Thursday, June 15, 2006

Protecting E-Learning

A response I sent to Line 56.

You write, "You can have the best content, design, and teachers around, but, if you lose control of the medium itself, it won't matter. If you're trying to make money, one of your first responsibilities is to keep revenue from leaking. That's just as true for e-learning vendors as for anyone else."

This is a very narrow view of e-learning content. And though companies like LockLizard work very hard to convince vendors that their best assurance of revenue protection is to lock down learning content, this is far
from obviously the case.

Consider, for example, the usability of content that may suddenly 'expire' on you. Such content - and other content subject to the whims of digital locks - tends to really annoy people who have paid good money for it.
And the use of DRM makes it more likely, not less, that people will share it - if only to get around the annoying DRM.

Moreover, it is not clear that the production and protection of content is a viable business model. Most e-learning offerings are of content that is widely available - it's not like the principles of mathematics or of engineering, to name a couple, are trade secrets! With organizations like MIT and the Open University releasing theifr content for free, it is becoming
harder to see the value in paying for content, especially inconvenience DRM-encumbered content.

In short, this article struck me as not having really considered the implications. No doubt the producers of LockLizard were happy to see it - it is exactly the sort of reaction they want readers of their promotional materials to have. But there is a great resistance to this message.


  1. I think it is very narrow minded of you to assume that everyone producing elearning courses are happy to give them away. Have you not thought about the amount of time invested in creating these? Or are you happy to give your time and everything you produce away for free - I doubt it.

    Just because DRM is in force it does not mean that content will suddenly expire on you. In fact most content owners just use DRM controls to prevent basic copying and sharing of their content. Is that such a bad thing?

    Whether information is made freely available or not is up to the content owener. If they think it is economically viable to do so then go for it. If not, what can you do to protect your revenue apart from applying DRM controls to digital information? I don't see why you or anyone else should have anything I produce for free unless I decide that to be the case.

  2. I certainly did not say that people are (or even should be) happy to give away their work for free.

    But when I say that the writer is taking a very narrow view, what I mean is that there are better ways to make money. The use of DRM is counterproductive; it means you will make less money, not more.

    Finally, if you want to use DRM, be my guest. What I'm saying here is that I won't buy your content, and that other people won't either, because (a) it doesn't work very well, and (b) the free stuff is better anyways.

    If this makes me narrow-minded, well, as a vendor, that's your problem to solve.

  3. I see the whole scenario in different perspective.You can prepar e-learning content and share for free use if you have passion for only creating for others!No matter who uses or Can be like open license.But if you see any smart learning company they have LMS.But protecting your content is always a good thing for mis using and specially if you are in to e-learing content business you have to protect your content.



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