Screenshot of one of my 52 cards on Scribd
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I’ve noticed a few of my 52 playing cards for ballet turning up on Scribd, and it’s annoying me. Look at the screenshot above of my transcription of the Pas de Deux from Le Talisman, and you’ll see what I mean. As with all the playing cards I’ve posted here, there is a notice saying clearly that the music is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike Non-Commercial licence. That means you’re free to share it, distribute it, rework it etc. but only under the same conditions that I made it available, i.e. free. Scribd is a commercial site that charges a monthly fee to access the material that people upload to it. If someone puts my arrangements on Scribd, it means that Scribd are getting income from material which shouldn’t be behind their paywall, and they’re also directing traffic away from my site, and on to Scribd, to get the same material.

I’ve looked into the form that Scribd give for notifying copyright violations, and apart from the fact that it seems you have to be a Scribd member to post it (which seems unfair?), the language they use is pretty litigious—e.g. that if you inform them of a violation that turns out not to be a genuine violation after all, they might take legal action against you. In the case of the 52 cards, I’m not willing to take that risk, because it’s not a clear case of copyright violation, it’s in some grey area that is hard to unravel.

I don’t think the pianists who’ve uploaded my Creative Commons music to Scribd mean anything bad by it, but in doing so, they are putting my free stuff behind a third-party paywall. This is against the spirit (and possibly the letter) of the licence on my 52 cards), and they’re directing traffic away from my site. I’ve paid for my own webhosting for 18 years so readers don’t have to endure third-party adverts on my site; I upload stuff for free with Share-Alike licences on it so it can be used freely in the contexts for which it was largely aimed, and I work at SEO so that if someone searches for something that I’ve arranged and posted, my site should be higher up the search engine results. At the moment, I’m seeing cases where Scribd are above me in the searches for MY material, and that’s a bit galling.

2 thought on “Please do not post my free downloads on Scribd: here’s why”
  1. That is horrendous! I cannot believe someone posted it on Scribd… 52 Playing Cards scores and articles have helped me to gain knowledges to become better pianist and whoever posted should feel ashamed as a musician.

    1. To be fair, or at least, charitable, I’m pretty sure that whoever did it thought they were being helpful by collecting music for class in one place. They have nothing to gain from it personally, only Scribd, who gain the appearance of more content, and hits to their site. I just wish more people would read the small print, on everything!

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist