Amazon Inspire was designed to let teachers share curricula, lesson plans, and textbooks they created, but it seems some teachers have failed to grasp the idea that one shouldn’t submit others’ work as one’s own.
The NYTimes reports that Amazon has already had to pull content from the site:
One day after Amazon announced that it would introduce Amazon Inspire, a free instructional resources site where teachers could share lesson plans, the company said it had removed three items from the site after educators complained that the products were copyrighted materials.
In a related blunder, Amazon had included two of the items it has since taken down in a screen shot of the site that was sent to journalists and published in news outlets, including The New York Times.
More embarrassing still: Two items — a collection of first-grade math lessons and English literature activity lessons — in the Amazon screen shot were created by authors on teacherspayteachers.com, a rival instructional resources site where educators offer lesson plans they have created.
While I’m not going to beat up Amazon over not having a way to vet content (the site only just launched) one would think that they would double check the legality of anything mentioned in the press docs. Also, the site is in beta with access limited to only those who have an access code, so perhaps Amazon could have vetted the content.
On the other hand, I have seen ereader makers release promo images which feature Harry Potter ebooks. (This was before Pottermore, so the ebooks were clearly pirated.)
Rohit Agarwal, the general manager of Amazon K-12 Education, the company’s education unit, told the NYTimes that Amazon was looking into how the materials in question came to be uploaded to the site.
“Our team is doubling down and investigating what the root cause is,” Mr. Agarwal said in an interview Tuesday evening. “We will do what is appropriate to respond to the results of the investigation.”
Amazon is not the first to have this problem; most file-sharing sites have a problem with pirated content, and some (like Scribd) never escape their early reputation as a pirate site. We’ve even seen pirates set up shop on edusites like Udemy.
Amazon has the resources to fix this issue, so I wouldn’t expect it to be a long term problem.