Scribd… Publisher of all things stolen…

In recent weeks it seems not a day goes by without me getting a notification of a stolen article that has been uploaded into Scribd ( To be fair to them, every time I’ve written to ask them to remove the content they have done, but I’m failing to see the business model here. From what I can see the whole site is just made up of stolen PowerPoint, PDF, Word and HTML files. There seems to be little if any original content present at all.

As far as my own slides and html files are concerned, the users uploading them seem to make a habit of uploading anything they can get their hands on. I’ve also seen copies of Oracle books in PDF format, which look like they have been scanned in manually, and even the whole Oracle documentation in PDF format uploaded.

I just don’t see the incentive for the users of this site. What is the point of uploading documents that are already freely available on the net. Surely just a link in your favorites list is all you need. In the case of plagiarists, they are trying to pass work off as their own, but that is not what Scribd users seem to do. They just upload the content as-is. Why? I just don’t get it.

Anyway, if you publish any content and you are bored one day, have a search through Scribd (using your domain name, blog URL or real name) and you will probably find something of yours that has been stolen. If you do, follow the Copyright link at the bottom of the page and it will tell you how to send a DCMA takedown notice. They usually respond pretty quickly. I guess if everyone did this the site would be empty and they would probably move on to some other form of organised crime. 🙂



Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.

8 thoughts on “Scribd… Publisher of all things stolen…”

  1. I went through a phase where I’d try to save useful blog posts. Mark Rittman has his blog disaster in 2006 with most material recovered by other people’s copies. Most of Dizwell’s material is gone permanently.

    I still keep copies of most of the PDFs that are available. And I have an offline copy of the Oracle documentation too (as it did go through a time where availability wasn’t 100%).

    So I’ve got a USB drive with my collection of “useful material”. The difficulty with local copies was/is search. Scridb seems to have that covered.

    Then its ‘baby steps’ to storing that in a ‘cloud’ rather than locally. If the content is free, then is scribd much different from Google cache or the Internet archive.

  2. Hi.

    Gary: There’s a big dirrerence. I choose to let Google index my content. I can also choose to stop it.

    Also, how many people use the google cache in preference to the real site? Not many.

    If I choose to upload my content to scribd that is my choice. Nobody else has that right.

    I can understand wanting an offline/permanent copy of content, and that is fine. What you have on your hard drive is your concern. Republishing it is very much my concern, and illegal without my permission.

    What scribed users are doing is absolutely and positively illegal. Buzzwords like cloud do not make it less illegal.

    Rant over. 🙂



  3. Well, if you look at the about page on scribd, you see it is pronounced skribbed. Perhaps it should be “cribbed.”

    So they say it is the world’s biggest book club.

    Perusing their homepage, I see something called “Lavender.” I did not know Snoopy was gay. I’ve suspected some of the other Peanuts characters. I learned something new today. That I should not have dressed up as Snoopy when I worked at the toy store.

  4. Scribd doesn’t appear to be free any more. They charge a subscription to download from the “scribd community” unless you upload a document in exchange for the one you have downloaded. I just uploaded a document containing the single word “the” in order to download something, saving me the $5 subscription fee (that’s the fee for 1 day). However on closer inspection of the downloaded document it turns out to be copyrighted to someone who isn’t scribd. In other words: scribd appears to make its money by selling other people’s intellectual property. I wonder if it pays royalties to the rightful owners? Hmmm… Presumably their defence is that they will take the stuff down if asked. However (willful) ignorance isn’t normally a valid defence in a case of handling stolen goods afaik.

  5. Thanks for the article, however i cannot find the copyright link. Somebody has up loaded some of my company docs and i need them removed. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  6. Hi.

    There is a link on the page footer called “Copyright”. Scroll down the page and look in the charcoal color footer area. I was going to say, “You can’t miss it”, but obviously you can. 🙂



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