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OER in Poland and privileged monopolies hiding behind the guise of the free market

 Reading this exchange from the bottom comment upwards should make this exchange more understandable

Rory McGreal:

I am not opposed to the private sector and I support the free market When governments build road, schools, hospitals, jet planes, they contract with private companies ostensibly with an open bidding process. But to argue that governments are thus unfair monopolies cannot be sustained. Many "private" companies feed at the government 's monopoly trough.
On the other hand, publishers only exist BECAUSE OF government intervention in the marketplace. The government gives them a privileged monopoly or copy right. The government is thus constraining trade and interfering in the free market for their benefit. This is allowed for a noble reason to support the creators of knowledge and art. But for publishers to claim that they have a free market is just not true. They should sit on their privileged monopoly and be happy that the government suffers them to describe (in an Orwellian fashion) their monopoly as "intellectual property".

All the best.

On 12-08-02 8:19 AM, Cable Green wrote:

Hi All:

Jacky and I are friends, but she knows I disagree with her on this point ;)

My take is: (someone please correct me if any of my information is wrong)

  1. Given the current market (and education policy) is not working for elementary students in Poland.  Parents have to buy textbooks for their children. Textbooks cost approximately the same as what someone makes earning a minimum wage - and (as a result) roughly 50% of Polish school children do not have access to their own textbook while in class.
  2. The Polish government has decided all of its children deserve access to educational resources while they learn.
  3. The government will provide grant funding to a 3rd party non-profit organization that will create open RFPs to commission openly licensed textbooks - RFPs that the commercial textbook publishers can reply to and create high quality textbooks with public funds.
  4. The net result is, all Polish elementary students will have textbooks when they learn, the publishers can still get paid to build the books, and parents don't have to choose between buying food and rent OR buying textbooks.

What is the fuss about? Publishers don't want the existing business models to change.

Here are some more points from Stephen Downes on this topic (posted on this list: Subject:  Re: [OER] Congress Introduces Language to Strip OER from Dept. of Labor Funding):

There are many cases where it is appropriate for government to, as you say,
'undercut industry'. For example:

- industry could make lots of money building roads and bridges and changing

tolls, but government does this (usually without tolls) because it's a lot
more efficient

- industry could make lots of money offering health care, but in many

nations (such as Canada, my own nation) government provides these services,
because it's more efficient, and many people could not afford commercial
health care

- private industry would make a lot of money offering primary and secondary

school, but government offers this service to ensure a proper quality of
education and to ensure all can attend

- industry makes money delivering letters and packages, but government also

provides a postal service, because industry will not serve remote regions at
reasonable rates

- private industry offers security and protection services, and would make a

lot more money if not undercut by public police and fire services, but
government provides these to ensure everyone in society is protected


It *can* be appropriate for government to 'undercut industry', and these are

cases in which industry cannot or will not provide services at reasonable
rates to all segments of society.

It is *arguable* that (a) academic and educational publishing is an

essential service that ought to be available to all segments of society, and
(b) private industry is not able or willing to offer these services to all
segments of society at a reasonable cost.

In such a case, it is reasonable for government to 'undercut industry' in

order to ensure that the benefits of the educational system reach everyone
in society.

Indeed, I would go further and argue that in some cases the government ought

to *block* industry participation in some markets where industry
participation is harming, rather than serving, the public interest. One such
case is industry participation in academic publishing, where
government-granted monopolies over the distribution of government-funded
academic and educational materials are resulting in severely limited access
to educational and academic materials.




Cable Green, PhD
Director of Global Learning
Creative Commons



On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 6:00 AM, Jacky Hood <> wrote:

Selling below cost is the standard definition of 'dumping'. As an example of 'dumping', Chinese telecommunications vendors sold some equipment below cost until they drove Lucent, Nortel, Ericsson and other manufacturers out of that market and, in some cases, out of business. Now the Chinese are raising their prices.


It is definitely unfair to reduce one's costs to zero by using taxpayer money (including taxes on the competitors themselves).

At College Open Textbooks, one of our guidelines is "No enemies, no victims". Publishing companies provide a valuable service and their employees care a lot about students and education. Let's work together to drive down costs and open access to education, not fight each other.



Jacky Hood
Co-Director, Open Doors Group / College Open Textbooks
Member, TAP-a-PM
650 323-6509


----- Original Message -----

From: Sandrine Regiec

To: Open Educational Resources - an online discussion forum

Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2012 3:42 AM

Subject: Re: [OER] Atack of Polish commercial publishers on open e-handbooks



2012/8/2 Bożena Bednarek-Michalska <>

Dear Colleagues

Commercial publishers in Poland, sharply attacked the Ministry of Education for making the project open e-handbooks (Digital School), their argument is that MEN is against the rules of competition, is unfair competition giving hanbooks for free. Have you met somewhere in the world with such an attack? How we can support the Ministry in such a situation, what mechanisms to use, the Coalition for Open Education is looking for arguments and examples from other countries.

Can you help us and advice something?

Bożena Bednarek-Michalska
Nicolaus Copernicus University Library
Deputy Director
+48 566114417
+48 669601898

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