My class already requires two books for the lecture and one for the lab. Is it actually legal to charge $15 for the course outline, written by the professor and published by the community college. I think its unreasonable and kind of suspicious considering it could easily be uploaded to blackboard these days...at no cost and no excuse for any student not looking at the doc or powerpoint. Also, who would i need to speak to at my college concerning the matter and try to persuade for the syllabus.

  • You should have an academic adviser that is by default appointed to you. That would be a good first contact. Else the university should have an Ombudsman that can also be of help! It is indeed completely preposterous what is happening...
    – Zenon
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 0:20
  • 2
    If the document is in any form other than handwritten, (i.e. it's an electronic document), why in the world isn't the professor giving away free pdfs? This smells fishy to me.
    – Van
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 0:40
  • There are a lot of possible duplicates. I will point you to a since revised answer of mine academia.stackexchange.com/posts/15113/revisions as well as academia.stackexchange.com/questions/110454/…
    – StrongBad
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 1:37
  • @Zenon: What do you mean by "you should"? That in all universities worldwide, one has such an advisor? Or that one should find a senior academic (eg a relative) who helps You with those matters?
    – user111955
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 5:04
  • 2
    Who exactly are you paying? The professor directly in cash? Or the university bookshop? The first is suspect, the second not.
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


My view is that this would be unethical if the professor profited from sales of the notes to the students, but not otherwise. I've done this sort of thing myself, writing an extensive set of notes for an important course and having the university sell it at the cost of duplication.

The reason that it was important to do it this way was that I needed to quickly refer to the notes by page (and line) number for certain discussions. It also made it possible for students to use the printed notes as a means of keeping their own notes, by annotating the printed version. But I never "earned" anything from the sale.

While it wasn't "required" in the sense that you were forbidden to take the course if you didn't have a copy, it was essential enough and referred to often enough that the students got their money's worth.

My opinion also, is that if a professor requires a book that s/he wrote in a course, then the professor should refund to the students any net revenue that they receive from the sale. Usually a $90 textbook would yield around $5 or so to the author(s). But, if no revenue to the prof occurs, then this case doesn't apply.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .