You are on page 1of 1

“There may be other sites that share your perspective on ‘newsworthiness’ that would be more

amenable to helping you share unedited "unquestionably disturbing" [source material]. Scribd is
not it. We can play semantic games with the terms all day, but haphazard or not…you are not
going to successfully argue that Scribd cannot remove this content from the site”

— Scribd employee, in an email sent March 15, 2019

following the removal of certain newsworthy source material from this account


Since 2011, Scribd has served as a trustworthy partner in disseminating newsworthy,

original source material of relevance and importance on a variety of current event topics. On this
account alone, more than 7 million page views have been logged on a variety of newsworthy
documents that have been linked to by a variety of national and international news organizations,
including the New York Times, VICE Magazine, TechCrunch, USA Today, the Washington Post
and others who found these documents contributed substantially as a complement to their news
coverage on different events. Those news organizations likely felt, as I did, that Scribd was a
reliable delivery partner in ensuring that material would be preserved and available to interested
parties who wished to read it.

On March 15, 2019, Scribd made a unilateral decision to remove newsworthy source
material that shattered the trust journalists and news organizations place in the platform — first
on the basis that the content violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (a notice that would
have been fraudulently filed because the content creator was in no position to challenge its
publication on this platform at the time), then later by wrongly asserting the content violated
Scribd’s lengthy Terms of Service.

In several email exchanges, Scribd stood by its decision to remove the source material,
saying the service had broad authority to decide what content should be hosted on its service and
reserving the exclusive right to remove anything it considered to be “inappropriate.” Two terms
outlined in its Terms of Service were cited as reasons why the content was removed — terms
that did not apply to the content in question. Journalistic context was not a determining factor in
whether to preserve or remove content, Scribd said.

Scribd undoubtedly wants to present itself as an advocate for good, quality journalism
— it even has a partnership with the New York Times that offers digital audiobooks and digital
access to Times journalism. But its decision here to remove newsworthy source material flies in
the face of both publication and press freedoms that reporters around the world work tirelessly to
advocate for — in some cases, sacrificing years of their lives in prison and in extreme cases
paying the ultimate price in the pursuit of journalism in order to publish the unfiltered truth about
what is happening in their world.

Scribd’s decision indicates it is no longer interested in supporting the journalists who

have the courage to publish what others wish would remain hidden. In protest, the material you
sought to review has been temporarily removed until Scribd better clarifies their position on
these matters in an open and candid letter to the public.