The lecture trading is a common thing among the students who failed to apply for the class.
/Illustrated by Cho Moon-kyung
“The lecture is on sale!” “I want to buy a lecture!” These are examples of messages that are easy to find on popular community sites used by many universities’ students during the registeration period. The sale of the lecture is controversial on community sites since the price ranges from 50 thousand won to hundreds of thousands won. Even in a well-known community site of Dongguk University, someone posted a message, saying that he/she wants to buy a certain lecture which is highly competitive. As such, the sale of lectures has become a common situation in the university community. Also, illegal copies of copyrighted lecture materials are controversial. In universities, with the fact that many illegal acts are difficult to regulate, most people are not aware of them, and the methods to control them are not well-defined yet.
What is lecture trading?
Lecture trading is the act of selling seats in lectures to other students who want to take that class but failed to register in time and buying lecture. Students who fail to apply for class pay for transferring a course with successfully registered students and buy the lecture they want. The transfer fee for the lectures is mainly money or cultural gift certificates. These lectures are mainly graduation-required classes. This happens when students fail to apply for classes because there is no room for the classes they have to take. In other words, if a successful applicant cancels an enrollment, students who fail to sign up for the class can log on website at the same time and take the reserved lecture space.
The sale status of the lectures
Lectures are usually sold at a high price. This is usually done on anonymous community sites, making it difficult for traffickers to be detected. Selling and buying like this are not legitimate acts, as it is difficult to say that reasonable trading is taking place. However, students do not recognize that they are violating the school regulations. Furthermore, now there are many media reports that people who have an insincere intention try to preempt and sell lectures even when they are away from school. Considering these, the sale of lectures is said to be illegal since it encourages unreasonable consumption, but it has spread over universities and is not regulated well nowadays.
The difficulties of regulation
There are currently insufficient legal regulations on the sale of lectures. In other words, it is a situation that should be left to the conscience of the individual or solved by the school itself. Experts compare the practice of preoccupying and selling lectures to ticket sales for popular concerts. This is similar to ticket touting, which is a kind of ticket trading but different since the tickets are bought earlier at a lower price and then resold at a higher price later. Currently, ticket touting is illegal under the law, but it is practically impossible to punish touts. This is because, under the current law, people cannot be punished if the criminal investigators are failed to detect who had done ticket touting at the scene. Likewise, there is no current law that stipulates the sale of lectures, which is similar to the tendency of ticket touting, so it is difficult to control. Suh Kye-won, the Professor of the Law, commented “There are no explicit legal provisions yet to restrict the sale of lectures.” He added, “Under the current law, obstruction of business can be reviewed under criminal law.”
Meanwhile, the community that guarantees anonymity is also one of the reasons for the difficulty of regulation. Lecture trading is an occurence that we can find easily in communities that guarantee anonymity. Some university communities have announced that they would immediately delete postings related to lecture trading. However, during the lecture application period, there is a limit to managing all the writings. Also, it is difficult to detect people who posted it since the postings are anonymous.
People concerned about the lecture trading
Some people criticized that lecture trading is against the market logic. The supply is too little but there are a lot of demands. The goods are so rare. Thus, the buyer is irrational and a reasonable transaction cannot be made. This is against market logic because the cost of the lectures will be too high. In other words, people who sell lectures earn unfair profits because it costs a few times more than tuition.
There may be people who unnecessarily register a lecture to sell it. In result, they will earn unfair profits. Furthermore, students who have to take lectures suffer if more people reserve places with the purpose of selling not taking the class. Lim Sung-bin, the Senior of the Business of Administration of Sungshin Women’s University said, “I think the most fair way to apply for classes is to register classes in order. If trading lectures are continued then economic power will be the standard for successful application. She also added, “So, it should be banned. Just as ticket touting is illegal in practice, students should also be banned from applying for unnecessary classes.”
Meanwhile, some people are negative about the lecture selling, saying the sales process is difficult to protect. Since the buyer and seller are anonymous, they are not protected during the sale process. Kim Soo-jung, the student of Division of Food Service Industry of Baekseok Arts University said, “I have decided to sell cyber lectures, which are the high competitive lectures among students. So, I had contacted one student and planned to trade the lectures.” She criticized, “However, the other party suddenly disappeared during the process of trade since he/she could not apply for the lectures at that time when we promised to meet online.” She added, “Maybe other student may have applied for it because the trading should be instant on line.” That is, she only lost her cyber lectures and she could not get her money back. Since the trading process was anonymous, he/she could not be caught. The process was not protected at all. Besides, transactions are made anonymously, which increases the risk of fraud. In this regard, more and more people may abuse the urgency of those who want to buy lectures for crimes.
