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Amazon Pulls Content From Inspire Teacher Site Over Copyright Issues

amazon inspireAmazon 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, 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.

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Fjtorres June 30, 2016 um 2:05 pm

Back in the day, the local CompUSA had a nice display of the Casio color PocketPCs highlighting MS Reader. One small problem: the demo file was LORD OF THE RINGS. Nicely formatted. Looked great. Not legally available at the time, of course.

When I tracked down an employee to ask who was selling it, he grabbed the Pocket PC and disappeared into the back room.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions June 30, 2016 um 2:11 pm

Your article seems to miss the point of what Amazon is doing. You seem to think Amazon is NOT at fault. They are 100% at fault. They are ENCOURAGING teachers to upload "curated" content. Curated means copyrighted files/materials. Maybe the teachers uploading have no understanding of how copyright law works, but a Fortune 500 Company does! Shame on Amazon and shame on you for letting them off the hook!

Nate Hoffelder June 30, 2016 um 2:50 pm

All that Amazon is doing here is running a file-sharing site. They’re not uploading the content.

And I’m not letting them off the hook; I’m holding them to the same standard as any other file-hosting site.

Fjtorres June 30, 2016 um 7:17 pm

Curated doesn’t mean copyrighted: it means it was examined and approved by somebody. Preferably a human.
It’s not an issue of semantics or intent, it’s one of process.
And the process failed.

Cale June 30, 2016 um 2:55 pm

But you ARE letting them off the hook because you are ignoring their encouragement to upload anything they have in their collection, whether they made it, found it, bought it, or whatever. Their continued use of the word "curated" is what you need to look into and is why this is causing the outrage. And, come on, do you think Amazon DIDN’T think this was going to happen?

Nate Hoffelder June 30, 2016 um 5:00 pm


Do you have access to the site, and can you confirm what Amazon is saying to teachers?

naomi o’brien July 2, 2016 um 8:12 pm

Agree 100%

Cale June 30, 2016 um 5:23 pm

Yes, I have access to the Beta and, upon signing up, was required to "share" a handful of resources. There was no "check" in place, or even a box to check, to verify I had created the material. The exact phrasing escapes me, but it encouraged users to simply upload anything they had. This by itself is ridiculous, and then again even more shocking that a company as large as Amazon is surprised that teachers are now uploading things they do not have the right to upload. I am glad attention was brought to this before it officially launched so hopefully now it can get cleaned up and more professional.

Nate Hoffelder June 30, 2016 um 5:34 pm

Okay, now that is different.


naomi o’brien July 2, 2016 um 8:12 pm

I was at the Ed Tech conference in Denver and accessed Amazon Inspire. I was very angered to see a 300+ page resource that two friends of mine created and sell on had been uploaded to the site without their knowledge and being offered for free. Just inviting teachers to share anything in their collection is not okay!

Paul Biba’s eBook, eLibrary and ePublishing news compilation for week ending Saturday, July 2 | The Digital Reader September 24, 2016 um 1:35 pm

[…] Amazon Pulls Content From Inspire Teacher Site Over Copyright Issues  (The Digital Reader) […]

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