Cengage Unlimited and MindTap Litigation
Bernstein, et al. v. Cengage Learning, Inc., Case No. 1:19-cv-07541-ALC (S.D.N.Y.)

Welcome to the Cengage Unlimited and MindTap Litigation Informational Webpage

Cengage Learning (“Cengage”) is accused of violating the terms of its publishing agreements with authors by underpaying royalties on textbook sales associated with two of Cengage’s online offerings: MindTap and Cengage Unlimited.  Click here to see the Class Action Complaint.

MindTap is an electronic version of the student textbook with multimedia capabilities and other materials (e.g., highlighting tool and quizzes). In computing royalties owed to authors for MindTap sales, the lawsuit alleges that Cengage has improperly manipulated the calculation of net receipts (i.e., the royalty base) by deeming as much as 50 percent of every MindTap sale non-royalty-bearing revenue. See Class Action Complaint paragraphs 34-40 for more information.

Cengage Unlimited is a subscription service through which students purchase all works available on the platform for a flat fee of $119.99 per semester. As with MindTap, the lawsuit alleges that Cengage does not do what the contracts require: calculate royalties based on net receipts from sales. Instead, it is alleged that Cengage uses a formula that it made-up, calculating royalties based on the use of the textbook in the platform and an arbitrary determination of the “relative value” of a particular textbook, factors found nowhere in the contracts. See Class Action Complaint paragraphs 41-45 for more information.

Susman Godfrey has been appointed interim class counsel to represent the interests of the proposed class.

If you would like more information about this lawsuit, or would like to become involved, you can email interim class counsel at cengageauthors-sg@susmangodfrey.com, or contact one of the following attorneys: Chanler Langham, Steven Sklaver, Kalpana Srinivasan, and Rohit Nath.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lawsuit about?

The lawsuit alleges that Cengage failed to pay royalties in accordance with its publishing agreements for sales made on two of its online offerings: MindTap and Cengage Unlimited. A copy of the Class Action Complaint against Cengage can be found here.

What agreements are at issue in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit involves publishing agreements between textbook authors and Cengage and its predecessors-in-interest, including Academic Press, Brooks/Cole, Course Technology, Dryden Press, Houghton Mifflin, Prindle, Weber & Schmidt, South-Western Publishing, Wadsworth, and West College Publishing. The proposed class is defined as follows:

All authors of works who entered into a publishing agreement with Cengage Learning, Inc. or one of its predecessors-in-interest whose works have been offered on the MindTap platform and/or as part of the Cengage Unlimited subscription service.

This definition excludes: authors whose publishing agreement contains a “Custom Publishing” provision that provides for royalties determined on a pro rata basis where the proration is determined in Cengage’s reasonable judgment.

Where is the lawsuit pending?

The lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 1:19-cv-07541-ALC. However, the case involves publishing agreements entered across the United States.

I heard Cengage already reached a settlement. Is the class action lawsuit still active?

Yes, this lawsuit is still active and interim class counsel at Susman Godfrey LLP continue to prosecute this action on behalf of the proposed class of Cengage authors.

On August 12, 2019, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against Cengage on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated authors who entered into publishing agreements with Cengage and whose works have been sold through Cengage’s MindTap platform or the Cengage Unlimited subscription service. See Bernstein et al. v. Cengage Learning, Inc., Dkt. 1, No. 1:19-cv-07541-ALC (S.D.N.Y.) (“Bernstein”). This class action lawsuit has not been settled.

There were previously two other class action lawsuits filed against Cengage that, like the Bernstein action, related to Cengage’s royalty practices for MindTap and Cengage Unlimited. These cases were Hull v. Cengage Learning Holdings II, Inc., No. 1:19-cv-7662-ALC (S.D.N.Y.) (“Hull”) and Knox v. Cengage Learning Holdings II, Inc., No. 18-cv-4292-GBD (S.D.N.Y.). The Hull and Knox actions were both voluntarily dismissed after the plaintiffs in those actions settled their individual claims. Neither Hull nor Knox plaintiffs were represented by interim class counsel, and no class action settlement was ever reached in Hull or Knox.

What does interim class counsel do?

On November 26, 2019, the Court appointed Susman Godfrey LLP as Interim Class Counsel pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(g). The Court has designated Interim Class Counsel to coordinate activities during pretrial proceedings and:

  1. Present to the Court the position of the proposed class on all matters;
  2. Coordinate the conduct of discovery on behalf of the proposed class;
  3. Conduct settlement negotiations on behalf of the proposed class;
  4. Enter into stipulations with opposing counsel as necessary; and
  5. Perform other duties necessary for the coordination of pretrial activities.

Contact Us

If you would like more information about this lawsuit, or would like to become involved, you can contact us as follows:

Email Us:


Attorney Information:

Chanler Langham

Kalpana Srinivasan

Steven Sklaver

Rohit Nath