Harvard Bookstore Claims Book Prices Are Copyrighted

from the you-can-claim-it,-doesn't-mean-it's-true dept

A few years ago, we had a story about a store that was kicking people out if they caught them comparison shopping via a mobile device. Obviously, a store can kick out anyone they want to, but perhaps a better approach is to actually focus on better serving the customer so that when they're done comparison shopping, they still want to buy from you (either because you have the best price, or you offer some additional convenience or service they can't get elsewhere). This issue seems to be coming up again, but with a new twist. alex writes in to let us know that the bookstore at Harvard is kicking people out for taking too many notes about pricing (via Boing Boing). When confronted about this, the store's president actually claimed that book prices were the store's "intellectual property." Of course, just because you say something is your intellectual property, it doesn't mean it is. Unfortunately for the bookstore, the law is pretty clear that you can't copyright facts -- and whether the bookstore likes it or not, prices are facts. The store certainly has the right to refuse service to anyone, but that doesn't mean that it's smart for business or that copying down prices infringes on any kind of intellectual property. Update: To clarify, there are apparently a few different bookstores at Harvard. This particular one is the Harvard Coop, run by Barnes & Noble and the University. There is another bookstore, called The Harvard Book Store that is independent and has nothing to do with this story.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 9:01pm

    Not quite

    Obviously, a store can kick out anyone they want to...

    If you mean legally, that's not quite true, at least not in the US. There are several reasons for which it is illegal to kick someone out. For instance, a store cannot decide who it wants to do business with on the basis of race.

     

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  2.  
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    elduderino, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 9:26pm

    For instance, a store cannot decide who it wants to do business with on the basis of race.

    oh sure, but prove thats why they kicked someone out..

    you can pretty much throw someone out for any reason under the sun as long as you don't show a habit of discrimination based on race creed sex or religion...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 9:47pm

    Really?

    It has been a while since I've brushed up on laws and regulations. I'm fairly certain there are some out there requiring fair medical/housing/employment/education and the like. But when it comes to a business choosing its clientele, I did not know any such law existed.

    Given it would be a poor business practice to deny service to say people under the age of 30. Or maybe the uppity stores on Rodeo DR not selling to anyone with an income of less then six/seven figures, but isn't that their freedom too?

    As for comparison shopping, I use to work for a national department store (Target), my job was to take a palm pilot to the other department stores (Walmart/Kmart) and get all their prices. I knew if I was caught they would throw me out. They knew if we caught their "shoppers" they would be thrown out. As far as I know this practice is still in effect.

     

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  4.  
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    QHartman (profile), Sep 19th, 2007 @ 10:01pm

    Re: Not quite

    While your statement is technically true, someone with the creativity and desire could come up with a number of plausible justifications if needed.

    But more to the point, stores don't need a reason. They are private property, and the owners / authorized agents of the owner can decide at any time that someone needs to leave, for no reason at all. That is why you will often see signs posted in stores stating that "This establishment reserves the right to refuse service to anyone". Those signs aren't really necessary legally, but they make court visits go more quickly. Sure it's bad for business, but it's not illegal by any means. As long as you are smart enough to not specify your reasoning, there's nothing that the other person can do, other than drain resources by forcing one to fight unprovable claims in court.

    Furthermore, I don't know of any federal anti-discrimination law that applies to commerce. As far I know, those only (and originally) apply to employment, and then were extended to education somewhat. A quick google just now also did not turn up anything to support the idea that refusing to do business with someone because of their race is illegal...

     

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    A Textbook Seller, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 10:16pm

    This will backfire

    There is almost zero chance that you can't get the ISBN from your syllabus or professor. Check the prices at any number of comparison sites like bookcost.com or mine :) and take your notes in with you.

    Or, just realize the campus bookstore is hostile toward students trying to save money and boycott them altogether. Except for local packets and professor-produced textbooks, there is almost nothing unavailable online somewhere cheaper.

     

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  6.  
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    Sarai, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 10:29pm

    Re: Really?

    Given it would be a poor business practice to deny service to say people under the age of 30. Or maybe the uppity stores on Rodeo DR not selling to anyone with an income of less then six/seven figures, but isn't that their freedom too?

    I read once in the LA Times about a clothing store on Rodeo Drive that would send a limo to your house to pick you up, but that was only after they pulled your credit report, to make sure you could actually afford the clothes they were selling.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 10:54pm

    Re: Re: Not quite

    But more to the point, stores don't need a reason. They are private property, and the owners / authorized agents of the owner can decide at any time that someone needs to leave, for no reason at all.

