On Pearson V. Chegg And Why It Could Be A Huge Deal

Fran Forbes Pearson Chegg

Featured In: Forbes | Written by Derek Newton | Featuring Francelina M. Perdomo  |  Partner, Gallet Dreyer & Berkey, LLP 

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This past week, Pearson, a public, billion-dollar education and publishing company sued Chegg, another public, billion-dollar education company. Though calling Chegg an education company is a stretch. 

And while the outcome is unclear, experts say the suit could place Chegg and other answer-for-hire companies in prolonged legal danger.

The essence of Pearson’s legal claim is that Chegg is engaging in “massive” violation of copyrights held by Pearson because Chegg has published, and sold, answers to the tests and practice questions Pearson has in its textbooks. Pearson argues that the questions and answers belong to them and they should be able to decide when and how they are used.

If Pearson prevails, it could damage not only Chegg’s business model but the enterprises of several other companies that sell answers to academic questions written by text publishers, professors or professional licensing bodies. Those companies include illicit cheating services, file sharing companies that sell access to tests and answers, as well as the respectable tutoring and test preparation companies.

In other words, the implications of this legal challenge could extend well beyond just Pearson versus Chegg.

Given the stakes of the challenge, I asked several legal experts in the area of copyright and intellectual property law what they made of Pearson’s claims and Chegg’s possible defenses...

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