USF student helping classmates access unauthorized textbook downloads to promote open source ideals

07/03/13 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:


The cost of college textbooks can add to the financial burden of being a student -- but there’s an undergraduate at USF who may be skating on legal thin ice by helping students find free electronic copies of their textbooks.

But Tristan Lear’s main motivation isn’t just to save a few hundred dollars per semester.

He says he created the Facebook page Textbook Liberation Project at USF today to help spread the word about free textbook downloads primarily to fight “publishing cartels” and to promote free access to information.

More about Aaron Swartz

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This student brings up an important issue regarding Barnes & Noble on campus. How is it that USF, a public university, can offer space to a for profit corporation and give them tens of thousands of captive customers in their own students? I think what this student is doing is not only a brave stand against this corrupt system, but also in the true spirit of education and community--what college should be about.

Free "as in freedom" textbooks are the future, but getting from here to there will be a bumpy road. Efforts like this bring attention to the issue and start people thinking and talking - and that's where it all has to start. Examples of work in progress on open textbooks can be found at and , or just search for "open textbook" for a real eye opener.

I think Tristan should be set on fire and fed to wild boars. Metaphorically.

As our big day approaches, and as my friends and family keep reminding me ... I should probably talk to an attorney so I know exactly what I can get away with. Most lawyers seem always to err on the side of paranoia ... but not the big corporate ones! They have lawyers who help them break the law! Can anyone who supports this, and thinks they might know a lawyer friend who supports this, please contact me? / 567-343-2769

Try Barry Cohen- he's definitely not afraid of ANYONE and does like the limelight. Also, he usually wins!

Remember, as soon as you figure out what classes you want to take this fall, send your list of required texts to