    Good luck trying to convince a court that you had no reason.

    That is why you will often see signs posted in stores stating that "This establishment reserves the right to refuse service to anyone".

    As far as I know, such signs are usually posted by self-important proprietors to try to intimidate people and make themselves feel important and carry no legal weight what so ever.

    As long as you are smart enough to not specify your reasoning, there's nothing that the other person can do, other than drain resources by forcing one to fight unprovable claims in court.

    Not true. Many discrimination cases have been brought on the basis of behavior and patterns despite the defendants verbal denials. The laws against discrimination outlaw the discriminatory act whether the actor admits to it or not.

    Furthermore, I don't know of any federal anti-discrimination law that applies to commerce. As far I know, those only (and originally) apply to employment, and then were extended to education somewhat. A quick google just now also did not turn up anything to support the idea that refusing to do business with someone because of their race is illegal...

    Wow. That would make it perfectly legal for bus companies to make blacks ride in the back. I think you're somehow stuck in some kind of 1950's time warp. If you want to Google, then try "Rosa Parks".

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 10:59pm

    Re:

    you can pretty much throw someone out for any reason under the sun as long as you don't show a habit of discrimination based on race creed sex or religion...
    Or handicap, etc. That's not exactly just "anyone", now is it?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 11:03pm

    Re: Really?

    As for comparison shopping, I use to work for a national department store (Target), my job was to take a palm pilot to the other department stores (Walmart/Kmart) and get all their prices. I knew if I was caught they would throw me out. They knew if we caught their "shoppers" they would be thrown out. As far as I know this practice is still in effect.
    My local Walmart has a sign up stating that such activities are not allowed on their property. So, if they then caught you doing that on their property couldn't they prosecute you for criminal trespass?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 11:36pm

    Re: Really?

    It has been a while since I've brushed up on laws and regulations. I'm fairly certain there are some out there requiring fair medical/housing/employment/education and the like. But when it comes to a business choosing its clientele, I did not know any such law existed.
    So you're saying medical/housing/employment/education aren't businesses? A lot of businesses have spent a lot of money becoming ADA compliant. You mean all they had to do was put up a "Cripples Not Welcome" sign? You're right, I think it has been a long time since you checked out the laws.

     

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  11.  
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    Aquakingman, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 11:45pm

    I did that

    For the book I need for school I went to the schools bookstore and wrote down the prices of the books I need. Then I went online to search for prices and how much. One of the books I looked up I found for 50 bucks and it was 124 dollars brand new with a used sticker(that wasn't in anyways) 78 dollars. Only a retard would spend full price when you can get it more than half off online. I also bought some books from the store because they had the better price so what if the store isn't making money. Only if I could pay half for tuition prices

     

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  12.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Sep 19th, 2007 @ 11:55pm

    They weren't kicking people out!

    Interesting how you can link to your previous item and claim it was a report about "kicking people out" when in fact you had to back down from that original claim. The original item clearly ends with the admission:

    Update: Alan Reiter has updated the post, following a conversation with execs at Dick's Sporting Goods who claim they have no such policy in place. It's unclear if the reporter jumped to conclusions, though it is completely possible.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 12:10am

    From the you-can-claim-it,-doesn't-mean-it's-true

    The store certainly has the right to refuse service to anyone,

    Is that another one from the you-can-claim-it,-doesn't-mean-it's-true dept? Its a dangerous claim that has caused many problems historically.

    How about "A store can prohibit almost any behavior on it's premises" instead? I say "almost" because even that probably has limits.

     

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    Mike (profile), Sep 20th, 2007 @ 12:15am

    Re: They weren't kicking people out!

    Interesting how you can link to your previous item and claim it was a report about "kicking people out" when in fact you had to back down from that original claim.

    The original story was based on what a single store had started doing. The update was that the corporate parent later said that there was no corporate policy towards doing that.

