What the Hell is Scribd?

I’d heard of Scribd.com on a number of occasions, but never visited. I’d heard it described as the place to find illegal copies of protected works, but imagined–stupidly so, as it turns out–such descriptions to be overblown. As it turns out, there definitely is copyright material posted on Scribd.com, and it took me all of 20 seconds (literally, I timed it) to sign up and download a copy of a work I know to be still be very much protected.

I won’t mention the name of the book, to avoid broadcasting it (to my entire audience of one, of course). Visiting the site, however, one finds that the book is not alone. In less than five minutes, I located (through a handful of simple searches) 10 copyright works. I stopped there. And according the site itself, “over 17 million people a month” view documents on the site.

How, precisely, does this site survive? I’m going to let them know about the copyrighted material and see what happens…

Update: Actually, I just read a little further in their FAQs. Apparently, common folk can’t let them know about clear copyright violations. Rather, only copyright holders can ask them to take down infringing materials. This is ludicrous, of course: it means that every copyright holder must maintain eternal vigilance over this site (and any others), and that the owners and operators of Scribd have no responsibility whatsoever to ensure that their site isn’t used for wholesale copyright violations.

Again, my question: how does this site survive?

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