St Aiden's Homeschool – Our Other Blog

April 22, 2013


Filed under: Uncategorized — Donnette E Davis @ 4:56 pm

You know, I have no difficulty sharing my personally-created and obtained resources, or that information which I am duly (and legally) authorized to offer for download from my website, or even some of my other sites and blogs, and I feel the need to put this “out there”.

BUT I have a really hard time dealing with the fact that there are so many people who are quite adept at skimming and skirting and downloading PDF ebooks, without knowledge or consent of the originator of the material, or the website owner, or the copyright owner, and uploading these to either their own or other websites, available, either for free, or for premium-paid membership.

I recently discovered a number of websites that have my documents on their servers. One has 292 documents, another has 135, another has something like 70.

When first started, I was one of the first, in terms of where they are today, to join the Scribd community, and happily have over 800 documents published with them, available for free download to help, inspire and educate. With almost 3 million views/downloads I am happy to be part of the Scribd community.

When first opened its site I too was one of the initial members, and quickly uploaded over 200 ebooks and documents, again for free, to educate, assist and hopefully inspire other homeschooling families that they too CAN educate their children in a safe and nurturing environment at little or no cost, and that it does not take a genius to create your own curriculum.

By 2007 I was published as an author. By 2009 I had progressed from basic units to writing books that are published worldwide. While I have exclusive contracts with some publishers, I thought long and hard and decided there was still much to learn and write about which I could share, and offer a value-for-money educational download through Docstoc, with whom I had been since, oh, I don’t recall when, maybe 2007/2008, when they first started in any event.

They very quickly informed me that my work was not “up to their standards” – what? When I see what is on offer for sale in many online book/document stores, I would have thought my work was very much higher than their average standard. Be that as it may, I deleted my account, and asked that all my titles be removed with immediate effect. This was done as per my request.

However, I see that since then 292 of my documents, directly downloaded from my website have been uploaded to this same website, albeit by members, and not by the webmaster/s themselves. And to cap it all, they are marked as “Public Domain”. When I signed in with Facebook and attempted to download one of my own documents, I was redirected to a page that asked me to upgrade to “PREMIUM”… to pay for something of my own?

This begs the question about what measures are put in place to prevent this sort of personal and/or copyright infringement of others? While I have made my works available for free download on a number of sites, it is with their request or by permission granted, and I have willingly, quite happily shared these resources. However, my work is NOT in the public domain, has never been released into the public domain, and any derivative works I create utilizing public domain resources, remain my own. Hence I own the copyright of derivatives, format, layout, and redigitalized or re-worked content.

My work remains my own, and at all of these titles that are being downloaded and uploaded to other sites without my knowledge and permission, are, as far as I am concerned, a direct infringement of my rights and the laws which govern copyright universally. Why, I ask myself. The stuff is there on my website, it is free, it is LEGAL, and if you search through the 30000 odd pages (it may be less or more with the new restructuring of the website) you will find even more valuable FREE downloads, full printable games, full printable ebooks, teaching manuals, parenting manuals, craft activities, worksheets, entire books of hundreds of pages. Why would anyone want to take something that is owned by someone (website 1) and make it publicly available by websites 2 and 3 – and in many cases, for a fee?

People obviously are not aware of the amount of work and the effort it takes to actually research and put together something that is aesthetically pleasing and serves a valuable purpose. Education is for everyone, and I am the first to offer to share my work – for free, and I am eternally grateful to those authors who authorize me to include portions of their work into mine, or to those who have inspired me to push the envelope and take me right outside of my comfort zone to create even better, more appealing units.

My titles with publishers are available for very small considerations, do not cost the earth and you can obtain an entire year’s worth of subject material for probably less than $10,00. In fact most of the comprehensive works are available for less than $5,00 via my publishers.

Why do I sell them then if I go on so much about “free stuff” I am happy to share? Well that’s simple enough. My website costs me a lot of money to host. It is not a free website. In fact I am on one of the most expensive web packages I know. The bandwidth cost in South Africa is more expensive than anywhere else and just as an aside, I also have a full time job as mother, wife, and a full time job in the legal field, so my time is really at a premium. So the simple answer is “To help cover costs…” simple, end of story.

So, Docstoc, I am afraid that our very long relationship has come to an unpleasant end, and a DMCA notice has officially been served and received. Would I even have bothered to check if I still had my account? You betcha! Because I kept on coming up with alerts from websites I had never heard of selling items of mine that are available for free from my website.

Or you know what? If you want something desperately and it is not free, it is from one of my publishers, email me. I’ll GIVE it to you if you need it to complete your child’s education.

It’s never been about money. It’s been about education, children, and furthering the ideals and principles of homeschooling in a country where the public education system is so much of a disaster that it is officially bankrupt and 75% of the teachers are not even qualified to be called teachers. If they actually pitch up at the schools designated them. And now it becomes about protecting my rights, as you would protect yours!

I learned the hard way about copyright infringement, fair use, and the like, and then researched everything I could. And still sometimes I am not sure, so I find out, ask questions, but this – this is flagrant disregard for the law. Please be fair to those who work really hard at providing free teaching materials, they really are not in it for the money!


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