London-headquartered publishing and education company Pearson is suing California-based online textbook retailer Chegg for allegedly infringing Pearson’s copyright, Insidehighered.com has reported.

The two companies had a four-year long partnership to provide 50 Pearson titles to students via Chegg through an online textbook rental programme, an arrangement that terminated at the end of May this year.

Pearson is accusing Chegg of infringed its copyright by selling answers to end-of-chapter questions in Pearson’s textbooks. The answers are available for a monthly fee via Chegg Study, an online tool that answers thousands of homework questions.

In a press release Pearson stated: “Those answers are derived from and often copied directly from Pearson’s end of chapter questions themselves.”

The complaint has been filed in the District Court of New Jersey, seeking unspecified damages and a court order requiring Chegg to stop using answer derived from Pearson materials.

Talking to Insidehighered.com intellectual property lawyer Jonathan Band said the case could affect the entire study guide industry: “I​​t could undermine not only Chegg, but you have this entire industry of study guides, and the study guides are all based on existing texts and follow the general selection and arrangement of those texts.”

In a statement a Chegg spokesperson responded: “Chegg will fight Pearson’s allegations vigorously and we believe we are in full compliance with copyright law. Chegg has been helping millions of students learn and thrive for many years, in compliance with copyright laws, creating a transformative digital learning platform that helps them learn more in less time and at a lower cost.”

Date published: 17 September 2021

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