Recently it came to my attention that something quite significant has not changed. Forget the abuse and harassment some students experienced within the course. Ignore the plagiarism and the worthless peer reviews. (Remember the person whose peer reviews amounted to nothing because the reviewer merely wrote out the words one two three etc.?)
What I want to know is this: What, if anything, does Coursera plan to do about the pirating of copyrighted materials?
While most of the material used within the course was freely available through Project Gutenberg, on ereaders like the Kindle or Nook, etc. However, not all of the books were available online for free. Specifically:
The course description clearly states that all of the readings, except these two, are available for free. Furthermore, the course was designed in such a way that the student did not have to submit essays or even do evaluations for 3 of the assignments so skipping these two books would be of no consequence.
It wasn’t long before one could find people on the forums offering copies of these books, saying they would scan copies of them and send them to whomever. Were they charging for the copies? Does it matter?
Fact: Copying the books is illegal and a violation of copyright.
Fact: The students are cooperating in this on the forums within Coursera
Fact: Coursera isn’t doing a damn thing about it.
Dr. Rabkin assures and reassures the enrolled students that the forums are monitored. If that’s the case, does this mean that someone in Coursera is seeing the students offering pirated copies of these copyrighted texts and saying nothing?
If someone is truly monitoring the forums then yes, Coursera is turning a blind eye to copyright infringement.
I can understand why publishers are unable to address the issue of individuals scanning and distributing copies of books but I would imagine that they would at least be able to demand that Coursera do something about this. They did nothing about it when I was taking the course. And, from what I understand, there are already students boldly announcing that they have pirated copies available to anyone who wants or needs them. But since nobody needs to do all of the assignments to pass the course, then there is no need to do this whatsoever.