Screen shot 2010-09-02 at 11.06.08 AM.pngThis is a part of a post from author Lynn Viehl’s Paperback Writer blog.. It deserves to be read in full, but I must point out that I can’t verify anything that it contains:

It’s been brought to my attention that has begun charging people to download my free e-books hosted on their site. To get around my copyright and the free distribution notice I’ve placed in each e-book, they are using an archive subscription scam to make their money (this also neatly avoids them having to pay me any royalties on the profits they make.) Evidently all the money they’ve been raking in from the Google ads they’ve posted on my e-book pages hasn’t been enough for them.

I was not made aware of this new policy by Scribd at all; a reader kindly brought it to my attention. If you have free stories or documents hosted on this site, chances are they’re doing the same to you.

I immediately contacted and demanded an explanation, which they provided at their leisure. Basically they washed their hands of any liability and ethics by telling me it was my problem, not theirs. In order to prevent Scribd from further profiting from my free books, I have to remove each e-book individually from their archives (for instructions on how to do this, see Scribd’s instructions here.) As I discovered this morning this is going to take a considerable amount of time for me to accomplish, and it’s not a permanent solution; they tell me I’ll have to check the documents regularly to see to it that they aren’t arbitrarily returned to the archive, where Scribd can then again start charging people to download them.

I find the situation particularly ironic, as anyone can bootleg my work on the internet with no problem, yet when I try to give it away for free, greedy people still try to make a buck off it. Writers just can’t win.

Thanks to Michael Pastore for the link.


  1. I think that this article is sad but true.
    I have just looked at some of my “free” documents on Scribd, the documents I thought I was sharing with the world, free.
    After finding the document’s page on Scribd, I created another account, then tried to download this “free” document.
    Months ago, it was simple and free to download any free Scribd document.
    Not anymore.
    Now, up pops a box that asks for $ 9 per month (“most popular”), or $ 5 per 24 hours, or $ 59 for 1 year.
    I do not recall hearing about this policy change.
    I am disappointed in Scribd.

  2. I wonder – If an author issued a DMCA take down notice on the grounds that Scribd is charging for the document (and thereby making a commercial profit) would they honor it?

    Or could an author, or the author’s attorney, send a letter demanding the works be distributed free as indicated by the author.

    Both would seemingly force Scribd to handle the situation themselves and face retaliation if they ‘accidentally’ recover something from archives.

  3. Thanks for this news. I was considering posting some of my books to Scribd. Now, I think I will avoid them. Even if pressure from authors forces them to change this particular policy, the same attitude will simply surface in some other way.

  4. I was going to wait ’til this afternoon when I got up to cover this, as EvilReads had a post covering a response from Scribd that wasn’t available last night when I went to bed, and I wanted to find out what that response was first.

    As it turns out, it’s in an editorial on the Huffington Post. Scribd’s SVP of Marketing explains that the fee is to cover the costs of running the servers, that all content remains free to read, and that Scribd is implementing a new feature to make it easier for authors to remove their content from the archive.

  5. From Scribd’s website

    “Exempting Your Documents From the Scribd Archive–
    You can also permanently exempt all of your documents from being placed in the Archive. To do so, open your Account Settings and look for the section labeled “The Scribd Archive”. Check the box next to “Do not include my documents in the Scribd Archive program,” then click the Save Changes button.

    As long as this box is checked your documents will remain out of the Archive.”

  6. In my earlier post, I forgot to mention that Scribd offers an alternative to paying: if you upload a document, you can get free (for 24 hours) access to download any of the of “free” documents in the Archive.

    According the HuffPo article (thanks, Chris), you can still read the “free” Scribd documents online — free. I logged in and verified this. It’s also still free to send the document to any email address, in different formats for different devices. (That’s a useful feature.)

    Unless you pay or upload, you can no longer download the “free” documents, nor can you print them for free (using the “download and print button”).

    Carl, thanks, I will get my documents out of the Archive.

    The New York Times tried “Premium Content” for a while, but they didn’t make much money from it, and the result was that their top editorial writers were read much, much less frequently. The authors whose essays and articles consistently defended the poor and middle class — and delivered messages of hope and insight to the poor and middle class — were being read only by people who could afford the premium content. Eventually, and wisely, the the NYT ended that failed experiment.

    It’s difficult to begin charging for something that had been offered free. The way it might work is to offer something more or something better.

    Scribd, you can fix this tactical mistake by simply making the Archive “opt-in” instead of “opt-out”.

  7. I got very angry when I found out about scribd starting to charge. This is what I did and recommend you follow suit. Delete all documents you have published on Scribd.

  8. I just spent an hour trying to figure out how to print a great lab for my science class of of scribd without paying for a subscription. I found a VERY funny workaround. Select “mobile” instead print. Then select “iPhone” (even if you don’t have one). There is an option to select “pdf” and send it to your email address instead of your SMS phone number. I just emailed myself the pdf! And I couldn’t download it from the site. How dumb. But whatever. I have what I need for my students!

  9. Hi Paul, yah you are right. Just logged in now to check and there was some message about archive. Then I signed out and had to pay to download documents that are labelled free. Real bummer especially since the authors don’t get paid, not even part of the amount!
    Regards Eddie

  10. salam
    thank you so much for the help offered by scribd .And i really will be gratefull if you can send me novels of the south african writer nadine gordimer ;what i need is her early novels like “occasions for loving”,”world of strangers”,”the lying days “, july’s people”.It is also my request to the visitors of this site.
    thank you

  11. scribd is not paying to authors anything, yet they ask money to the readers. you can’t even read the whole documents anymore, let alone print it. they say “Selling documents on Scribd is currently only available to users within the United States”, so 80% of their readers can’t purchase nor can they read for free. 80% of the readers are just out of the picture. scribd is going to fail miserably and i hope some of the writers (those who shared their works for free and now their works are charged, but they are not paid any royalties) will sue scribd as soon as possible. scribd sucks!!! and what do you expect – the founders are jews!

  12. everybody should erase the documents they uploaded!!! if everybody did that, they’d fail, as they deserve! it all started with a lie (that they’re for free, but it’s all part of the plan, they waited until they reached a very large number of books on their servers and then – bang! money on the table), it should end like a scam. they earned a lot of cash from publicity, they receaved funds, all that covers the maintenance costs and even more, but the money-thirsty jews are never satisfied!

  13. Scribd’s actions of not bothering to tell it’s contributors is what makes this behaviour so abhorrent. I won’t be visiting that site any more.

    The article was an excellent one, spoiled only by the closing swipe of self pity ….

  14. My book was supposed to cost $14, but I haven’t seen a cent. Number of reads is over 1,500. I specified the sample pages to be viewed — just a few, but I saw where on the same page you can press a button and get the entire book for free. Though I have not seen a cent, when I tried to remove the book, I was told it would need to be made available because those who paid for it must still be given access to it. What a bunch of freakin’ THIEVES. Times are tough financially, so do I want to hire an attorney and go after these lowlifes? They’re probably thinking most authors won’t bother.

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