Tuesday, November 24, 2009

From The Times
November 21, 2009
Pirates find easy new pickings in open waters of e-book publishing
Mike Harvey, Technology Correspondent, The Times

Digital pirates, who for years have tormented the music and film industries, have found a new source of plunder in e-book publishing.
With the words “dan brown lost symbol torrent” and a few clicks, anyone can download the American author’s latest bestseller free via any of hundreds of web links.

This Christmas, e-book reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader will be among the most popular gadgets. But there are fears that as consumers get used to reading digital books they will look for a free download rather than pay.

In the US, where the Kindle has been available for two years, digital book piracy is booming. The web has enabled thousands of sites to distribute pirated book content free. American publishers are estimated to have lost more than $600 million (£363 million) last year to piracy.

Even before The Lost Symbol was published in September, pirated copies were circulating on the internet. Within a couple of days of its release filesharers had downloaded it more than 100,000 times.

British publishers are taking action to stop the pirates. The Publishers Association has released a web tool that allows publishers to log the details of an infringement of copyright. It then sends a demand to the offending website for the link to be removed. The portal has been alerted to more than 4,000 cases of online piracy by more than 40 publishers and has succeeded in taking down 2,638 illegal copies of books.
Mike Harvey's full and worrying piece here.


Keith Mockett said...

Not the first or last article to say this. I will say the following:
1. Piracy is theft and theft has been around since things were created.
2. Clearly some people have a problem with the industry charging the prices they do for ebooks. But does too high a price encourage piracy or just mean people spend money on other books, or things e.g. music? After all, this is discretionary income.
3. Would the people who read pirate copies buy the original anyway, or would they simply not read it?
4. Industry estimates of "lost" sales/revenue are always suspect. Nobody knows how many pirated copies are downloaded or read, or if the downloaders would have bought the books anyway.
5. The vast majority of book readers and music fans would not download pirate copies as they, (a) wouldn't know where to go or how to download, (b) cannot be sure if there are nasties buried inside the files, and (c) are honest people who recognise piracy as theft.
6. The industry should make all attempts to shut pirates down, prosecute etc but to make out that we are all thieves or potential thieves and to want restrictions on legitimate internet use is just going to alienate it's customers.
7. Libraries and personal sharing of books already occurs, does the industry calculate "lost revenue" for this?

Keith Mockett said...

Further to my previous comment I wonder if there is value in the publishing industry getting together with the music and movie industries and advertising along the lines that downloading pirate files is unsafe as you don't know what nasties you may pick up.

I know of people who won't download from Russian MP3 sites even though the files are very cheap and claim to be legitimate (they aren't) because of suspicions about nasties buried in the files.

Such advertising can be generic for use around the world and short and sharp. Relatively cheap if the cost is spread across 3 industries.