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Teen Livid After Parent Demands She Stop Illegally Selling Digital Copies Of Textbooks To Classmates

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/ Getty Images

Kids are so creative, and they always find ways to scam each other.

Usually a school black market is completely harmless, but it is still a good idea to keep an eye on them.

Redditor aitadaughterbusiness encountered this very issue with their daughter. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.

They asked:

“AITA for shutting down my daughter’s business?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My daughter’s (17f) school doesn’t offer an online copy of most textbooks and their textbooks are heavy so whenever her class starts a new chapter, she scans the chapter in the textbook onto her tablet and uses her tablet in class.”

“People started asking her for copies so she charges $5 per chapter. She has approximately 100 ‘clients’ and makes around $600-$900 a month.”

“I didn’t know she was doing this until I saw that she was making a lot of large purchases (new iPad, phone, and MacBook, nice clothes, DoorDashing food at least once a week, etc) and when I asked her how she got the money for this, she told me.”

“I told her that taking money from her classmates isn’t okay and told her to shut it down and she threw a tantrum because it’s ‘easy money’ and because her dad (my ex) is fine with it.”

“She’s staying with my ex and won’t talk to me so I wanted to know if I was the a**hole.”

Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.

“Wait … isn’t it illegal to make and especially sell copy’s of textbooks? Yeah it’s quick money but so is theft.” ~ MasterpieceOk4688

“Yup it’s illegal. If caught, it is possible she will get off w/ a slap on the wrist, but she is more than likely to get expelled.”

“And parents will tell. It just takes the right kind of parent to find out their poor baby is spending their hard earned allowance on this & they will run straight to the administration.”

“I can’t believe the father doesn’t have better judgement, but then reading the comments on this thread, I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised. NTA.” ~ Corpuscular_Ocelot

“Yeah, it’s a massive copyright violation. OP needs to shut it down because he, as his daughter is a minor, can get sued something ridiculous for this.” ~ fallen_star_2319

“Not to mention that if this is a public school in the US, the daughter likely doesn’t (technically) own it and its merely a borrowed copy from the school that she would have to return at the end of the year.”

“I love the idea of kids selling stuff at school and making a business (teaches valuable entrepreneurship experience and offers a gateway to learning money-management), but only when there aren’t additional rules the kids would be breaking.”

“If OP’s reasoning was the potential backlash the daughter could face, I would agree…but telling her to stop because she shouldn’t be making money from her peers? Yeah, the world doesn’t work like that.” ~ SubstantialDrawing7

It’s a slippery slope.

“Well if the girl is smart she should not sell a copy – she should sell the service of making a copy. Which is the exact same thing she’s doing now, just worded differently.” ~ 

“Now what she’s doing is no different than what Kinko is doing – helping someone else make a perfectly legal personal copy of a work they already own and getting paid for that service.” ~ Ozryela

“Chiming in as a US IP attorney (and I acknowledge OP may be from another country): there are multiple ways you can come at the legality of this, but what most people are missing is that she likely doesn’t own the book, the school does.”

“Therefore, she’s making and selling permanent copies of books that she did not purchase. I would say this is akin to checking out a library book and making a copy to keep or renting a DVD from blockbuster (I’m old) and burning a copy – which isn’t okay.”

“She went the extra mile of offering to do the same for others for payment. Every permanent copy made is a sale the publisher loses. Not good.” ~ Particular_Drive_658

“The text book industry is extremely sleazy so I don’t see an ethical issue with skirting their unethical business practices. Some of these kids are in poverty and can’t afford the overpriced books. She’s helping them.” ~ eyejafjallajokull

“I could be wrong, but it sounds like the kids are paying for the convenience of having the textbook on a tablet, so they all have the textbook from school. Selling it is definitely against copyright laws, scanning/copying for personal use is still a gray area.”

“I agree that the textbook industry is unethical, there’s no need for a new edition every year. In college, I ended up either getting an older (like 4 years) edition for like $15 compared to the new on for $200. Everything was exactly the same.” ~ RevolutionaryRanger0

“Yeah … no. I work for a major textbook wholesaler/distributor and it is absolutely not the university bookstore gouging students.”

“Many of them have a less than 15% markup. There are some exceptions but in general it is the publishers who are to blame for textbook pricing.”

“Your Dad may work for a publisher but unless they are very small he has no way to know what that bookstore’s cost was from the publisher. Publishers regularly assign books dozens of ISBNs so that they can use different pricing models to rip off students at a particular school or in a particular region.”

“I’ve seen the same book wholesale for $28 and $245 in the same semester at 2 different schools simply because one school negotiated a better deal with their sales rep.”

“Publishers are the ones rearranging chapters, giving the book a new title (version 6, now with eLearning CD!) and charging full price for it. They are trying to eliminate the used book market.” ~ jellomonkey

“Honestly I don’t really think there anything to be worried about.
I have never once seen anyone being expelled or anyone being legally held responsible for it.”

“OFC its illegal. But nothing is gonna happen.”

“YTA as it seems all the kids have physical book just don’t like to carry it and are willing to pay her for it.” ~ SystemErrorFound

OP should talk to their daughter’s dad and try to figure out how to best help her.