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Archive for July, 2007

Scribd now blocks DRMed PDF uploads

Scribd logo Remember my recent post about Scribd accepting DRMed PDF uploads and converting them to a range of formats, among which unencumbered PDF? Well, it seems like this feature now belongs to the past (hat tip to C2162 and Josh for the heads-up).

If you try to upload a DRMed PDF file now, you bump into the following warning:

Scribd’s conversion system determined that you uploaded a PDF that is encrypted and protected by password security. Unfortunately, due to legal restrictions, Scribd is unable to accept password-protected PDFs. If you own the rights to the document you uploaded, we’d love it if you could upload a non-encrypted version of the same document!

If you believe this message to be in error, or have any other questions, please send us an email at support@scribd.com Thanks!

It’s worth noting here that Scribd’s uploader does not only refuse to convert the DRMed PDF to other formats, it also interferes with (and ultimately blocks) the upload itself, something that Scribd is legally not required to do, as far as I know. This behavior is different from Gmail’s, which dealt with a similar loophole last year: Gmail’s View as HTML functionality is now crippled when used with DRMed PDF files, but sending or saving such PDFs is of course still possible.

Sony’s eyeVio failing to gain traction?

On April 26, Sony unveiled eyeVio, a Japanese video sharing site with a rather unusual two-sided approach to copyright issues.

First of all, eyeVio’s upload wizard has support for Creative Commons licenses—a rather unexpected architectural feature, and possibly Sony’s first ever CC implementation. Good.

With regard to the issue of copyright infringements, the Reuters article covering the eyeVio launch points out that “[u]nlike YouTube [...] Sony said it would closely monitor content on the service.” This means that Sony editors will pro-actively delete all videos that look like non-authorized uploads of copyrighted clips—a strategy that is completely different from YouTube’s more laid-back approach of only taking action when a c&d has been issued.

With this unusual copyright approach, it seems like Sony wants to profile itself as the “clean” alternative to YouTube:

[Sony's] model would appeal to companies looking to release content and to protect their image, said Sony spokesman Takeshi Honma.
“We believe there’s a need for a clean and safe place where companies can place their advertisements,” Honma said.

By choosing for this careful strategy, eyeVio takes on the burden of monitoring all content that users upload—a tedious and error-prone task—, whereas for YouTube sticking to the c&d mechanism seems to shield it from liability (for now); more important however is the fact that, by deploying this overzealous copyright policy, eyeVio deprives itself of exactly that what makes YouTube such a great service for both users and the content industry. Tim Wu, in an October 2006 Slate article:

The notice-and-takedown system gives content owners the twin advantages of exposure and control. When stuff is on YouTube, the owners have an option. They can leave it posted there, if they want people to see it, and build buzz. But they can also snap their fingers and bring it all down. And for someone who is juggling her desire for publicity against her need for control, that’s ultimately a nice arrangement.

In other words, by preemptively nuking all non-authorized but nevertheless buzz generating content uploads, eyeVio might might very well shoot itself in the foot: users and marketers stay away from such a site.

eyeVio graph

And it seems like that is exactly what is happening… A quick look at this week’s popular video ranking reveals that the most popular clip has been viewed 157 times so far. Not quite a success, and dwarfed by the views on the Grouper.com media sharing site Sony bought a while ago. Alexa’s daily pageviews numbers (partial as they are) seem to confirm this observation: although traffic peeked at launch, two months later, the number of eyeVio visitors has dropped dramatically.

I seriously doubt eyeVio will be around for a very long time…

Update: since last week, Grouper has become Crackle.