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Udemy responds to controversy over pirated online courses

Company stands by copyright infringement policy, but says it will consider streamlining its reporting process

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Udemy, an online learning service, has responded to criticism over its copyright policy, after several researchers discovered that the site was selling pirated versions of their courses. In a blog post published over the weekend, the company said it acted in accordance with its copyright infringement policy when it removed a video that security researcher Troy Hunt produced for Pluralsight. Hunt's video had been uploaded to Udemy without his permission, and was selling on the site for  £37 ($56), but Udemy says that the person who uploaded it did not see any revenue.

"Many of you have asked about what happened to the money received from Troy’s course. There was none," Udemy CEO Dennis Yang wrote in the blog post. "As the fraudulent instructor had created coupon codes to allow students free access to the course, no money was exchanged in this process."

Udemy says it will consider changes to reporting process

Yang reiterated the company's stance that as an online marketplace, it faces some "bad actors" that seek to profit off of plagiarized material, and that it relies on its users to report infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). After Hunt tweeted about his stolen video, Tekpub co-founder Rob Conery found one of his own courses on Udemy, and criticized the company's takedown process in a Medium post, noting that only Udemy members are allowed to report cases of alleged copyright infringement. In the blog post, Yang said Udemy will now explore ways to streamline the reporting process.

"Our escalation team will be meeting after the holiday to review all of our copyright processes, including allowing people who do not have a Udemy account to use our flagging notification system," Yang writes. "We know that sending an email can sometimes be a pain and we will look [into] making the reporting process easier."

Yang added that so far this year, Udemy has received 125 DMCA requests, in addition to 45 notifications about suspicious content. More than 15,000 courses are uploaded to the site every year, he said.