open versus closed approaches to copyright

Being involved with promoting open education for over a year, I read with interest the news about Edublogs and Pearson.  As the name suggests, Edublogs is a free blogging service for educationalist with, at the time of writing, 269,055 subscribers and, according to BBC News, 1.5 million blogs. Pearson are educational publishers, with a keen eye on licencing and copyright, who noticed a blogger had made the Beck Hopelessness Scale questionnaire (current cost $120) freely available to a group of students without permission from the copyright holders – Pearson. Upon request the Edublog administrators altered the visibility of this post so it was no longer publically available but the host, ServerBeach, saw it within the Edublog software; not publically available but still in existence and allegedly infringing copyright. Claiming they received no response from Edublogs, ServerBeach shut down the entire site. One rogue blog and 1.5 Million blogs are made unavailable. Resistance to open education  and open education resources is to be expected. The concept of giving away for free what has traditionally been hidden behind closed locked doors can be a major paradigm shift and not one to be achieved overnight. The World Wide Web was designed as democratic space but that freedom has inevitably been taken over by the multi international publishing corporations who have transferred their existing restrictions into online environments. Even those totally against the principles of open education, must surely not be in agreement with this sort of power – especially when the offending item was hidden from public view in the first place.

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