Sunday, May 11, 2014
Scribd’s Improved Copyright Protection Systems Reaping Results for Smashwords Authors
Today, their site hosts 50 million documents and books, receives thousands of new uploads every day, and is visited by 80 million monthly readers from over 100 different countries.
The downside of their ease-of-upload, however, is that many users – often enthusiastic readers who don’t understand or respect copyright – attempt to upload unauthorized, copyrighted works, including the ebooks of many Smashwords authors. It’s the same challenge YouTube faces with unauthorized video uploads.
Following our announcement in December that Smashwords would soon begin supplying ebooks to Scribd, both for retail sales and for inclusion in their subscription service, I heard from several Smashwords authors who were understandably upset to discover unauthorized versions of their books at Scribd.
Some questioned why we would partner with Scribd. As I’ve shared with authors who have expressed concern, and as I’ll reiterate here, we wouldn’t have partnered with Scribd if we weren't confident their heart was in the right place, and if we weren't confident our relationship with Scribd would benefit all indie authors.
Scribd has 80 million readers, and we’ve got over 300,000 books. We want to connect those readers' eyeballs and wallets and purses with our books. We want our authors to receive the full payment they deserve for their hard work.
Scribd wants the same thing. Scribd wants to do right by the indie author community because they know their business is dependent upon earning and deserving the trust and support of authors everywhere.
With Scribd’s enthusiastic blessing, I orchestrated a conference call in January for Scribd’s top executives with several concerned Smashwords authors. Scribd wanted to hear our authors' concerns, and then after listening Scribd shared their plans to combat the unauthorized uploads.
At the end of the call, Scribd shared how they planned to release a major update to their copyright protection system in the next few weeks.
I’m pleased to report that Scribd is delivering. Scribd has made some impressive strides over the last few months toward eradicating unauthorized content.
Scribd has since renamed their copyright protection technology Book ID. In a nutshell, here's how it works: BookID automatically scans all Smashwords-delivered books, and analyzes the text for semantic data such as word count, letter frequency, phrases, and other elements. BookID then creates a digital fingerprint of the authorized Smashwords book, and uses this fingerprint to automatically detect and remove unauthorized versions. It proactively removes all files at Scribd that match the same fingerprint, and also uses this fingerprint to proactively block the upload of future unauthorized versions.
Simply by distributing to Scribd via Smashwords, our authors receive a measure of protective benefit from the BookID technology.
I want to share some hard numbers with you to illustrate the progress Scribd has made to respect and protect the copyright of Smashwords books.
As of January 9, the BookID had detected and removed 3,745 book files from Scribd representing 1,725 unique Smashwords books.
In March, Scribd released a new and improved version of BookID, as they promised they would during their call with the Smashwords authors. The new BookID system has dramatically increased Scribd’s ability to detect unauthorized versions.
As of today, Scribd reports to me BookID has removed 47,858 unauthorized copies of 14,090 unique Smashwords books.
Although no automated scanning system will every be 100% accurate, I’m pleased by the progress and effort made by our friends at Scribd. I’m pleased that every visitor to the Scribd home page is prompted to purchase a paid subscription to Scribd’s service, because this converts free readers to paid readers for the benefit of Smashwords authors.
Thanks to the support of Smashwords authors who now supply 225,000 titles to Scribd, it's getting tougher for users to upload unauthorized content. With every new Smashwords title delivered, the cleanup continues. The situation will improve further as Scribd enhances their BookID technology in the future.
Learn more about Scribd's BookID technology at http://www.scribd.com/copyright/bookid and learn more about Scribd’s commitment to protect your copyright at their new and improved Copyright Resource Center.
I’ll report more exciting Scribd news tomorrow regarding the impressive sales growth we're seeing at Scribd, plus some other big news so stay tuned!