Profits Reach Single-Figures

A new website has taken the student mantra “USBs get degrees” to a new level, with students now able to buy and sell notes for their courses online. University of Otago students Hayden Kerrisk (CEO), Mike Arthur (Programmer), and Paul Kibblewhite (Stylist) have created Studyspace, which is basically a TradeMe for study notes.

Kerrisk describes Studyspace as “an online tool where students can study together.” After a summer of programming, the website was launched in mid-February, and already has over 500 users signed up.

The most significant feature of the website is the ability to buy and sell study notes, with Studyspace taking a 10% cut of each sale. Arthur explains the process: “Users upload their notes to the website. They’re secure and private; no one can download or copy them.”

Once the user sells his notes to another person, the buyer can only view the notes in a secure PDF viewer. Accordning to Kerrisk, “Anyone selling notes doesn’t have to worry about someone buying the notes then flogging them off. You can’t copy and paste, you’d have to literally write it out.” The PDF viewer will also not allow the buyer to print off the notes. Buyers can give a rating to the notes they bought, so users can build up a reputation for providing high quality notes.

Arthur justifies the site as more than simply a way to avoid going to lectures. “Although the website started off with the goal of being a note buying and selling site, we’ve seen the website’s potential to be a more collaborative study tool for students.” Users can upload a practice question along with an answer to that question, and other users can rate the answer and provide their own answers. Kerrisk: “It’s like a study group”.

The company is still “warming up”, with many features such as Live Chat still in development. The website has so far earned a single solitary dollar, although the IRD has presumably taken a 28% cut of that windfall. At present, the website offers the practice questions facility, and the ability to buy and sell study notes.

It is unlikely Otago University will be a fan of the website, with a spokesperson commenting, “There would seem to be considerable risk for users of such sites under copyright law and from the point of view of acceptable academic practice.”

However, Arthur points out: “People already sell notes, so it’s nothing new, it’s just hitting the digital era ... A reworded article taken from other sources isn’t copyrighted.”

The Uni spokesperson continued saying, “Students resorting to sites of this kind also need to recognise that there is absolutely no guarantee as to the quality or currency of any material they might purchase or access. The University considers that a student’s academic prospects are likely to be maximised by attending lectures and taking their own notes.”
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2012.
Posted 7:07pm Sunday 1st April 2012 by Callum Fredric.