Scribd took down multiple copies of the Mueller Report, which is in the public domain, claiming that its algorithms identified it as a copyrighted work (David Yanofsky/Quartz)


A convenient feature of nearly all documents created by the US government is that they have no copyright. As such, the Mueller Report exists in the public domain both colloquially (it’s everywhere!) and legally (no rights restrictions!).

However, in a taste of what’s to come with the EU’s views on copyright enforcement, the online document portal Scribd took down multiple copies of the Mueller Report claiming that their algorithms identified it as a copyrighted work.

It is unclear why exactly Scribd thought the Mueller Report is copyrighted. Probably because there was no one thinking specifically about it—the company uses an algorithm to make determinations about intellectual property violations.

Scribd’s press team did not immediately respond to a message Quartz sent about it. There are still many copies of the report on Scribd, though searches on Scribd for text known to be in the report reveal that few of those copies are more than the unsearchable images of the document’s scanned pages.

A separate request Quartz made to reinstate its own versions of the document was resolved 17 minutes after we sent it, seemingly after an employee review.

Users affected by the takedown received an email