One of those blogs, run by a guy named "Clive," published 279 words from a Pearson work that dates back to 1974.
Pearson, which owned the copyright to those 279 words, decided it didn't like the copyright infringement "Clive" had executed by publishing those 279 words and decided to have those words taken down.
But rather than ask "Clive," the owner of the blog that published the 27 words to take those down, or ask Edublog, the owner of the service that was hosting Clive's blog to take the words down, they went to the website host and had all the blogs on Edublog taken down instead.
Because that makes total sense.
Here's the story in more detail:
Five years ago an Edublog user called “Clive” published a copy of the Becks Hopelessness Scale, a product to which Pearson owns the copyright.
“One of our teachers, in 2007, had shared a copy of Beck’s Hopelessness Scale with his class, a 20 question list, totaling some 279 words, published in 1974, that Pearson would like you to pay $120 for,” Edublogs founder and CEO James Farmer explains.
However, instead of simply contacting Edublogs with their takedown notice, Pearson contacted ServerBeach instead. This tactic, of contacting hosts of websites instead of the sites themselves, is becoming more widespread. A developing strategy of anti-piracy companies is to cause as much aggravation as possible with their takedown notices to make hosting difficult for anyone deemed to be an infringer.
Whether Pearson follow this strategy is unknown, but if they wanted to cause a lot of trouble with this notice it definitely worked, despite Edublogs complying with the notice.
“So we looked at [the 'infringing' blog], figured that whether or not we liked it Pearson were probably correct about it, and as it hadn’t been used in the last 5 years ’splogged’ the site so that the content was no longer available and informed ServerBeach,” says Farmer.
However, Farmer says that ServerBeach detected that the offending blog was still in the Edublogs web cache, and even though it was inaccessible to the public, responded with the following notice:
A few hours later ServerBeach took action, not to shut down just the offending blog, but to take the whole Edublogs operation offline, a total of more than 1.45 million blogs. That’s a huge number of people affected, even if each blog has just a single reader.
ServerBeach is as much to blame as Pearson for not contacting Edublog with a simple phone call and asking the one offending blog post be taken down.
Nonetheless, the strategy of going nuclear on copyright infringement that Pearson followed in this case, informing the website host instead of Edublog and causing all of the teacher and student blogs on the site to be taken down for a time, is not an accidental one.
Pearson is not about education.
Pearson is about profit - and woe to those who stand in the way of that.