Hard to believe, but a Web site that makes copyright infringement easy has received $300,000 in venture backing and hired the same law firm used by YouTube. The three-week-old site is Scribd.com. The founders say it "lets you publish and discover documents online. It's like a big online library where anyone can upload."
The founders, Trip Adler and Jared Friedman, say they got the idea for the cyber-swapfest for documents when they found it difficult to publish some of their own school papers online. The site says, "Scribd is for noncommercial sharing of personal documents only," But in the three weeks it's been live, Scribed has received about two dozen "take down notices" related to copyrighted material that's been uploaded. For instance, it's simple to find a PDF of Thomas Friedman's best seller or a story from Business 2.0. There's more coming, for sure.
TechCrunch said it was told Scribd is getting about 100,000 visitors a day and 12,000 documents have been uploaded.
The site makes getting content very easy, and like a fast food hamburger, you can get it the way you want. It lets you upload a Word document and download it as html or PDF or text. You can even use a text-to-speech tool to create an audio file out of Friedman's file, so you can download it to an iPod.
Besides the “sharing” feature of YouTube, Scribd has also borrowed the social networking angle of Digg.com. Visitors can vote for their favorite items, and they move up the list of popular documents.
No wonder these guys have retained the Wilson, Sonsini law firm. If Scribd catches on, there's work there for decades.