     

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  15.  
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    Spartacus, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    Refusing Service

    QHartman is quite correct.
    The laws that restrict businesses from refusing service to people of race/religion/sex/handicap apply only to businesses that receive federal funds in one way or another. If your business touches federal money in any way those laws apply to you and you are liable to get sued if someone knows what they are doing when they get refused service.
    If you are a private business owner on your private land you do have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. If you are a private business owner on your own private land you can put up signs that say "No Niggers or Fags or 'Dirga Dirgas' allowed" and the law can't do a thing about it. Of course you will probably get rocks through your windows every day but it's completely within your right to do so.
    There is a major law of note that does not allow just ANY private business to do the above. If your business would fall under the category of providing "public accommodation" then you MAY NOT discriminate based on race, color, religion or natural origin. The Civil Rights Act of 1963 explicitly protects those categories. Any restaurant falls under this category, things like private clubs do not. Even if a restaurant is a private business on private property it is sill considered a place of "public accommodation" and therefore falls under the restrictions of the Civil Rights Act of 1963.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:43am

    Re: Refusing Service

    QHartman is quite correct.
    No, he isn't and neither are you.

    If you are a private business owner on your private land you do have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason.
    Not if you're dealing with the public. See US Code TITLE 42. Being on private land doesn't put one above the law either.

    There is a major law of note that does not allow just ANY private business to do the above. If your business would fall under the category of providing "public accommodation" then you MAY NOT discriminate based on race, color, religion or natural origin.
    Uh huh. The discussion was of "stores" in general, not private clubs or homes. US Code TITLE 42 > CHAPTER 126 > SUBCHAPTER III > § 12181 specifically includes "a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment" as "public accommodations". That pretty much covers "stores", doesn't it? Clear enough?

     

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  17.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 3:30am

    Re: Re:

    Ok so you send out a small army of minority student price checkers and get the whole bookstores prices. If any get thrown out have them raise a big a stink as possible by claiming it was racially motivated. Make sure you get film.

     

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  18.  
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    Townie, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:43am

    Anything Related To Harvard......

    causes a stink in all of Cambridge. The school is a huge polluter of culture and the city has suffered because of it.

    Harvard's motto: "Do as I say, not as I do"

     

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  19.  
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    comboman, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Really?

    My local Walmart has a sign up stating that such activities are not allowed on their property. So, if they then caught you doing that on their property couldn't they prosecute you for criminal trespass?

    Only if you refused to leave when they asked you to.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re: Refusing Service

    Wouldn't a bookstore on campus that's for students enrolled at the college pretty much be private? you have to be a "member" of the college.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:53am

    This whole discussion is ridiculous, businesses really can ask you to leave for any reason as long as they're not being discriminatory, as long as they don't make it obvious when they're asking you to leave or make any discriminatory remarks, what are you gonna do about it? you don't have any proof you were discriminated against, and guess what if they ask you to leave and you refuse, you are now trespassing and they can have you arrested, so all you liberal, civil rights nazi's can just shut up. This is exactly what's wrong with this coutry, everyone thinks they have a right to put their nose in someone elses business to tell them what to do. Shut up mind your business and take care of yourself, if you don't like the way a particular store or chain treats you, guess what, don't shop their, bad mouth them to ppl you know, don't force them to change their policies, you're just wasting their time your time and the courts time, oh yeah and you're wasting my tax money!!!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    fine then

    I claim both zero and one are my IP. Everyone here better pay up!

     

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  23.  
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    brwyatt, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:27am

    Wait, what?

    Look at the barcode on almost ANY book/magazine (I'm referring to the one printed on the book, no any stickers etc). See the pice there? Isn't that put there by the publisher? And wouldn't that mean that it is (if anything) the IP of the PUBLISHER, not the RETAILER? So now, couldn't the publishers sue the bookstore for stealing their IP while the bookstore is harassing its customers? Publisher v. Store v. Customer. Looks to me like customers will stop going to the bookstore, and the store will stop selling the books from the publisher who is suing... what a mess... No one seems to care about customer service nemore... hell, good customer service might make an extra $1 on the price worth it... but they will never learn...

     

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  24.  
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    Jon, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:34am

    Hey You People Guessing About Legal Things

    It in fact is illegal to refuse service by discrimination. Of course this is difficult to prove, but it is still illegal. Look up the gosh darn Federal Civil Rights Act.

    SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin."

    Public accommodations are defined as:

    (1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence; (2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station; (3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment; and (4) any establishment (A)(i) which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or (ii) within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and (B) which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment.

    And to answer this:

    My local Walmart has a sign up stating that such activities are not allowed on their property.So, if they then caught you doing that on their property couldn't they prosecute you for criminal trespass?

    No. And you are crazy if you think Wal-Mart doesn't engage in the same practices. All they can do is give you the boot. If you refuse to leave that's another story.

