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Maintaining the integrity of our Udemy community

Udemy Community,

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, there has been discussion online about potentially plagiarized content on Udemy. We take these issues extremely seriously. I want to take a moment to share more specifics on this particular situation and also clearly detail our process for addressing allegations of copyright infringement.

As an open marketplace of online content, we, like other platforms, face bad actors that seek to profit by stealing intellectual property and reposting it as their own. This is in clear violation of our terms of use and against every principle we hold as supporting open marketplaces. We want to share more facts on this particular situation to shed light on our process to protect our marketplace.

First, we think a brief rundown of the timeline of events would be helpful:

  • On November 18, 2015, a course was uploaded on Udemy as “Learn Ethical Hacking: Hack Web Applications” by “Roy H.”;
  • On Thanksgiving day; Thursday, November 26, 2015, Troy Hunt tweeted at 1:02 p.m. pacific time that the course on Udemy had been plagiarized from his content;
  • Later that same day, at 4:43 p.m. pacific time, Udemy received a DMCA takedown notice related to such course; and
  • On Friday, November 27, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. pacific time, the unauthorized copy of Troy’s course was removed from Udemy.  

We take intellectual property rights seriously and act quickly to remove content when we suspect any potential copyright infringement. We stand by our process and pride ourselves in taking down potentially pirated content within 24 hours of notification.

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

Our biggest lesson learned from this experience is that piracy never takes a vacation. We understand the importance of having support teams available online 24/7 to assist our global student base and pay close attention to the escalation process at all times.

The good news is, the good actors in the Udemy system are much greater than the bad. On average, over 15,000 courses are uploaded to Udemy per year. So far in 2015, we have received 125 DMCA notifications as well as 45 “Hey, this looks weird maybe you should look into this,” notifications. Our copyright team has looked into every one of these complaints.

Our copyright policy outlines the process around how we handle notifications of copyright infringement, which can be found in its entirety at https://www.udemy.com/terms/copyright/ – here are the highlights:

  1. Similar to platforms like YouTube and eBay, Udemy strictly follows the United States copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and we have a dedicated DMCA enforcement specialist who swiftly addresses concerns about potential plagiarism and copyright infringement.
  2. We have an open door policy for any person to let us know of copyright and intellectual property issues by emailing copyright@udemy.com; we have and will continue to act swiftly to address all issues brought to our attention.
  3. As a marketplace, Udemy requires our Instructors to agree to our Terms of Service wherein they must confirm that the content they are uploading to our platform is their original content, or that they have the right to upload through licenses and consents for permission.

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. We know that sending an email can sometimes be a pain and we will look to making the reporting process easier.

As the Udemy marketplace continues to grow, we remain committed to creating and operating a marketplace where students and instructors from every corner of the globe can tap into their limitless potential – and will not let the actions of a few bad actors spoil the experience for others. We are thankful for our passionate community of Instructors and students who actively provide feedback and commentary that allow us to address issues quickly and efficiently, and welcome any person who has a question, comment or issue to be discussed to reach out to support@udemy.com.

— Dennis Yang, Udemy CEO

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