Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Scribd Doing Enough?

The US law firm of Camara & Sibley is seeking class action status against document-sharing website Scribd in a Texas federal court. The charge: Scribd makes it just too easy to upload copyrighted content without permission, and the company should be held liable. We have long said that the DMCA's "safe harbour" provisions which protects websites such as Scribd is reactive and not proactive and act after the horse has bolted. The lawyers are used to controversy and could be said to court it having been those that defended Jammie Thomas against the RIAA.

They now represent Elaine Scott, a Houston author who found her entire book ‘Stocks and bonds: profits and losses’ available for download on Scribd and that the book had been downloaded over 100 times. The case is not about the prompt action on take down but the fact that it was put up in the first place under a ‘safe harbour’ protection and profiting from them until a copyright issues a take down notice. The onus they say and we agree should not be on the rights owners. Kiwi Camara, Scott's lawyer, is quoted in Ars Technica saying, "The West coast technology industry has produced a number of startup firms premised on the notion that commercial copyright infringement is not illegal unless and until the injured party discovers and complains of the infringing activity and the infringer fails to respond to such complaints... Scribd, is one such egregious infringer."

Interestingly he contends that Scribd isn't a "service provider" at all, but a publisher—which would remove the DMCA immunity—and also that Scribd by displaying adverts makes money directly off of infringing works, which could also threaten safe harbour protection.


Theresa M. Moore said...

I have posted my books on Scribd and picked up hundreds of subscribers. I have also seen "sampling" downloads increase. I had been posting the books for download as unprotected PDFs until I saw the numbers, and immediately switched to Adobe Digital Editions with DRM. If everyone does the same the sampling rate will go down but maybe sales will pick up. I have only sold 2 books in the time I have been there, about 3 months. I would not recommend Scribd as a moneymaker, since it also hosts 3 page documents for free. Scribd is not really equipped to be a bookseller in the first place.

Anonymous said...

It's fine for YOU to post your own work whether for sale or not but Scribd allowed someone other than the copyright holder to post copyrighted work. They could have easily prevented that. It is also not easy to get them to remove your work.

Anonymous said...

There is also alot of junk - BUT privacy junk. Example there is a doc on Scribd over 2000 pages of nothing but email addresses. There are spreadsheets of employees of companies and where they live and work. What the hell is up with that?