     

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  25.  
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    Vincent Clement, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:42am

    Serving Customers vs Controlling Customers

    At a local pet store, my wife and I were asked to not write down prices. We promptly left and have not spent a single penny in that store. That's a lot of business to lose over 10 years. The funny thing is that I have seen employees from that local pet store jotting down prices at the big chain stores.

    When will businesses realize that they are in the business of serving customers not controlling customers?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Really?

    Only if you refused to leave when they asked you to.

    That's the purpose of the sign, to give notice that you are not welcome there if you do that. No further notice is need at that point. The same as if you got caught on property with posted no-trespassing signs, they don't have to then ask you to leave in addition to the signs before pressing charges. At least in my state anyway.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Refusing Service

    Wouldn't a bookstore on campus that's for students enrolled at the college pretty much be private? you have to be a "member" of the college.
    I doubt it. But another paragraph specifically includes places of education anyway.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    This whole discussion is ridiculous, businesses really can ask you to leave for any reason as long as they're not being discriminatory,
    That's pretty far from anybody, any reason, anytime.

    all you liberal, civil rights nazi's can just shut up.
    Spoken like a true bigot.

     

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  29.  
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    Strofcon, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    Re: Re:

    It doesn't matter. His point is not that you can throw people out based on any handicap they may have, but rather that you can throw out any handicapped person in the world, so long as you never state that your reason for throwing them out was based on the fact that they were handicapped. Make sense? I know I didn't explain that the best, but I have to go to work.

    Take care.

     

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  30.  
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    BTR1701, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 5:56am

    Re: This will backfire

    > There is almost zero chance that you
    > can't get the ISBN from your syllabus
    > or professor.

    Or from Amazon. All you need is the title and author and look it up on Amazon. They provide ISBNs in their listings.

     

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  31.  
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    RandomThoughts, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:00am

    Don't you read the papers? Denny's just paid a big fine for not serving blacks. Some airline is in hot water for having a problem with Muslims that wanted to pray on the flight.

    Its the same with employment law, sure, a lot of people are employed under at will provisions, but does that stop people from taking shots at companies and winning?

     

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  32.  
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    BTR1701, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:04am

    Re: Refusing Service

    > The laws that restrict businesses from
    > refusing service to people of race/religion/
    > sex/handicap apply only to businesses that
    > receive federal funds in one way or another.
    > If your business touches federal money in any
    > way those laws apply to you

    No, that's the test for applying antidiscrimination laws to colleges and universities. The test for a commercial business is whether its business affects interstate commerce or not. And since the Supreme Court essentially ruled in the New Deal era case Wickard v. Filburn that a person's mere existence affects interstate commerce, there's virtually no way one could run a business and not meet that standard in today's world. The end result is that antidiscrimination laws apply to *all* businesses.

     

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  33.  
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    Doc Harvardgrad, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:09am

    Harvard Bookstore? I don't think so.

    Harvard doesn't HAVE a bookstore. There are numerous bookstores in Harvard Square though, and students can shop for books at any of them. One of these stores is the "Harvard Coop" which from their webpage you will find is a STUDENT run business, the Harvard/MIT Cooperative, founded in 1882. If this is indeed the business that this poorly written story is about, then the student complaint is about policies created by other students.

     

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  34.  
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    Dennis, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:13am

    Re: This will backfire

    To get around any complaints from the local school book store I buy my books in advance just to get the ISBN number, search the various discount sites for the best price and then return the book to my school bookstore.

     

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  35.  
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    Overcast, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:34am

    Obviously, if they 'fear' comparison shopping, there must be a reason. I suspect that reason is because they aren't competitive - which is typical for a college bookstore, at least on textbooks, in any event.

    Best bet is to just not shop there at all - Problem solved.

     

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  36.  
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    Meoip, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:43am

    Crazy

    Let me get this straight this guy in order to make money kicked potential customers out guarteing that they wouldn't buy any books from him?

    As for prices being facts the way these things change they are more philosophies. I buy a book at $50 3 months later it's worth $5.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:56am

    >> oh yeah and you're wasting my tax money!!!

    Isn't he wasting my tax money when the fire department has to put out his building when it's on fire because of his discrimation or when we maintain the road leading to his business or when he calls the police when someone broke in his store? If on the other hand his store was on the center of his property without public access and he signed a letter saying that he would use no police, ems, fire social service, etc, and his store was open to invitation only customers, then I wouldn't have a problem with him doing what he wishes. Otherwise, he is using my tax money to discriminate.