People who agree to the lecture trading
Some think students’ freedom of choice and consumption should be guaranteed. The freedom of choice must be guaranteed for students in their spending. In some cases, students want to buy classes for graduation. It can be beneficial to them even if they should pay a lot in such cases. For example, in “Everytime,” which is the community that gurantees the anonymity, there was a person who said in a post that he does not care how much he would have to pay if he could just take the lecture. This is because, it was more important to graduate than to pay a lot of money for a lecture. It can also be beneficial to both counterparts who are trading lectures if they adjust prices appropriately. In other words, if the seller needs more money and the buyer feels urgency to apply for lectures, they would trade. It is a natural result of market logic.
The direction to solve this problem
First, sanctions of lecture trading need to be prepared to prevent such a phenomenon as ticket touting. According to Professor Suh, it is a way to impose sanctions by making school regulations that punish lecture sellers and buyers. Also, the school itself needs to tighten regulations. However, even if the school rules have a punitive clause, there are no schools that have adopted strong sanctions such as “being expelled from school.”
In addition the school should try to induce students to change their perception of the lecture trading. Last August, there was a posting, which was about the ban of lecture trading on a bachelor’s notice from Sunchon National University. It stressed that students who are caught selling lectures between students could be subject to disciplinary measures and academic sanctions. As such, it is important to make students aware that the act of selling lectures is a violation of school regulations. Professor Suh commented “Also there is a way that the school sends a text message saying that the lecture trading is illegal before the enrollment period.” He said, “If so, students are encouraged to do their best at self-purification. Most of all, I think it is more important to try to change the perception of trading lectures before giving students legal sanctions.”
Meanwhile, changes in the lecture enrollment system can also be a solution. For instance, Dongguk University Gyeongju Campus introduced a delayed class quota reflection system in August to prevent the sale of lectures. The delayed class quota reflection system proceeds as follows. At the past, the class’s spare number of students was reflected immediately when the class was cancelled. Since the system was introduced, however, it will not be reflected for a certain amount of time (30 minutes) has passed after the cancellation. The system makes it difficult to keep up with the proper time so that the lecture cannot be sold.
Considering the advice of Professor Suh Kye-won, Dongguk University Seoul Campus currently has a “standby rotation system.” The standby rotation is a system in which students who wish to take courses but failed in registration can apply for classes automatically when pre-applier cancelled, according to their wait sequence upon classes. However, there is a disadvantage of not giving up on existing lectures so the rotation of classes is not working well. Furthermore, there is still a risk that existing applicants will be able to sell their classes to the waiting students. For example, giving up one’s existing lectures and handing over seats to a student who is waiting is only for money.
Also, introducing a “cross-lecture exchange system” could be one way. In fact, in the past, trading lectures became a problem because they were too expensive than their value. To solve this problem, it is also possible to exchange two classes. In practice, in the case of Konyang University, the community page has set the stage for the exchange of lectures. It is not a big problem in terms of profit or loss since the value of the goods is same, so it can also prevent crimes that abuse it. It is also beneficial for those who exchange lectures because they can take each classes that they want.
There are copies of textbooks which are not confirmed on whether they are legal or not in the copy room. The students use printers frequently to get copies easily.
/Photograph by Lee Da-young
Illegal copying is prevalent in universities
Students can easily get copies of their lecture materials near the university, since almost every printing shop near the university offers them. Furthermore, some departments make a sufficient amount of copies of major textbooks in advance. This is not all. Nowadays, a number of students taking lectures with laptops or tablet PCs use scanned versions or PDF files of lecture materials, and the number of these kinds of students is increasing. The PDF files are ranked first, which means students download this file without knowing that this is an illegal act or serious problem. Lee Geon-ho, the Junior of Department of Safety Engineering of Seoul National University of Science and Technology said, “I can easily find a lot of students who use copies of textbook.” He added, “Students who use laptops for class usually see PDF files of lecture materials. This is a common phenomenon.”
