Last week we reported on the questionable ebooks for sale on eBay, now today the Times covers similar abuse on Scribd.com ‘Authors fight free books site Scribd for ‘pirating’ their work’ where the paper found copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Ken Follett’s World without End among many bestselling titles available. The Californian Scribd website claims to be the most popular literary site in the world attracting some 55 million visitors a month.
Scribd operates a ‘notice and takedown system’ under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which means that the site is not held liable for actions of its users of which it is not aware. However, are publisher now to employ watchers who sole job is to search and discover infringement and serve notices? Some would say that many already do and their associations are very active but surely the service providers must know that content is illegal or at best dubious. It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to spot the questionable items on eBay so why are they allowed to place them?
Everyone’s worst nightmare is that books follow the same route as music and instead of being ripped off the books are merely scanned. Some would argue that by imposing strict DRM you invite the pirates in and others that without DRM you invite the pirates in. What is clear is that digital books are now visible and the cracks unfortunately are starting to appear. We can lock up the digital copy with DRM, embed digital watermarks but the physical copy can be still scanned by increasingly sophisticated scanners. Many of the books that are raising eyebrows are not available today digitally so it’s fair to assume the source is the physical book.
Whilst I cannot speak about Scribd.com, I am happy to share how we address these issues at http://www.edocr.com.
We take down content as soon as the copyright owner informs us of copyright violations. To date, we had no such requests. One reason for this is we are much smaller than Scribd.com in terms of documents hosted. Second reason is that we are concentrating on servicing the business user instead of the consumer.
Nevertheless, this is something we have to monitor on regular basis.
On the other hand, we take down documents on promotion of sex, drugs, terrorism, racism and any form of violence as soon as such material is brought to our attention. We have banned one account recently and warned another in the past.
Hope above is of some use.
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