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French eBook Trade Group Finds Pirated eBooks on Scribd, Outrage Ensues

scribd[1]A relatively new digital publishing trade group in France is making a name for itself this week. Le Groupement pour le développement de la Lecture Numérique, or GLN for short, has released the results of a two month long study of Scribd.

Much to no one’s surprise, GLN discovered that the cloud storage service was hosting pirated ebooks. They report, via Actualitte, that they found 400 titles from French authors which had not been uploaded or licensed by the author or publisher.

Pardon me for being underwhelmed by this story, but all cloud storage services have this issue, and Scribd in particular has a bad name in the publishing industry. They have a history of hosting pirated ebooks, and even though Scribd has taken steps to limit the piracy this is a problem which I don’t see going away any time soon – not without shutting down the service entirely.

scribd-piratage-ebooks-idboox[1]And since we can’t make the problem go away, GLN is advising that authors search for their work on Scribd and pursue the usual steps to get it taken down.

In the US that would involve sending a formal DMCA complaint, which should probably also be a workable option for French authors (Scribd is a US company after all).

For some reason GLN doesn’t advise that authors send a DMCA; instead they have detailed a series of steps an author should take. In short, they involve complaining to Scribd, and should that not work expanding the  email blast to include Google, Apple, and Scribd (this threatens the Scribd apps for Android and iOS).

Google has removed ebook apps in response to similar DMCA notices before, so this move will definitely get Scribd’s attention, but if it does not then GLN advises that an author pursue legal action.

Is anyone else puzzled why this group is not advising authors on how to send a DMCA notice?

I would think that would be a basic skill they would want to promote. Many sites are hosted in or do business in the US, and I was under the impression that most are prepared to accept a DMCA notice; that is for example how you get links removed from the Google search results (even the European branches of Google).

I do wonder about a group that advises using Apple to threaten Scribd rather than first suggesting a simpler alternative like a DMCA notice.


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Barry Marks October 14, 2014 um 6:13 pm

I wonder if, since this group is French, they simply don’t know about DMCA or they aren’t used to thinking in those terms. Or perhaps they see this as part of a larger problem involving other sellers and they want to get authors in the habit of dealing with larger problems.

I think words like "amateurish" might be appropriate if you really know why they’ve chosen to do things this way, and maybe you do know why, but there’s no mention of it in your article if you do.

I’ve been reading ebook oriented blogs for about a year and I’m bothered by the muckraking tone I keep encountering. You guys come up with good ideas and good stories. I wish you’d focus more on the stories and less on your own distaste. it’s hard to read an article that begins well and is informative and inquisitive and then turns into third grade backbiting.


Nate Hoffelder October 14, 2014 um 6:24 pm

IGN wants to be a trade group, which means they should already know about the DMCA; it’s one of those basic facts of the internet which creators should either know or be capable of finding out. And if IGN didn’t know, it is at the very least something they should have researched before issuing this report.

Not having that detail raises questions of whether they know what they are talking about.

It would be like an author not bothering to look up the submission guidelines for a publisher before sending in a manuscript. Amateurish is a good word for it, I think.

Barry Marks October 15, 2014 um 12:14 pm

I’m sure everyone in the USA involved in publishing knows about the DMCA, as do a lot of people like me who aren’t involved but are interested bystanders.

But you’re talking about people in a country that don’t live under US law and have no real reason to know or care about it.

I mentioned this article to a few friends after I posted yesterday and only one of them had any idea what the DMCA was and even that person only knew it had something to do with copyright. And these were all people born in and living in the USA and who read a lot. How much do people in other countries know about our laws?

Also I wonder if DMCA can be considered an internet issue, which implies that it’s somehow worldwide.



TheSFReader October 15, 2014 um 2:47 pm

French reader here. People in the GLN know/should know about the DMCA.

It may NOT apply since we’re not US people, but I guess having the same format of letter as the DMCA could…

Catherine M. Wilson October 15, 2014 um 12:32 pm

I am now on my 4th round of sending DMCA notices to Google docs for the same books. The books get taken down, but they go right back up again. I also found my books on Scribd, but only once. When they take them down, they put code in place to detect and prevent future uploads of the same book. I wish Google could figure out how to do that.

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