Then, why do students copy a textbook instead of buying one? First, the lecture materials are too expensive for students to afford. Especially, students of the College of Natural Sciences or Engineering may have to pay more money to buy the materials. In this situation, students turn to illegal copying, which is much cheaper. Also, it is hard to get secondhand books that can be bought relatively cheaply, since the supply is far short compared to the demand. By contrast, copying does not have a problem of supply in that it is infinite and is readily available.
Furthermore, students have a low awareness of copyright. They do not consider copyright seriously. According to the Korean Copyright Protection Agency’s survey of 3 thousand college students, 76.3 percent of them said that they use illegal copies even though they are aware of the possibility of violating copyright. That is, they recognize that this is prohibited by law. However they do not recognize that this is a serious matter that must be prohibited.
Government and other organizations are trying to solve these problems
Then, since illegally copying is illegal, the government should come forward and regulate it. In effect, last March, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism made a special crackdown team with special judicial police and field survey team of the Korean Copyright Protection Agency. They cracked down on the printing houses around the university districts. They not only cracked down on the distribution business of illegal copies but also investigated the original distributors. An illegal copy contact number is also being operated to respond to copyright infringement immediately and to encourage people’s voluntary participation.
The Korean Academy Publishing Association, the Korean Council for University Education and other organizations worked together to improve people’s awareness of copyright. They made banners and posters to eradicate illegal copying and attached them to 450 universities nationwide. In addition, they distributed notices to students of 50 universities nationwide to eradicate illegal copying.
As such, many organizations and governments are trying to solve the problem of illegal copying in terms of regulation and improvement of awareness of copyright. However, although it started in March, social changes in illegal copying are represented only a little. Also, we can still easily find illegal copying or PDF files in the classroom.
Why is it difficult to improve awareness?
Although there were some efforts to prevent illegal copies, classrooms are still full of pirated materials. The reason is similar to the reason of illegal copying. As mentioned above, the regular price of the textbook is expensive for students to pay. Even if illegal copying is subject to regulations, students cannot give it up. Changes in the media also play a part in this. Illegal copying of textbooks is relatively simple to tackle through the regulation of printing houses, but distribution and scanning of PDF files through the Internet is difficult to regulate. Considering the rapid spread of information on the Internet, the PDF files can also be transmitted easily and rapidly, which is in fact too difficult to regulate.
Most of all, many students do not regard this as a serious problem. That is, the social atmosphere does not take this seriously. Since copying is so prevalent and easy to see, it is hard to see it as a problem. In this way, the cycle of evil continues.
People’s opinions about copying textbooks are divided
There are some students who claim that copying textbooks is inevitable. Lee Geon-ho said, “In case of our department, the major textbook is so expensive that I often cannot afford. What is more, the book is quite thick but we do not deal with every content of book. I think buying textbook is waste of money.” He also said, “We know buying a book instead of copying is the right way, but I think there should be some solution on this problem. Until the time it would be solved, it is inevitable for lots of students to use copies.”
On the other hand, some students have the opinion that copying textbooks should never be done. Lee Su-bin, the Freshman of Department of Business Administration of Sungshin Women's University, said “To be honest, using copies of lecture textbook is convenient and much cheaper than using a real book. However, we must keep the copyright.” She added, “I want people to know that the use of ‘illegal copies’ is literally illegal.”
There should be a solution other than regulation
There has been a clear move since last March to address illegal copying. However, a fundamental solution to the problem was missed. Professor Suh Kye-won said, “In the case of illegal copying, it is necessary to improve the awareness of copyright in publishing through various methods such as public service advertisement. Also, I think it is necessary to improve the system related to publishing business through transparency of distribution process, strengthened legal punishment, and technological development.” He also added, “At the university level, education regarding illegal copying is needed once or twice a semester, and rather than imposing sanctions on students, professors need to impose strict copyright laws on students in class.”
It is the students’ fault to sell lectures and copy textbooks. However, if there is a solution to the cause, there will be fewer illegal copies and less lecture trading. Professor Suh Kye-won said “I think it must be good for students council to promote public service advertisement directly to students so that in the long run everyone does not join illegal acts.” Therefore, students have to recognize that these are problems and should make efforts to solve them.
Cho Moon-kyung, Lee Da-young firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
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