January has brought us yet another example of bad behavior from publishers.
Earlier this month, a math teacher was convicted for linking to pirated answer sheets.
While as a fiction writer, I am always saddened to see novels taken down in the mass book burnings of the internet age, even I have to admit it’s even harder to watch educational materials go down.
I am a little late on this, but seeing that as no good reason to keep quiet, I sent out my thoughts to Ms. Bruinsma – the press contact on Noordhoff’s site. (Under the “Pers” tab – it’s in Dutch, but Chrome was kind enough to translate.) To anyone else who cares I urge you to please send a note to this probably well-intentioned publisher to let them know that this behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed.. I’ve been writing to authors/publishers for over a year. Sometimes they don’t respond. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they respond well. Sometimes they don’t. But while they are responsible for their actions as a creator or corporation, we are responsible for speaking up. So please, take a minute to let this publisher know that no one is okay with bullying school teachers. You don’t even have to take the time to write something totally new. I’ll give you mine – take ideas, take chunks, take the whole damn thing if you want. But if it helps at all for inspiration, here’s my letter:
Dear Noordhoff Publishers,
I would like to express my disappointment that an educational publisher would threaten a teacher sharing answer sheets with students. (Reported here: http://torrentfreak.com/math-teacher-convicted-for-linking-to-copyrighted-answer-sheets-130116/ )
Both my parents were math teachers and my dad has contributed to textbooks in the past. I am well aware of the time and effort that goes into producing quality teaching materials, and it makes sense that a publisher would want to protect these materials.
However, locking up educational materials counters the very effort of the creators that publishers fight to protect, and defeats the purpose of the time and effort put into the work. It would better serve the writers, without whose efforts Noordhoff would have no materials to profit from, and the students whom these materials are supposed to benefit if Noordhoff found a better way than forcing a teacher to not share the answer sheets that are available to them. I can’t help but wonder, what alternatives did Noordhoff seek before litigation?