With three weeks to go before the start of the Fall 2017 semester, most college students had begun to purchase school supplies and order textbooks. FreeDumb, the online organization responsible for leaking digital copies of college textbooks, had other plans. The perception of the group changes depending on which circle you stand in, with some calling the band “digital buccaneers.” Others simply know them as heroes.
The coterie have reportedly stolen and amassed a collection of more than 50,000 digital copies of textbooks for distribution to college students fed up with having to pay tuition and for the cost of school materials to get that education. Among the companies to cite losses are Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Chegg.
In an exclusive statement provided to CNN, the group indicated that they were enrolled in traditional four-year colleges and have had enough of “corporations draining their pockets of everything including the twenty-five cents reserved for their Ramen noodle dinners.”
“Students already have it hard enough having to leave college with thousands of dollars of debt,” read the statement. “So, we decided to make these copies available to college students on our website for free.”
This, of course, was true until Aug. 18 when the group was forced to take down their website due to an IP address compromise. In a tweet on a since deleted page, FreeDumb said that the decision was made to protect the location of their headquarters as the glitch could have exposed their whereabouts to authority figures seeking to apprehend them. Although, they noted that students would still be able to download materials through a link provided on their server’s backchannel: freedumbreigns.org.
Authorities are urging persons who have any information which could lead to FreeDumb’s arrest to come forward. However, the majority of the public seems to be against turning in the group’s members, as seen in responses like:
“Let FreeDumb (b)ring … me free textbooks!” – stay_rollin_dough
“Whoever turns in #FreeDumb will have made a ridiculous amount of enemies … #justsayin” – whatitdo
“I’m a parent of three college students, I fully support this movement. Fight the power, #FreeDumb!” – backinmy_day
As a college student, it’s hard not to see this as a little victory; even if I’m still trying to find my way into that backchannel to access my free downloads. Here’s hoping that companies will see this act of rebellion more as a distress signal from penny-pinching college students.