In case you don’t already know, we’re the folk not only behind this site and WPMU DEV, but also Edublogs … the oldest and second largest WordPress Multisite setup on the web, with, as of right now 1,451,943 teacher and student blogs hosted.
And today, our hosting company, ServerBeach, to whom we pay $6,954.37 every month to host Edublogs, turned off our webservers, without notice, less than 12 hours after issuing us with a DMCA email.
Because one of our teachers, in 2007, had shared a copy of Beck’s Hopelessness Scale with his class, a 20 question list, totalling some 279 words, published in 1974, that Pearson would like you to pay $120 for.
Which is, I mention in passing, two dollars and 32.5 cents per word.
One of several problems in copyright law is the fact that what appears to be fair use to the layman is usually illegal. And the unintended consequences of actions taken in good faith tends to include a ton of collateral damage — damages which usually far outweigh any perceived losses from non-commercial infringement. Because of this, hosting companies tend to prefer harming a relationship with a paying customer to finding their safe harbors under attack. For the sake of a $120 paper, ServerBeach was more than willing to drop a $75,000/year customer. Despite all the whining, copyright still has plenty of power. Too bad it’s so easily abused.
Intellectual property: even when it’s “property,” it’s scarcely “intellectual.”