I Used DMCA

» 22 April 2009 » In Opinion, PHP, Talks »

Yes, it’s true.

A recent post on Twitter from @atourino pointed to my VIM for (PHP) Programmers slidedeck on scribd.com. The slidedeck has been really popular, gathering close to 50,000 views, 2,500 downloads, a few dozen favorites ratings, and a “Hot” award. Good deal, eh? Except that I didn’t upload this slidedeck—someone else did.

Scribd’s about page describes it as the place “where you publish, discover and discuss original writings and documents”. I’ve used it in the past to find all kinds of documents and there’s a lot to like about the site, but the keyword here is “original”. I really don’t mind sharing the slides—heck, I tell everyone at conferences to download them from my site—but on my Talks page I specifically ask people to obtain permission before re-publishing the slides elsewhere. It’s not a difficult thing to do. So far I’ve resisted putting a copyright notice on every slide, because I was hoping the common sense would apply, but apparently not for everyone.

I contacted Scribd’s customer support to see how I could take the ownership of the document in question. They replied that I would have to submit a DMCA copyright infringement notice and ask for the document to be taken down. I understand that this is their policy, but I think this is going overboard, especially for a case like mine. I really wanted to handle this in a polite manner and in such a way that people’s links to the document wouldn’t break instead of doing the dickish move of demanding it be removed completely. At the same time, I feel that the person who uploaded my slides without permission was wrong. Thus, I had no choice but to send the DMCA notice along with a request for the document to be re-assigned to me.

I would encourage everyone to be more careful in handling publicly available content. Please check for any restrictions on usage and publishing, and if in doubt—ask. This will help avoid resorting to heavy-handed stuff like DMCA notices.

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