BENGALURU: Abhay Sharma is grappling with what is becoming a burgeoning menace for educational technology companies – piracy.
“I have over 20 courses up on Udemy and many reached out asking if I could share free coupons. When I asked why I should do that, the reply was, ‘these courses are already available for free... we are just asking so we do not have to download’,” said Sharma, who teaches courses at several platforms.
Edtech companies, including Coursera and Udacity, are caught in a situation where developers and other professionals are sharing paid content from these sites among their peer networks and groups where colleagues or friends avail courses for free.
“You can easily find many such posts on Facebook, wherein one buys expensive courses for $2,000-3,000 from the sites and then sells them for $50. It is becoming quite an open discussion on social media and has been an ongoing problem,” Sharma told ET. These links are shared in a password-protected manner.
This appears to have become a common mode of sharing, especially among coders. “It is an easy way to download such content when you are preparing for interviews or working on some new project,” a Bengaluru-based coder said on condition of anonymity.
With reskilling becoming a significant career booster, edtech companies have seen a dramatic increase in uptake of relevant courses from IT companies as well as startups.
“Piracy is growing in edtech space. Despite most of the content having a copyright, there have been multiple instances where the content is available online,” said Ishan Gupta, managing director, Udacity India. “But a lot of factors like your mentors, peers and practical application of theories play an important role when it comes to effective learning. Of course, piracy of content hampers some part of the business.”
India remains one of the top markets for such pirated content, said experts.
“It is a mindset among people that needs to change,” said Gautam Kumawat, a cybersecurity professional. He said there are many sites which allow users access to such content for free. “The site owners who provide such content mainly earn through ad clicks which are incorporated in between. Many also give users coupons to avail free content,” he said.
However, these sites are also infected at times, and therefore risky, said experts. “These sites also access email IDs to keep sharing such content, for monetary gains,” said Kumawat. Coursera and Udemy did not respond to queries emailed by ET.