A victimless crime?
Who could survive their clinical years without a well worn copy of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine? Yet, like most things in life, textbooks come at a price. A typical reading list for a first year medical student can cost well over £100—a financial sacrifice that many cash strapped students would like to avoid.
Although most of us in the United Kingdom have free access to textbooks at university libraries, many medical students around the world save money by purchasing or downloading textbooks that have been reproduced without permission—so called “pirate” copies. But how easy is it to get hold of a free textbook? And what effect is the practice having on the publishing industry?
In some countries, small printing companies offer to photocopy and bind textbooks for students at a greatly discounted price. Buying textbooks in this way is a much cheaper option for students and it earns