The other day I was looking about the net for a couple of free books that I knew were around somewhere. I had copies backed up somewhere on my file server, but I had a pretty good idea of where to find them on the net and downloading only takes a moment, so it just seemed simpler to do it that way. I’m lazy like that.
The books in question? A series of non-fiction on writing, written by S.L. Viehl. She has written an excellent series that includes some planning worksheets that i’ve found useful in the past and kindly made them available free online.
I tracked them down on Scribd, where they have always lived, and was quite surprised to find I couldn’t download them. Apparently their policies have changed and in order to download, i’d have to pay a fee. I could still read online however. This was annoying, but I still had copies somewhere on my server, and – as it turns out – my own transcribed copies of the worksheets anyway. I shrugged and went about my business.
A few days later, I came across this.
It turns out that Scribd has started doing this to the authors of free works, but neglected to tell them!
This, then, is somewhat more serious. Scribd has, in effect, begun to sell work that it has no right to sell, profiting of the copyright’s of others without permission. It’s quite nefarious, in some ways, to build up a name as a provider of free hosting and then capture the intellectual property of your users and sell it for profit. Make no mistake, whatever their justifications that is what they have done.
In the meantime, if you have works you wish to make public and freely downloadable, try Google Docs.