    What bigots don't understand is that laws like these protect ALL of us by having a country that is livable. Go ask anyone in the middle east or elsewhere that has discrimination as its norm and see how much easier it is to live in their world.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    I guess it's easier to just call people bigots and be done with it than to come up with a valid argument

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re:

    TRUE freedom is giving somebody the freedom to discriminate, to hate, to love, to be free. Everybody claims to be for equal rights here, but only if it's the rights they "approve". The KKK, the NAACP, ACLU, all have a right and freedom to believe what they want to believe, that's what this country was founded on, freedom from oppression. Everybody wants to oppress everyone else until they all fall into the social "norm". well that's not freedom folks.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 7:13am

    Re: Harvard Bookstore? I don't think so.

    "Harvard doesn't HAVE a bookstore."

    The Coop is run by BARNES & NOBLE

     

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  41.  
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    Danny, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:19am

    We all know...

    that college bookstores that are on campus are as much of a scam as the college tution itself. When you pay almost $100 for a new book for your math course and at the end of the semester the bookstore will not buy it back at all (not even the mesaly $5 you were expecting) because "a new edition is being released for next semester" that is a rip off.


    How much could the discipline of mathematics have changed in 4 months? Most of these "new editions" are literally nothing more than the chapters being put in a new order, sample questions being changed, and new cover art.

    After my second year I found an Edward McKay across town and never set foot in my campus bookstore again for textbooks. The problem is now that students have wised up and start shopping around for the best price campus bookstores are scared of the competition. This is copyright nonsense is just a smokescreen meant to add some legal weight to their own store policy of writing down prices.

    Now let me ask this: Can't you get in legal trouble for claiming a false copyright? Not only do they not have said copyright but such a copyright does not exist.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    It doesn't matter. His point is not that you can throw people out based on any handicap they may have, but rather that you can throw out any handicapped person in the world, so long as you never state that your reason for throwing them out was based on the fact that they were handicapped.

    Not really, if a clear pattern can be established that's all you need. By kicking out *every* disabled person that comes into a store a pattern would be established. Discrimination can be either explicit or implicit, in either case it is actionable.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 9:02am

    >> Obviously, if they 'fear' comparison shopping, there must be a reason..

    And just think if "internet" stores played that kind of game. They would be decreasing in importance instead of gaining.

    While brick and mortar business are losing business it's NOT just because of price, but also because of better customer service. Online stores are offering two way shipping, free shipping on returns, etc.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 9:19am

    >> TRUE freedom

    We were never promised (and most of us would never want) "TRUE freedom" or maybe a better term is "total freedom", because your freedom stops when it interferes with mine.

    The store owner that discriminates against teenagers wants his freedom to do so, but he wants to take away the freedom of a mob of teenagers from taking what they want from his store for free and leaving him dead.

    So whose freedom is more important? Sure, we can allow people the "freedom" to discriminate based on race, but do we give that race the same freedom to riot and burn buildings?

    Society is rules and concepts that by nature restrict certain "freedoms" in order to have order and better livability for all.

    I would like the freedom to not work and steal for a living, but society in its wisdom as determined that stealing is not a “freedom” that we should uphold. For most people the same can be said for discrimination, otherwise we wouldn’t have laws against it.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Earguy, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 9:52am

    These are supposed to be smart kids, right?

    Portable voice recorders.
    Talking on your cell phone to a friend at home with a notepad.
    Cell phone cameras.
    Letter/number substitution cipher.

    These are Harvard kids and they can't figure it out?

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    elduderino, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:01am

    wow so I wonder if I can kick a chick out of my store for breast feeding, since that activity would be expressly prohibited on my private property?

    seriously I think we've gotten off topic

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:11am

    Re: These are supposed to be smart kids, right?

    I'm sure they can but is secrecy really necessary just because bookstores are now trying to prevent people from comparing prices?

    These shops just want people to blindly believe they have the best value for the goods in question.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:14am

    >> These are supposed to be smart kids, right?

    No these are not supposed to be smart kids, they are mostly rich kids that there family get in. When you see the list of who graduated from there and Yale, smart isn't the first word that comes to mind.

