Should Aspen Publishers’ casebooks be boycotted?

by Paul Alan Levy    

Law professor Josh Blackman reports that Aspen Publishers is promoting the next edition of the property law casebook he assigns pursuant to a license scheme apparently intended to undermine the application of the first-sale doctrine to books: students must agree to return the casebook at the end of the class, even if they have thoroughly marked it up with notes and highlighting.  The apparent purpose is to argue that the publisher retained title in the book and hence it is not subject to the first-sale doctrine.  Will Aspen try to enforce this against the students, or only against companies that maintain a secondary market in used textbooks?

The best response – for law faculty to stop assigning the casebook.


Maryland's James Grimmelman has started a faculty petition on in which faculty pledge to stop assigning Aspen books.  He has also posted a more detailed legal analysis here