By March 8, 2018

Udemy: How They’re Making Education CHEAP (In The Wrong Way)

Today I'm going to talk about Udemy and how they are making education SO SO cheap that it's almost ridiculous.

Chris Hawkes, a buddy of mine, has asked me to record this video in response to a video he recorded.

In that video, he said that “Udemy Targets ‘Pirate’ Site Giving Away its Paid Courses For Free”
(Read the full article here:

So… What do I think about Udemy and how they're handling its business? As a content creator, does it pay off?

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's going on? Let me lower this thing. A buddy of mine, Chris Hawkes, he's an awesome guy. You should subscribe to his channel because he's so awesome, especially if you're a software developer and you're like, “John doesn't do software development videos anymore.” This guy does and he's awesome.
Anyway, he did this video that he asked me to respond to, so I thought I would because I saw this video and I thought it was interesting. There's some interesting topics to talk about in regards to this on Udemy is infringing upon my content. Basically, in his video … I thought it was funny though because the article, the very first article in here that he had up, “Udemy targets pirate site giving away its paid courses for … ” Pirate it, you're the scum of the earth. You pirate people's stuff and then sell it's fault? I don't know. I know it's the second person's fault but …
Anyway, I thought it was kind of funny in here that it said, “A clash of these ideals is brewing in the United States where online learning platform Udemy has been trying to have some of its courses taken down from free tutorials … ” Oh, no, no. This is the part, “A significant number of people believe that learning should be open to all and that texts and associated materials shouldn't be locked away by copyright holders in trying to monetize knowledge.” Excuse me. Sorry, while I choke to death. “Of course, people who make a living creating materials see the position rather differently.”
Oh, wait a minute. Slave labor's not okay? How is slave labor not okay? How is it not possible to just take someones work and then make it free? It should be free. If you give people knowledge, you should be required to give it away for free. Slave labor is definitely legitimate. I mean, of course. How many countries were built on slave labor, right? Am I living in just some kind of bizarre world? There's really a significant number of people that believe that learning should be open to all and texts and associated material shouldn't be locked away by copyright holders trying to monetize knowledge?
Let me tell you something. Knowledge is free. Knowledge is free, okay? But what's not free is the organization and dispensation of that knowledge. The thing is, two plus two equals four, but guess what? If I make a video showing you how to add two plus two, that's not free. The knowledge, the principle behind it, the axiom behind mathematics, that's free. That's knowledge. You can't copyright that shit. Wisdom is free, okay? Knowledge is free. Facts are facts. You can observe the world and gain knowledge and wisdom and it's totally free. But if I'm going to organize that and teach it to you, that's not fucking free. That's my idea, that's my content, something that I created and put out into the world.
This YouTube video's free in some manner of speaking, but I've chosen that because my labor has a cost to it. If you try to make knowledge free, like all knowledge, all learning materials, tutorials, videos, knowledge that people are dispensing free, then you have to compel people to work for free. You have to force them to work. Who's going to produce the knowledge that's free that they're not getting any money for? Who's going to produce that? Crazy.
Anyway, that's not what this video's about. I mean, it kind of is. Chris goes on to say, “What is Udemy doing? They might be kind of a sleazy company because …” Talking about Python, he's like, “I didn't tell them they could put this video up. They just stole my shit. They didn't even put my name on it and they've watermarked it. What should I think about this? Should I be excited about the exposure? Should I be pissed off?”
So I've had my courses put on Udemy for, you know, pirated. I'm sure that there's plenty of videos I've done, or plenty material, that is on Udemy somewhere. I've had it on other pirate sites where people are selling my shit, and people have even asked me for a refund on shit they bought from somewhere else that was mine. People have asked for support on it, all kinds of crazy, crazy stuff.
Where do I land on this? What do I think about this, as far as Udemy itself? Let's start with Udemy itself. Should they be policing this stuff more? Gosh, it's so hard, because how could you? How could you honestly check to make sure everything was unique? If someone submits a course, this is like a selling platform, if someone submits a course on here, what, are you going to check everything to make sure that there's … I don't know how you could check the whole internet to make sure it's all original content. What you could do is be really good at if someone reports it as stolen or maybe even asking the students, I don't know. It seems pretty hard to do.
Their business model is basically a marketplace for courses and so, yeah, I don't know. It's just like too much greed, too many people that are just like, they want, you can produce a good course. I've had this whole fiasco, you can check out the video on the JavaScript course thing where some guy actually like, I paid for him to build a course for my company, and he just stole it. He stole it from a Udemy course actually. Now we're actually selling the real course on there, but … Greed. People want shortcuts. I'm like, “Dude. You could've just made your own course.” These people that steal my YouTube videos and put them up on their channel, I'm like, “Why don't you just fucking record your own video? Heck, you could even listen to what I say and then paraphrase this shit. I'm giving you the ideas. It's fine. At least synthesize, right? I'll at least be flattered and honored by that.”
Anyway, so as far as Udemy itself, I don't think they can police the whole thing. I think there's a value that they're providing. Do I think they're kind of a sleazy company? I guess kind of. I mean, the fact that they're like $194 at 94% off, come on guys. That's just a little bit … Isn't it like 20% off, 50% off, I understand marketing and sales. I do it myself. I put stuff at discounts and then make it time sensitive because that's how you sell things. But 94% off? Now it becomes ridiculous. And it's always on sale? I don't know. I don't know. I feel like it's going a little bit far over the line there. If you're going do that shit, then maybe you should police your stuff better.
Here's the thing. Here's what it comes down to … time to care about this? No. I just don't have time to care about this shit, because what am I going to do? I'm going to spend my … someone's stole my shit and put it on Udemy, I mean if it becomes a … take it down, which I've done before. It'll piss me off a little bit, but in general, I'm not going to care that much because I've got shit to do. I've got to build my business. I've got to … and sell it and are they biting into my …
I don't think enough. I don't think we have enough on the market to actually worry about that. I could be wrong. You know what I mean? Maybe this is a bigger deal, but, like I said, I just don't want to sweat the small stuff. Done me wrong and stole my shit. There's plenty of pirate sites. I try. It's basically a bang for the buck thing. Like, can I stop copyright infringement on stuff … people from selling my stuff or give stuff away from free that I'm charging for. If I can do it very little effort, I do, but otherwise, I'm more concerned with just making …
It's like taxes. It's illegal, it's unethical for the government to steal money from me to compel me to pay something. I'm a pretty much a … Let's not get into politics … [inaudible 08:46] to say but let's not get into politics so much.
Anyway, I don't … I just try to make more money. I don't like that people put my courses and my content on Udemy and steal, but I just try to make more courses, try to make more money, try to make build value. You can, just keep on giving, you just … value in the world. That's what's going to matter, though, some way … unscrupulous assholes, but it's not just about making the money. It's about … some shit and I sell it on the internet and I make money … it's good to get the money for having … paid for and I created some value in their lives. That's more important and that's more valuable. There you go. They're ripping themselves off when they're stealing someone else's shit.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."