Massive Edublogs Site Taken Offline by Complaint

Dennis Faas's picture

A single complaint about a five-year-old article forced almost 1.5 million educational blogs offline for a time. Although they have since been restored, the company responsible for the blogs says common sense should have prevailed.

The affected pages were all part of the mammoth Edublogs site that allows teachers and students to publish their own blogs and network with their counterparts at other schools.

Last month, educational publisher Pearson complained that an Edublogs blog originally posted in November 2007 contained a questionnaire called the "Beck Hopelessness Scale" (which is designed to assess a person's attitudes toward the future as well as their level of current motivation).

The 20 question, 300 word questionnaire was first published by Pearson in 1974. Pearson reportedly charges $120 to license its use.

Legal Complaint Goes Straight to Site Hosts

Rather than taking the issue directly to Edublogs, Pearson made a formal complaint under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to ServerBeach, the company whose computers host Edublogs. Pearson demanded the questionnaire be taken offline.

ServerBeach told Edublogs to do so and, after looking into the matter, Edublogs made the page unavailable to the public.

Earlier this month, ServerBeach's systems carried out an automated check of the Edublogs site. Although the page with the questionnaire remained offline, it was nevertheless found in the site's cache (which contains copies of many pages, even those the public can't view).

Entire Site Goes Dark Over Single Page

ServerBeach then emailed Edublogs demanding the page be removed from the cache.

Now the story gets controversial: ServerBeach claims it sent a follow-up message the next day; Edublogs denies that. A day later, ServerBeach simply took the entire Edublogs site offline.

Only after many protests did ServerBeach restore access to Edublogs. (Source:

ServerBeach now says it had no alternative in the matter because it must comply with the DMCA, and has no way of treating individual pages differently.

Edublogs says ServerBeach's actions were too automated, and that it could easily have resolved the problem with a phone call instead of taking the whole site offline. (Source:

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