    They sprinkle in enough smart kids to help keep the scores up, but they are not the majority.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    PeriWInkle, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:18am

    The law school annex has no such policy, or at least they don't enforce it. Every semester I take a few trips there, and usually take pictures of the ISBNs from my camera phone. And no, it isn't always possible to get the information - even the title and author- in some other way. Only about half of professors list that information on class websites, and the only other option is tracking them down a week before classes begin (or several weeks, if you plan to buy from an e-retailer)

    The odd thing is that the profits are divided up among all the members - who are students and alumni of Harvard and MIT. I wonder how much money I am losing for this policy?:)

    But the bookstore itself is not private. In fact, it is teeming with tourists, albeit they don't often venture onto that floor.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:33am

    Coop, not Bookstore

    This happened at the Harvard Coop, not the Harvard Bookstore. The latter, though it stands across the street from the main campus, is not affiliated with the University (except perhaps in licensing the name). The Harvard Bookstore is enormously well-liked by the local reading community, and is one of the more customer-friendly businesses around. It's one of the few things I miss about living in Boston :-)

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Ben Strom, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 10:47am

    At my school (California state university northridge) the bookstore puts thier own stickers over the book isbn numbers and then shrinkwraps (most) of them. this can be a huge pain in the ass since i try to buy used from amazon. whats worse is when i peel a sticker off to write down the isbn number and am told that i am not allowed.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Wade, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    >>No these are not supposed to be smart kids, they are mostly rich kids that there family get in. When you see the list of who graduated from there and Yale, smart isn't the first word that comes to mind.

    Sorry you did not enjoy your time at Brown.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Not quite

    Tell that to the people of Denny's.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 12:40pm

    >>Sorry you did not enjoy your time at Brown.


    At least Brown can play football, but then again they are playing against daddy's boys in an "ivy (how sweet) league".

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    hillary, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:06pm

    trespasing

    This is an interesting topic. Here at UVA we have a company that gives out "trespass" letters to anybody it doesn't like at the local mall. That means from that point you will be arrested. This IS defacto discrimination because you are then barred from all of the restuarants (public accomodation statute)and potential jobs from 100 stores. It goes expotential when you can't get a job at a chain because you could be asked to transfer to the store in that mall and they ask you if there are any reasons why you can't work for them on the application. The trespass order was never ajudicated by law and is just at the whim of the asshole security guard who thinks you talk too loud.

    Where are my civil rights in thsi case???

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Michael W., Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Whoa

    And I thought it was bad when the University of Houston bookstore (which is operated via a partnership w/ Barnes & Nobles) didn't offer the ISBNs of books on its website!!

    This is pretty outrageous. Campus bookstores (both university-affiliated and off-campus varieties) charge students more than they would pay if they were to find their books online. As this practice continues, more will seek their textbooks online.

    If the brick-and-mortar bookstores want to remain competitive, they will have to adapt and hopefully lower their prices in the process.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:18pm

    Re:

    Obviously, if they 'fear' comparison shopping, there must be a reason. I suspect that reason is because they aren't competitive...
    If you don't want to compete, isn't that what govt protection is for?

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    TRUE freedom is giving somebody the freedom to discriminate, to hate, to love, to be free. Everybody claims to be for equal rights here, but only if it's the rights they "approve". The KKK, the NAACP, ACLU, all have a right and freedom to believe what they want to believe, that's what this country was founded on, freedom from oppression. Everybody wants to oppress everyone else until they all fall into the social "norm". well that's not freedom folks.
    You're confusing thoughts with actions. Having the freedom to think whatever you want about somebody in one thing. DOING whatever you want to them is another. Confusing the two is a very dangerous thing.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 1:31pm

    "Unfortunately for the bookstore, the law is pretty clear that you can't copyright facts -- and whether the bookstore likes it or not, prices are facts"

    The Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals aren't quite on board with that statement. CCC Info. Servs., Inc. v. Maclean Hunter Mkt. Reports, 44 F.3d 61 (2d Cir. 1994); CDN Inc. v. Kapes, 197 F.3d 1256 (9th Cir. 1999).

    Then again, who expects journalists to know anything about the law?

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    Then again, who expects journalists to know anything about the law?

    Or anonymous cowards?

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    ME, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 3:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not quite

    Actually I think you are allowed to refuse business to anyone for any reason if it is a private business. That is your right. No one can force you to sell something to someone if you don't want to for any reason.

    "Wow. That would make it perfectly legal for bus companies to make blacks ride in the back."

    As far as the bus thing goes. Thats a public service... Big difference. If you opened a private shop however and at any given point wanted to throw someone out just for the fun of it... legally you could.

