Paywalls, the Open Movement, and DMCA

Just last week I discussed potential problems with having an academic, rigorous reading list in an open access course such as a cMOOC.  My main contention was peer-review, empirical research (or the lack thereof) in the cMOOCs, as academic research is most often published in academic journals, journals that exist as a checkpoint to determine quality and sufficient rigor.  If cMOOCs cannot take from this lit, the discussion happens around news briefs and blogs, entities that are important but an incomplete part of the balanced breakfast.  

The other side of the equation reared its head this week, as Pearson moved to remove copywritten material from an edublogs site (last updated in 2007).  The content in question was from a 1974 textbook that was out of print.  The web host for edublogs, ServerBeach, responded by shutting down the server and removing access to the nearly 1.5 million edublogs.  The professor who put the copywritten material (a 20 question true/false quiz primer) out there intended to only affect a specific class, and the question of fair use is viable in such a situation.  However, fear of DMCA (likely spurred by SOPA and PIPA) seems to have resulted in a massive action for the interim.

So, it looks like the future of both open education (#oped12) and higher education (#cfhe12) is going to struggle with such a world, where this blog could show up on a reading list for a cMOOC, but if I were to publish research in the American Educational Research Association, it would not be available for such courses, and publishing it without permission (read:  $$$) would result in massive shutdowns affecting many more than my work was ever intended to see.

One tangental hope from this article — I received link to this article through the Twitter feed of Michael Peter Edson, who is in charge of Web & New Media strategy at the Smithsonian (and who I had the pleasure of meeting in March to discuss various educational and museum policy).  I often lament the lack of crossover in disciplines — a lot of cool open movement things are happening in museums (though not in museum ed departments, oddly enough), and it would be great to see the energy of such variant disciplines coalesce together.  Maybe it will.

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