The annoying side of copyright or why I’m annoyed with Harvard Business School.

Photo source.
For years I couldn’t name anything more obnoxious than the crazy frog, but I stand corrected. I’ve long thought that the DMCA was ridiculous, mostly for the broadcast implications, and that DRM was just a band-aid that irritates people and doesn’t actually prevent piracy. Well, today a student came into our library to see if we could purchase a case study from the Harvard Business School. Should be a simple request, right?


HBS has an almost punitive rights statement which makes it nearly impossible for libraries to purchase case studies for their users. Why? Money, of course. By virtually ensuring that everybody has to purchase their own copy of a paper, it guarantees lots of money for the HBS. It’s a veritable cash cow! I remember when I had to purchase a case study for a class, I was a little shocked that everybody (all 30 of us) had to plonk $20 for a pdf of the article.

So now, the library can’t purchase a document we would love to have and we have to shrug and hope the student can afford the document for find somebody else who can. (I actually don’t want to know about it.)

These sorts of policy not only hinder access but also get in the way of research and progress. How obnoxious, even more so than the crazy frog.






2 responses to “The annoying side of copyright or why I’m annoyed with Harvard Business School.”

  1. Jonathan Rochkind Avatar

    I’m curious to know more about this. Were you trying to purchase a paper copy, or an electronic copy?

    If a paper copy, I am not a lawyer, but I don’t believe they can actually prohibit a library from buying it and lending it. Of course, I suppose they can refuse to sell it to you if they know you are a library. But if they sell a paper copy to an individual, I believe that individual has the legal right to re-sell it to a library, and that library has a legal right to lend it out to their patrons.

    But I could be wrong. But if I were you, I’d check with university/library counsel, and then just buy one individually and re-sell the used copy to the library.

  2. […] (and especially HBR Case Studies) are known to be some of the strictest publishers around when it comes to controlling their intellectual property. They try not to allow any library […]

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