Learning technology specialist Ian Linkletter has vowed to fight a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against him by online proctoring software company Proctorio.
Linkletter, who works at the University of British Columbia, was sued by Proctorio in September. On Friday, Linkletter announced he had filed legal documents with the British Columbia Supreme Court to defend himself. Linkletter has so far raised more than 24,000 Canadian dollars ($18,000) from donors wishing to contribute to his legal fees through a GoFundMe campaign.
The lawsuit centers on a series of tweets Linkletter published in August linking to Proctorio faculty training videos, which the company considers to be confidential. The videos were posted on YouTube by the company but were not publicly listed on the website.
“Proctorio’s lawsuit against me is groundless and brought for the sole purpose of silencing me,” Linkletter said in a statement. “They claim breach of confidence for information that was already available to the public, and copyright infringement for linking to videos they put on YouTube.”
Linkletter has been vocal in his criticism of Proctorio’s product, which he describes as “academic surveillance software.” More than 350 students have signed a letter calling for administrators at UBC to stop using Proctorio, citing privacy concerns echoed by Linkletter.
The training videos Linkletter shared are intended only for internal university use by faculty learning to use Proctorio, Mike Olsen, CEO of Proctorio, said in an interview. Sharing the videos publicly “risks showing students how to circumvent the software, which can also risk the safety and security of our platform,” he said.
“Taking action against someone in academia was definitely a last resort for us,” Olsen said. “We’re a bootstrapped company with limited resources in a really competitive space. At the end of the day, this is a person that was sharing our confidential IP, violating the terms of his university’s contract and antagonizing members of our social media team.”
Linkletter described the legal action as a strategic lawsuit against public participation, or SLAPP — a kind of lawsuit that is “a threat to freedom of expression.” Olsen rejected this characterization.
“We are absolutely not trying to silence critics. If you just do a Twitter search of Proctorio, you will see there are plenty of critics out there. However, we disagree that sharing confidential information that jeopardizes our product is the same thing as being critical,” said Olsen.
Olsen added that the company has a “pretty open communication strategy” and has engaged with critics in the past.
“The biggest irony there is that I used to be a huge critic of this industry and the solutions out there. Proctorio was a response to my own criticism of this industry,” he said.