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Pearson Apologizes for Disabling 1.4 Million Education Blogs

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by guest blogger Mike Bock

In a statement released Tuesday on the company's website, Pearson Education apologized for its role in shutting down Edublogs, a network of 1.4 million education blogs mostly written by teachers and students in classrooms, but attempted to place some of the blame on ServerBeach, a web hosting service Edublogs uses.

"It is a matter of deep regret that, in responding to our request to address this single item, a server hosting company took much broader action," the press release said.

Pearson has faced harsh criticism for its role in shutting down Edublog's network on Oct. 10 for nearly 60 minutes while ServerBeach verified that the copyrighted material in question had been removed, Arstechnica reported.

BBC News reported that one blogger reprinted the Beck Hopelessness Scale, a 279-word survey used for children's psychiatric evaluations, which is copyrighted by Pearson. And since the blogger did not take down the survey after being contacted by Pearson's legal team twice last September, EduBlogs moderators intervened and shut down the blog. But the story wasn't over, BBC News reports:

"Unfortunately, in early October automated systems at ServerBeach spotted a copy of the disputed blog entry stored in the working memory of software Edublogs uses to make sure web pages are displayed quickly.

"The copy of the blog entry was in this memory store - only visible internally - because of the way Edublogs readies web pages for display. When Edublogs did not respond within 24 hours to emails alerting it to the allegedly infringing content, ServerBeach shut down the entire site."

James Farmer, Edublogs' founder and CEO, has since referred to ServerBeach's operators as having "the epitome of good grace" for apologizing, but there doesn't seem to be any love lost between Farmer and Pearson.

(Correction: This post has been corrected to show that ServerBeach is the web hosting service used by Edublogs.)

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