    "As far as I know, such signs are usually posted by self-important proprietors to try to intimidate people and make themselves feel important and carry no legal weight what so ever."

    As far as those signs go.. true they may not legally hold alot of weight, but the mere fact that it is there is like a warning label. It lets the customer being thrown out know they can do it. Like the previous poster mentioned, the point is to avoid them taking a frivilous lawsuit to court letting them know up front that they can legally kick you out.

    "Not true. Many discrimination cases have been brought on the basis of behavior and patterns despite the defendants verbal denials. The laws against discrimination outlaw the discriminatory act whether the actor admits to it or not."

    The previosu poster was saying if you did it once. Yes if you make a habit of doing it and form a pattern they can link to discriminating against a specific, sex, race, religion etc... you could make a case but that is very hard to do and if you never specify your reason you can always concoct one that makes it seem like you had legitimate reason for doing it....again I believe that is all tied to employement, as far as business goes even if you can make a pattern out of it... it is the right of the private business owner to run their business as they see fit... even if its morally (but not legally) discriminitory

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    me, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Not quite

    i find it unaceptible that no one has quoted the soup nazi.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    bob, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:41pm

    The best solution would be for a Harvard student to start a website for the ISBN's and prices.

    Info could be submitted by anyone, say last-years students or this years. Such info could include course name, instructor, book title, ISBN, author, store purchased from, price, date.

    Hell, a simple Access database (or an open-source SQL database) would be plenty, and easy to implement.

    Plus it would be GREAT to make such a statement to the powers-that-be at the publishing companies who are screwing students.

    Additionally, they could publish cross-references for the editions. So when the 5th edition of the Calc book has moved chapter 3 to chapter 8, you could still use the previous edition.

    What a nice solution without being adversarial. And since no profit is generated, it certainly would reduce whatever the legal implications would be (there may be some regarding chapter cross-referencing).

    Now if this info is submitted as a paper every semester and becomes part of the libraries holdings, then publishing it on the web may be less legally problematic...

    Thoughts anyone?

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    stainpouch, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 4:46pm

    intellectual price property

    This reeks of COOP. The COOP reeks--in addition it's a third-rate bookstore. HU will tell us we can't check Yale prices. Download your reading--see if the COOP can compete with Project Gutenberg.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    stainpouch, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 6:35pm

    Re: bob's solution

    This is a good idea, but if HU is like many other universities, it has entered into a proprietary agreement with a bookstore (in this case, perhaps, COOP [i.e. Barnes & Noble]) that requires faculty to submit orders through them. Good for the university (who profits, no doubt) and even better for the bookstores. This is the case at the university where I teach.

    In our case, however, this all went along swimmingly for the bookstore until they became fat and incompetent and thereby failed to order enough books (perhaps out of fear of losing money). Many of us rebelled (I went so far as to place a letter in my faculty file outlining in great detail how the bookstore had messed up my classes) and so far there have been no repercussions--but that's not to say there won't be any.

    Whenever possible, I prefer to have mys students send a few bucks to Project Gutenberg (or some similar [shrinking] organization. If W W Norton (for example) thinks that they can continuously drop a paragraph, call it a new edition, give nothing for returning volumes and double the price the next soon-to-be worthless edition and do it for years and generations on end, this is about the only way one can fight back.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    qzilla, Sep 20th, 2007 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Refusing Service

    I bought a sweatshirt from UCB at their store on campus. I am not a student and they sold it to me with no ID.

    qz

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    OJ Homer Simpson, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:29am

    Refusing services

    plenty of golf etc clubs refuse admission on gender grounds. As do many public lavatories. So do almost all US Olympic teams. What's the difference?

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    D, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 7:18am

    So, now your gonna make them mad

    Let's take a walk using the Way Back Machine. So mp3's are relatively new, and the only people who really paid any attention to them at first, were, yes college students. Oh yeah, there is all that pesky copyright stuff, but who cares. Free tunes!! Yeah yeah, they were told not to do it, electronically blocked from doing it, litigated against for doing it, guess what. They are still doing it.

    Now what makes university/college book stores think, even for a second (many of which I will point out have strong liberal leanings and there usually support consumers rights), that they are going to stop, or should stop the students from comparison shopping. All they are doing is emboldening them. And that's the current state. So if we climb in the Way Forward Machine when electronic text books finally come on to the scene in full force, the students smugly strip out the DRM, get all their texts for free and call it payback. Nice. Way to go progressive forward thinking institutions of higher learning.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 8:20am

    Re: Not quite

    f you mean legally, that's not quite true, at least not in the US.

