Scribd’s Blunder

Two months ago, Scribd launched a new premium program to encourage people to upload content or pay a small fee to the free document hosting site in exchange for downloading a document file. There was an instant and near universal reprehension for the program.

Instead of giving users an opportunity to opt-out, Scribd without asking put non-commercial work behind an account wall before allowing it to be downloaded. I think the program, in and or itself, is a fine idea, and I would have happily submitted my content to the test program. To stay open, a business has to find revenue, and I think lots of people will eventually participate. I actually like that Scribd is encouraging people to abandon silly notions of government-granted intellectual property rights.

As a Scribd representative pointed out, content is still free to browse online. It is also now easier for a user to remove content by going to his or her account settings page. The company really damaged its reputation in the marketplace, and this provides an opportunity for competitors.

People do not like being sold on the idea of one thing just to be baited into something else.

Image credit:, with a Creative Commons license