Should this bother me, or not?

As I was editing Open Access: What You Need to Know Now, I wanted to check something online and did a poorly-formulated initial search, “validation through linking.” (I was using a blind quote and should be naming the writer.)

Much to my surprise, the second of two Bing results is “Libre accès & bibliothèques: 2001-2009 (W. Crawford),” pointing to Scribd. Huh? Sure, there may be lots of other W. Crawfords, but there was something awfully familiar about that title.

So I clicked on the link and, lo, what do I see but Open Access and Libraries: Essays from Cites & Insights, 2001-2009–uploaded by one Fabrizio Tinti and given an Italian title.

I’m not sure just where this came from. I don’t think it’s the final, free PDF that’s available from Lulu; the typography’s wrong–and I see that right apostrophes (that is, apostrophes) are being rendered as oddly misplaced left quotes, which is garbage. There are spacing problems and other issues. (Oh, wait: If I allow Scribd to set typeface, the apostrophes show up as apostrophes and italics are once again italics, but there’s still some odd spacing. Maybe it is the PDF and Scribd just treats it oddly.)

On one hand…

The PDF is explicitly labeled as having a Creative Commons BY-NC license. I’m assuming Tinti isn’t getting any revenue from this, so there’s nothing illegal here. (Well, the title simply isn’t the title of the book, so in that sense it’s a misattribution…)

I suppose I could be flattered that Tinti went to the trouble and appreciate the extra readership–it’s apparently been “read” more than 80 times, although I doubt that any sane person would read a 513-page book on Scribd.

On the other…

  1. Tinti never told me that this upload was taking place. That’s certainly not illegal, but it’s not particularly polite.
  2. Scribd lards the free book with a lot of ads. A lot of ads. Two display ads and a whole shitload of Google ads on the frame, and more ads–sigh, many of them for “online schools”–in between pages. I find that a terribly distracting way to read something, and am a little offended that my document is being used to display all those ads. Actually, from that perspective, this is a violation of my Creative Commons license: Effectively, the book is being used for commercial purposes. (The sidebar ads are one thing. Those damn banners after every other page–quite another.)

Lean back and enjoy it?

Maybe I have no right to complain here. I don’t see any function on Scribd to complain. I don’t know that I’d actually ask to have this removed–the book is, in fact, OA by intention. But the lack of notification and the sheer volume of ads both bother me.

Or maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy?

Oh, maybe I should add: The Bing summary is “Excluding the poor from accessing biomedical literature: a rights violation that impedes global health 180 reads”–and, you know, “rights violation” just doesn’t appear in the book. I know: I wrote it–and I just checked the .docx file. This does not make me jump with joy.

7 Responses to “Should this bother me, or not?”

  1. bh says:

    Walt, this sort of thievery is much more common than you might think. One of my google alerts (“osteosarcoma”) throws up many of the same articles time and time again, under different bylines. A lot of the sites which host these articles are obviously bogus spam sites, but it is very hard to tell with some. And sometimes some articles seem to have been put through some kind of parser to change the language. Some articles have obviously been put through a translator also.

  2. Steven Kaye says:

    E-mail Tinti and say “What the hell?” (or find someone with better French than my remnants of high school lessons to do so) – he’s a librarian at the Université catholique de Louvain, the BSPOLink page has his work email. Weird thing is, he’s linked to Cites and Insights and to your Lulu page for The Liblog Landscape ( in the past.

  3. walt says:

    [Both comments rescued from spam]

    bh: It’s not thievery. The book has a Creative Commons BY-NC license, so the only issue is the ads at Scribd, and the person who did this does not get that revenue (I believe). Take away the ads, and there’s no issue other than (a) politeness–the idea that you might let someone know when you’re copying their book–and (b) the title provided for the page. Neither one is big enough to be anywhere near “thievery” level, and the uploaded book very clearly carries my name on the title page and in the identification.

    Steven: I might do that. Thanks.

  4. Fabrizio Tinti says:

    Dear Mr. Crawford,
    I am sorry about that. I do not get any revenue of course. You are completely right, I should have mentionned the CC and let you know that I was linking to your document.
    All my apologies.
    Best Regards,
    Fabrizio Tinti

  5. walt says:

    Fabrizio: No real harm done–but in the future, you probably shouldn’t upload other people’s documents to Scribd, or any site that is so ad-heavy, without advance notice or without assuring that they use a CC BY, not a BY-NC license. You aren’t making money from my document; Scribd clearly is.

  6. Fabrizio Tinti says:

    Ok, I understand. Sorry again for the trouble and thank you for the advice. In the meantime, I have closed that account. – Regards, Fabrizio

  7. JW says:

    Never been here till now.
    Just had to say that i think it was a very stand up thing for Fabrizio to post. It shows good character.