Textbook publishing giant Pearson Education has filed suit against education technology company Chegg, saying the online homework help provider infringed on its copyright by selling answers to the end-of-chapter questions in Pearson textbooks.
In the complaint, filed last week in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, Pearson argues that Chegg violated its rights by reproducing textbook questions and offering answers as part of its subscription-based online study tool, Chegg Study.
“Textbook questions are intended to be part of the learning progression,” Pearson wrote in the complaint, “Chegg’s infringement through the sale of answer sets, covering most if not all of the questions in textbooks, diminishes educators’ ability to use the textbooks.”
Chegg, which also offers textbook rental services, saw subscriber numbers grow 67 percent during the pandemic, the Financial Times reported.
The company now has more than 6 million users and an $11.1 billion market capitalization.
Pearson’s lawsuit comes after the two companies ended a business agreement earlier this year, and as Pearson launches its own textbook subscription service.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages and a court order requiring Chegg to stop using Pearson answer sets, lists 150 Pearson textbooks as examples where Chegg has provided thousands of answers to questions that were copied or paraphrased.
For one of Pearson’s bestselling titles, Campbell Biology, Chegg provides more than 700 answers, which undermines Pearson’s “momentous creative input” in researching, writing and updating the text, according to the complaint.
“Pearson and its authors devote an enormous investment of time, money, and expertise to developing the world’s best learning content, including the end of chapter questions in our textbooks,” Tim Bozik, president of Pearson’s higher education division, said in a statement. “We value that content, along with the people who create it and use it, which is why Pearson is acting to protect and preserve its assets.”
A spokesperson for Chegg declined to speak to EdWeek Market Brief, but said in a statement issued to Inside Higher Ed that the company “will fight Person’s allegations vigorously” and is in “full compliance with copyright law.”
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