B5 Systems

Smashwords Claims Copyright of TRADOC PAM 525-97 – “Soldier as a System”

On April 12, 2012, SSD shared TRADOC PAM 525-97 – “Soldier as a System”. It seemed a great fit, considering it’s a US Government document and it is the baseline for what this website is all about. We used www.Scribd.com. At the time it was a very effective way to embed .PDF documents. Earlier today, we received an email from Scribd (detailed below).

Dear solsys,

Scribd’s automated copyright protection system identified a book in your Scribd account as a copy and a possible copyright infringement of a book distributed through Smashwords. As a result, Scribd has proactively disabled access to the copy of the book titled “Soldier as a System TRADOC PAM 525-97” (id: 90878210) in your account and will be replacing it with a version distributed through Smashwords.

Scribd has recently signed an agreement with Smashwords to offer many of their titles as part of our subscription reading service. As part of this agreement, we are removing all detected copies of the Smashwords books and replacing them with the Smashwords distributed version.

If you are the author of this book, you don’t necessarily need to take any action: by default, your copy will simply be replaced by the Smashwords copy. If you would like to restore your version on Scribd, please forward this notification to copyright@scribd.com with a brief explanation of the situation. A member of our copyright team will review the matter, confirm your status as the author, and work with you to re-instate the content.

For more information about Scribd’s relationship with Smashwords, please see this article: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/12/smashwords-signs-distribution-agreement.html. For more information about Scribd.com’s copyright policy in general, there are several articles available at http://www.scribd.com/copyright.

Best regards,

Scribd support team

As you can imagine, since the document in question is a US Government creation, I was a little ticked off. Who the heck claims copyright on a US Government document? I checked SSD’s archives and sure enough, they took the TRADOC PAM down from their site and replaced it with a notice claiming that it violated copyright. I’ve since updated the article for those of you interested.


If you’re like us and want to tell SCRIBD what you think of their promoting the illegal claims by Smashwords of copyright of US Government documents, feel free to drop them a line at copyright@scribd.com.

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10 Responses to “Smashwords Claims Copyright of TRADOC PAM 525-97 – “Soldier as a System””

  1. Bill says:

    I’ve seen differing agencies at various levels of government “copyright” their work, and am amazed at some of the stuff, and the prices charged, essentially sold at retail through the GPO. There are likely fair use issues at play here also.

    I know nothing about Smashwords, but probably need to learn really fast.

  2. Mike Nomad says:

    Smashwords…ugh. I wonder how many works have been copyrighted by Smashwords, an entity that does not create content? Someone should file a lawsuit on behalf of the government (taxpaying citizens, and all that).

  3. TheHut says:

    Smashwords has a system that auto-detects items that are claimed by someone else as copyright, should a duplicate be uploaded (tons of pirated PDF bootleg copies of books can be found their in peoples collections there)

    If published by the US DOD or Govt. then a publication is generally in the public domain- specifically for, “Works prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties.”

    However there are some exceptions. Per: http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm
    21. Contractors and grantees are not considered government empoyees. Generaly they create works with copyright (though the government may own that copyright). See CENDI Frequently asked Questions about Copyright: Issues Affecting the U.S. Government (http://www.cendi.gov/publications/04-8copyright.html#toc40 )

  4. Bushman says:

    I’ve met this kind of situations before. Any commercial company could, actually, take some data distributed as Public Domain or, for example, “Creative Commons – Attribution” license. If the license does not require “Share Alike” or “Non-Commecrial Use”, like many free licenses do, they can compile these data or publication with something else (like own cover page), publish it and sell it for money. If there are some people who would like to buy it instead of downloading for free – that’s their own business.

    But, here goes the “automated copyright protection system”. Youtube has it, Scribd has it, and it’s pretty advanced and in the same time – dumb mechanism. It compares the data, published by commercial companies, with user data. If it finds the similarity, it does not understand, that this commercial publication was based on public data. So, both publisher (Smashwords) and content distribution system provider (owner of copyright protection system, Scribd) are responsible for that misconception, because it’s their responsibility to have some special clause for publications of that kind.

  5. TheHut says:

    “Smashwords” in above paragraph 1 should be “Scribd”. Smashwords
    connection is they are providing ebooks to Scribd subscription service.

    ALSO: A direct link to the document at TRADOC:

  6. Sal says:

    Yet another example of how fucked our copyright and patent systems are.

  7. Flighterdoc says:

    I had Scribd claim that the Constitution of the United States, and the Declaration of Independence, were copyrighted…..

    Fucking morons.

  8. james says:

    Please tell me that Gov lawyers are all over this an are filing both civil and criminal complaints. Theft of US intelectual property is punishable by a fine of no less than $10,000 and /or 5 years in Federal prison.


    • Buckaroomedic says:

      Nope. DOJ is too busy going after little old nuns and other “extremists”!