    It's not quite false either. There's a big misunderstanding in the US that discrimination is illegal in the US. It is in fact, not illegal all the time.

    You can have a private members only business and you can discriminate all you want for whatever dumb reason you want(see private golf clubs etc). You just can't be a business that serves the public and then discrimnate on the basis of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation(some times).

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    I, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Not quite

    Wow. That would make it perfectly legal for bus companies to make blacks ride in the back. I think you're somehow stuck in some kind of 1950's time warp. If you want to Google, then try "Rosa Parks". Public transit and private business are two different things. Check out this link about a Huston landscaping company that refuses to work for gay clients. Apparently it's legal. http://www.click2houston.com/news/10124161/detail.html

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Danny, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 1:02pm

    Criminal vs. Civil

    I'm not sure how to interpret this but notice that in most situations where someone feels they have been denied service because of race, gender, sexual orientaion or whatever they aren't running to the cops to have them arrested for breaking a law, they run to a courtroom to sue them.

    It seems to may (and I may be wrong) that people go to court and not the cops becuase it is a civil not criminal matter

    I've heard of businesses and reputations being ruined because they denined service its not too often (if ever) you hear about a resturaunt owner being sent to prison for refusing to serve gays or something like that.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not quite

    As far as the bus thing goes. Thats a public service... Big difference.
    If by by "public service" you mean govt. owned, let me enlightened you that many buses are operated by private companies. If by "public service" you mean open to the public, well you've just described the typical store.

    The previosu poster was saying if you did it once.
    Actually, the previous poster said no such thing. Now you're just plain lying so there's really not much point in talking or listening to you any more. In fact, you're whole argument boils down to claiming that you can get away with discrimination by lying about it. That's not surprising coming from a liar.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 3:00pm

    Re:

    The Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals aren't quite on board with that statement. CCC Info. Servs., Inc. v. Maclean Hunter Mkt. Reports, 44 F.3d 61 (2d Cir. 1994); CDN Inc. v. Kapes, 197 F.3d 1256 (9th Cir. 1999).

    Then again, who expects journalists to know anything about the law?
    Apparently more than you do. Neither of those cases say that you can copyright facts. In those cases, the courts ruled that the analysis or particular compilation of facts can be copyrighted, but not the facts themselves. Nice try, troll.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    lazere, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 4:43pm

    kick them out if you want

    we been kicking white guys outa the club years but not the girls or brothers aint no law on who you dont like at the club

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Unrepentant Harlequin, Sep 21st, 2007 @ 9:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Refusing Service

    Wouldn't a bookstore on campus that's for students enrolled at the college pretty much be private? you have to be a "member" of the college.

    Even if that was true (and it isn't) the Coop is neither on campus nor restricted to students enrolled at the college. It's across the street from Harvard, and it's open to the public. It was a much better place before they handed it over to Barnes & Noble.

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 3:17am

    loser

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anon2, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Refusing Service

    You obviously haven't been to Harvard Square. The Coop is on a public street, and caters to (and sells to) anyone and everyone (in fact, I bet they do more business selling "Harvard" souveniers to tourists than anything else). Not to mention that they have never been a part of Harvard University proper.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Anon2, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 7:38am

    Re: Harvard Bookstore? I don't think so.

    The coop USED to be a student-run cooperative. However, they found it easier and more profitable to turn over all the operations to B&N. The "Students" involvement these days is pretty much as an absentee board-of-directors (and cheap labor pool).

    The policies at the Coop are set by Barnes & Ignoble, period.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Anon2, Sep 22nd, 2007 @ 7:43am

    Re: We all know...

    "sample questions being changed" - Yes, that's the real change, so if you're using last year's textbook you can't do the homework assignments!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Byron B. Mathews, Jr., Sep 23rd, 2007 @ 7:32pm

    Re: Really?

    I believe you have to be a "public accommodation," a defined term in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to fall within the federal law of discrimination against service. There is probably also a Massachusetts state law that is similar, and it may even be broader. A public accommodation is defined generally as motels, hotel, restaurants, movie theaters, stadiums, and places of public entertainment. A bookstore would not fall with Title VII.
    If the kids at Harvard want to see a rude business owner, they should come down to NYC and go to a Korean Green Grocery and walk around for 5 minutes without buying anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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