By Erin Geiger Smith
(Reuters) - The University of Phoenix Inc on Wednesday sued
an online tutorial service in federal court in New York for
copyright infringement of the online university's academic
The university claims that the defendants, including the
website Student of Fortune Inc, sell copyrighted materials on
their site, including complete copies of University of Phoenix
The defendants are also "encouraging and promoting copyright
infringement on a large scale by encouraging their users and
tutors" to further distribute the product, the lawsuit said.
Representatives of Chegg Inc, which owns Student of Fortune
and is also named in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to
a request for comment.
Gregory Gulia of Duane Morris is representing the University
According to the lawsuit, Student of Fortune is an "online
tutorial marketplace" where people can post questions or subject
areas in which they need help and then say how much they're
willing to pay a tutor. The tutor will then provide custom
Large amounts of the University of Phoenix's copyrighted
material can be purchased from the site, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is part of an ongoing effort to protect the
university's intellectual property, said Shane Lunceford, an
associate general counsel for the university's parent company,
Apollo Group Inc. Lunceford said the university is also
monitoring websites similar to Student of Fortune.
Ryan Rauzon, a spokesman for Apollo, also said that
shielding its course materials from unauthorized use is part of
the university's effort to combat cheating.
The availability of books and academic materials is part of
a larger discussion about what should be publicly accessible on
The Obama administration on Friday instructed federal
agencies with over $100 million in annual expenditures on
research to develop a plan to make the results of research
funded by the government more available to the public.
The agencies must also come up with a plan to make existing
In October, furthermore, Google Inc and a group of
publishers agreed to settle long-running litigation that began
when Google scanned some 20 million books in partnership with
major libraries. Google's plan angered publishers and authors
who contended that Google violated copyright laws when it failed
to seek their permission.
As part of the settlement, Google agreed that the publishers
could choose to either make available their books and journals
or remove those that had been digitized by Google.
Rauzon said the university materials sold on Student of
Fortune go far beyond academic articles, and include the entire
curricula for courses, such as prompts for essays.
Intellectual property protection of electronic course
materials is increasingly important as more and more
universities allow students to complete course work online,
The case is Apollo Group v. Chegg, U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of New York, No. 13-1336.
For the university: Gregory Gulia of Duane Morris.
For defendants: Not immediately available.
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