If you think that academic publishers are going to give up any of their content to the public domain in this era of open-source, think again. The website Edublogs.com recently found out the hard way what fewer than 300 words of copyrighted material can do to their ecosystem: shut them down.
Edublogs is a blog-publishing site that hosts nearly 1.5 million education-based blogs. One such blog, dating back to 2007 and having not been updated in more than five years, contained 279 words from a text originally published in 1974 under a copyright owned by Pearson. In reaction to this infringement, Pearson issued a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation to the Web-hosting firm ServerBeach, which hosts the site for Edublogs.
Upon learning of the infringement, Edublogs took down the offending page. But it seems that the message was not shared with the hosting company, ServerBeach, which took all of Edublogs’ servers offline. I don’t believe anyone in the academic community will argue that Pearson doesn’t have the right to protect its copyrights, but this seems a bit extreme. Why did it take them years to find this? Should Pearson have given the blog a chance to make a correction before taking larger action? Lots of question could be asked, but you can bet that none will be answered.
More cases of publishers going all in to hold onto what’s theirs (no matter how little or how obscure):