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By Paul Meekin
“An Eye For The Eye Makes The World Blind”
Some time ago it was reported the University of California, Berkeley, would start deleting thousands of freely available educational resources. Why? Because the content was not accessible to folks with disabilities. The crux of this was that because Berkeley receives government funding, it needs to meet certain criteria as it pertains to students who may have a hard time watching traditionally produced content.
So instead of opting to optimize this content (which Berkeley alleged was too expensive) they decided to start removing it and placing it behind a paywall which didn’t have the same regulatory restrictions.
This seems like a lose-lose for everyone. The kids with disabilities don’t get any new content. Kids who can’t afford college lost out on some freely available content. Berkeley looked like jerks for not ponying up the dough to modify this content despite having the money to do so.
“Today, the University of California at Berkeley has deleted 20,000 college lectures from its YouTube channel. Berkeley removed the videos because of a lawsuit brought by two students from another university under the Americans with Disabilities Act…We copied all 20,000 and are making them permanently available for free via LBRY.”
I don’t know who had the idea to do this, but I want to kiss them on their mouth.
LBRY itself seems like a wonderful idea – “LBRY is the first truly free and censorship-resistant way to exchange content. The LBRY protocol provides a completely decentralized network for discovering, distributing, and publishing all types of content and information, from books to movies.”
Which is to say it’s impossible to remove content because the content lives everywhere. That’s exciting, and if all goes according to plan, very likely disruptive in the realm of digital media. How can you order a website take down a movie if that movie isn’t, technically, on the website or a server owned by it.
Regardless, it’s exciting to see someone recognized the potential tragedy of this situation and stepped in at an opportune moment. Berkley saves face, poor kids can get these resources, and LBRY makes a name for itself prior to it’s worldwide launch.
As for the disabled that brought this case, hopefully Berkeley has a change of heart and continues to release new, free, accessible content that *everyone* can watch and enjoy and learn from.
This entire situation would be a good start.