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Scribd.com Comes to the Dark Side (evilreads.com)
139 points by timf on Sept 2, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 32 comments

While I can for sure appreciate the Scribd service, charging for 24 hour access to "archives" is just silly. It reminds me of Rapidshare, which isn't exactly a brand to live up to.

On the other hand. So does the website that posted the article and requires a login to read the follow-up.

I like that someone called Scribed out and they fixed the situation.

What exactly do you like about Scribd? Every experience I had with is has been negative. Their reader sucks and to download a pdf you have to register. When somebody posts a link to Scribd I always end up searching for another place on the internet that has it. I don't see any value Scribd provides.

I never said I "liked" the scribd service, only that I could appreciate what they are doing, not necessarily the monetization.

Except that they didn't really fix anything, because almost no one knows Scribd distributes their content and hence hardly anyone will enable that setting.

The charges only applied to downloading the documents, not viewing them in their HTML5 or FlashPaper viewer.

From the comments section:

UPDATE! Evil Wylie contacted Scribd and successfully negotiated a resolution. Scribd now offers the option for an author to PERMANENTLY OPT ALL DOCUMENTS OUT of the "archives." This is effective immediately. This doesn't mean that what they did was right (although their terms and conditions allow them to basically do whatever), but they do respond to complaints rather swiftly.

Smart move by Scribd. Diffuse a lot of the "SCRIBD IS PURE EVIL!!!!!" complaints, but only a fraction of a percent of documents will get opted out, so the impact on their revenue is negligible.


What complicates things, and makes them worse, is that a large amount of the content is uploaded by people who are not the original authors/publishers, and don't actually have the rights.

As far as I can tell, Scribd's primary business model is monetizing pirated content.

Just last week I found a research paper I published while at Cornell on Scribd -- no attribution at all, no permissions, etc. It's a paper that in normal circulation costs $50 to purchase (and has been purchased a few thousand times -- whether $50 is reasonable or not is a discussion for another thread, of course).

I considered letting my editor know about it to see if she wanted me to request it be taken down, but then I figured I'd rather more people see the paper anyway so left it alone.

I'd rather more people see the paper anyway so left it alone.

I would ask the uploader to add proper attribution though.

The problem, of course, is that you should've been the one making the decision in the first place.

The article is probably in an academic journal and the author doesn't have rights to decide what to do with it.

(Scribd may be evil, but academic publishing is like a coven of necromancers)

As far as I can tell, Scribd's primary business model is monetizing pirated content.

So basically it's YouTube, but for documents.

Yeah, but youtube doesn't charge you to watch the videos...

And Scribd doesn't charge you to read the documents. And for some of their videos, YouTube allows you to download them for a fee.


YouTube has ads on videos. It's the same as a TV station airing a pirated DVD and selling the ads

Youtube goes to a great deal of trouble to only have ads on verified content.

YouTube is still monetised by advertising... still making profit, though I guess its more upfront.

Except people post whole books to Scribed, while on YouTube, you can't post a whole ripped DVD in one post.

That doesn't give it any ethical high ground though...

This move to re-sell the archives is really surprising -- I can certainly tell you that Scribd doesn't make much money selling electronic documents (i.e., ebooks) right now.

The conversion rate there is b-a-d bad--my experience has been ~3 sales per 200+k reads. Other publishers have seen similar rates. They have an audience who is simply not willing to pay.

As far as I can tell, Scribd's primary business model is monetizing pirated content.

I agree completely.

The entire system appears designed to take advantage of the fact that users will upload just about anything, and the rights holders have to actively monitor the whole of the internet for each possible infraction to protect their rights.

So if you ask them nicely not to be bottomfeeding scammers, they'll be happy to oblige, effective immediately and permanently, for your documents.

scribd responds

Why am i asked for a login to see their response?

And to clarify, it is evelreads that is asking you to login, rather than scribd

I was half-expecting to be charged a $9 subscription fee to see the content, but then they'd have to fail to pay themselves to make the joke complete.

Scribd should be upfront with both authors and readers about this tactic. It's very disappointing, and makes me wonder about how various other services are using content that is uploaded/distributed to them on the basis that users can access it for free.

I clicked on the "UPDATE: Scribd Responds!" link, only to get a page with this message:

>You are attempting to access a resource on this site which is restricted. Please login below. After re-logging in, you will be automatically directed to the page you were attempting to access.

Thanks for letting me know, i've gone and disabled that setting in scribd.

Seriously: what's the point of Scribd? All they do - show your document along with ads all over the place and let people download the source PDF after registration. Why not to just put PDF on your site in the first place?

I found it a somewhat more palatable alternative to SlideShare because I was a big fan of the HTML 5 viewer, but I had no idea this was part of their plan. It's a nasty bait-and-switch which isn't signaled when you upload at all.

Not too happy with that.

Or better yet, try not to use a PDF (I know there are some practical examples of why PDF's are good, but in general they could be avoided most of the time) and use markup instead.

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