Kara Swisher

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Scribd CEO Trip Adler Speaks!

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Yesterday, BoomTown checked in with Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar about the document sharing start-up.

Today, it’s Trip Adler, CEO of its much larger rival, Scribd.

Launched in early 2007, the San Francisco-based online publishing company allows customers to share a wider range of documents, including books and manuscripts. It now claims to have 10 million documents uploaded.

Recently, some of those landed Scribd in a bit of hot water, with a lawsuit filed by an author alleging copyright violations. The lawsuit claimed that the start-up “built a technology that’s broken barriers to copyright infringement on a global scale.”

No surprise, Scribd denied the allegations.

“Scribd does not want unauthorized content on our site,” the company said. “We built the industry’s leading (filtering) technology to prevent the upload of unauthorized documents. This is one of the reasons why best-selling authors and many of the world’s largest publishers have chosen to put their works on Scribd.”

That includes a deal this summer with Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS (CBS), to sell digital copies of its books, offering publishers more control over pricing and how works are distributed.

Such efforts to become a kind of YouTube for text is certainly part of the plan for Scribd, which has garnered about $13 million in funding, including from Redpoint Ventures.

Of course, YouTube owner Google (GOOG) also has designs in the arena–although it has become embroiled in loud legal battles over the issue with publishers. And so does Kindle-creator Amazon (AMZN), of course.

Those are mighty rivals, along with the need to police itself.

Scribd’s traffic has declined from about 60 million unique monthly visitors to half that recently as it has tried to get a good handle on piracy and other reasons. That traffic has since recovered a bit to about 40 million.

The company has also been adding features, including making the site more social, in order to goose online document and book sales and advertising.

Here’s the video interview with Adler about the business:


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald