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Old 08-04-2008, 12:27 AM   #1
charlieperry
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Is ebook piracy on the rise?

http://bookbook.com.au/2008/08/04/is...y-on-the-rise/

When I first got my Sony Reader I had a list of books that I wanted to download. As I quickly found out most of the books weren't available in Australia in ebook format and try as I might I just could not find them elsewhere on the web. The pirates, I assumed, hadn't really taken to books in the same way they had to movies and music.

A few experiences recently, however, have made me suspect that book piracy is becoming more prevalent. Firstly, I thought I'd have another look for Cornelius Ryan's epic account of D-Day, The Longest Day. The Longest Day isn't legally available as an ebook as far as I know and yet there at the top of my "Longest Day ebook" search was a text version of the book. Next I had to read Shantaram for a book club meeting. Shantaram is a monster of a book and I thought it would be handy to have it in ebook format instead. Shantaram is not available as an ebook (again, as far as I know) but low and behold a pirate copy from India popped up near the top of the search. I had a similar experience with a few other books as well among them the incredibly rare and expensive and very controversial Devil's Guard.

Book piracy is going to become a bigger and bigger problem for the publishing industry. eBooks are typically very small and can easily be emailed around. Most books are less than the size of a photo or a song. You can publish books on the web with very little trouble at all.

The other problem is that it isn't always clear for a lot of books whether they are in copyright or not. Copyright laws vary from country to country. A lot of books that are still in copyright in the US are out of copyright here in Australia. With the death of Solzhenitsyn today I thought I'd reread A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. There is a link to this text at the bottom of the Wikipedia page. This book was first published in 1963. Is this book in copyright or out? To be honest I'm not really sure.

Has anyone else noticed a rise in the availability of pirate books recently?
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Old 08-04-2008, 01:59 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by charlieperry View Post
I had a similar experience with a few other books as well among them the incredibly rare and expensive and very controversial Devil's Guard.
Damn it, I used to have a paperback copy of "The Devil's Guard" but threw it away many many years ago. It's a hell of a good read.
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Old 08-04-2008, 02:20 AM   #3
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I think perhaps in some senses. So far publishers have only gone after book-pirates in a few isolated cases such as the Harry Potter novels. This means that the pool of available pirated e-books has only grown as people have OCRed and uploaded pirated texts. Unless either (a) publishers do something to utterly stop distribution of already-pirated texts or (b) people stop pirating new books, then yes -- the number of books available as pirated e-books will continue to increase.
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Old 08-04-2008, 03:09 AM   #4
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I think perhaps in some senses. So far publishers have only gone after book-pirates in a few isolated cases such as the Harry Potter novels. This means that the pool of available pirated e-books has only grown as people have OCRed and uploaded pirated texts. Unless either (a) publishers do something to utterly stop distribution of already-pirated texts or (b) people stop pirating new books, then yes -- the number of books available as pirated e-books will continue to increase.
What the publishing industry needs is a strong trade association, akin to the RIAA, which will go after criminals in the same manner that the RIAA has so admirably done in the music world. The problem is, at present, that there is nobody in the publishing world to take on these criminals.
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Old 08-04-2008, 03:15 AM   #5
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I had a similar experience with a few other books as well among them the incredibly rare and expensive and very controversial Devil's Guard.
... A lot of books that are still in copyright in the US are out of copyright here in Australia.
and that is why there is Devils Guard accessible on the Australian mirror of the Project Gutenberg Australia site. http://gutenberg.net.au/

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Originally Posted by charlieperry View Post
With the death of Solzhenitsyn today I thought I'd reread A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. There is a link to this text at the bottom of the Wikipedia page. This book was first published in 1963. Is this book in copyright or out? To be honest I'm not really sure.
In Russia they do not have the same perception of copyright as we have. Yet.
Russian book sites and on-line "libraries" are crammed with hundreds of thousands e-books. And not just books by soviet authors. There are MANY books by contemporary english writting authors. There is just one little catch. You have to read them in russian ;-)
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Old 08-04-2008, 03:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by charlieperry View Post
http://bookbook.com.au/2008/08/04/is...y-on-the-rise/
Book piracy is going to become a bigger and bigger problem for the publishing industry. eBooks are typically very small and can easily be emailed around. Most books are less than the size of a photo or a song. You can publish books on the web with very little trouble at all.

Has anyone else noticed a rise in the availability of pirate books recently?
As an old hack who used to hang around USENET a lot and who keeps tabs on modern p2p networks, I'd have to say it is not growing drastically. It has been possible to grab illegal copies of new popular books from alt.binaries.ebooks and from various others for a long time. What I do see now is more overflow to different networks like bittorrent - but this is only to be expected with the rising popularity of e-readers.

Piracy is not going away, that said, I do not think the people who grab pirated copies are the same people that would normally buy these books, in other words, there is no real loss of profit. (If there was zero piracy, these people would not suddenly buy all these books they've pirated, an imaginary profit loss calculation that the music and movie industries excel at).

What Publishers could and should do is not treat customers like their enemy (like the music and movie industries are currently doing) - that is, not try to lock people in to a DRM format and not selling their electronic versions at exorbitant prices (as we know the distribution costs of electronic media are very low). They also should offer services like making out-of-print books (that is a massive catalog!) available on the electronic platform.

Book publishers as a "middle man", the paper link between author and reader, I believe that era is coming to an end. It will take a long time, but (if you'll forgive the pun) the writing is on the wall.


Quote:
What the publishing industry needs is a strong trade association, akin to the RIAA, which will go after criminals in the same manner that the RIAA has so admirably done in the music world. The problem is, at present, that there is nobody in the publishing world to take on these criminals.
Harry, I couldn't possibly agree less. The RIAA is only antagonising people and not even putting a serious dent in music piracy. I hope you were being sarcastic. Suing 14-year olds and senior citizens is not going to help any industry. And the RIAA is exactly the fat-cat middleman that has been made obsolete by the internet.

Last edited by acidzebra; 08-04-2008 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 08-04-2008, 03:52 AM   #7
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Harry, I couldn't possibly agree less. The RIAA is only antagonising people and not even putting a serious dent in music piracy. I hope you were being sarcastic. Suing 14-year olds and senior citizens is not going to help any industry. And the RIAA is exactly the fat-cat middleman that has been made obsolete by the internet.
I must respectfully disagree. The purpose of the RIAA is not to "be nice" to people, but to punish criminals. Do you think that someone's crimes "don't matter" simply because they are 14 years old, or a senior citizen? I think that, admitedly in a small number of cases, they've taken very effective action. I'm sure that Ms. Thomas will think twice before "sharing" files on the internet again!

Please allow me to clarify my position, by the way. Individual downloaders are "small fry" - they are not worth. It's the uploaders who need to be taken down, and they are the ones whom the RIAA goes after.

Sure, they make the occasional mistake, but I'm a big fan of the RIAA, overall. Knowing that you're liable to lose your house if you share files illegally is surely going to make people think twice about doing it, don't you think?
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Old 08-04-2008, 04:07 AM   #8
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For something to be a crime, there has to be a victim. A billions-of-dollars industry in the habit of sucking the content producers (artists) dry while complaining about 'losing' even more billions of (as I just explained) imaginary profit loss responding with a ham-fisted approach of suing random people (occasional mistake? Ha!) does not have my sympathy. And with the newer P2P protocols, there is very little difference between "uploaders" and "downloaders" - which is where these lawsuits go all wrong.

They were screaming murder when cassette tapes and walkmans came out, they were screaming murder when blank CDs came out, they are doing it again and frankly, I am tired of them and I hope they sink in the tarpit they chose for themselves.

Buying a CD does not support the artist, it lines the pockets of the distributors. Visiting a gig and buying the t-shirt, that is what supports artists. Buying the CD directly from the artists, that is what supports artists.

Like the guys that used to produce horse buggy whips, the era of the distributor middle man monopoly has ended. They should reinvent themselves, and instead they are fighting and alienating their customers. Zero sympathy, and the same goes for the MPAA. I just hope book publishers won't choose the same route.

Last edited by acidzebra; 08-04-2008 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 08-04-2008, 04:23 AM   #9
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Ah well, we must agree to differ, I'm afraid.
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Old 08-04-2008, 04:32 AM   #10
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I can live with that
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Old 08-04-2008, 04:42 AM   #11
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What the publishing industry needs is a strong trade association, akin to the RIAA, which will go after criminals in the same manner that the RIAA has so admirably done in the music world. The problem is, at present, that there is nobody in the publishing world to take on these criminals.
What the publishing industry needs to do is to take the digital world seriously by seeing the potential that lies there, not criminalize people because the publishers (as the music and film industry in america) aren't able to follow the new current.

Tor.com is a real example on seeing the potential that the publishing industry have if they start taking the internet serious. They have a site where authors have blogs and can add entrys, users/readers can add comments and talk to the authors. Readers can make their own blog entries, so that tor.com can get input on important issues if the readers aren't happy with something tor.com does. Tor.com provides ebooks (and are making more of their book backlog available as ebooks.) They don't DRM their ebooks, hopefully because they see that if somebody has purchased a book, they should be allowed to read it whenever on whatever they want. Tor.com comes with sample chapters on books, to entice their readers.

To put it simply, tor.com taps into the potential there is in internet marketing and business. They don't try to criminalize readers that read copyinfringed material (which usually are of low quality), instead they make their books attractive so people wants to buy and read.

What you and the publishing industry needs to realize is that there will always be piracy, and that there are several ways to fight piracy without criminalizing people. Tor.com has realized this, have you?

Last edited by haridasi; 08-04-2008 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:24 AM   #12
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What you and the publishing industry needs to realize is that there will always be piracy, and that there are several ways to fight piracy without criminalizing people. Tor.com has realized this, have you?
Pirates "criminalise" themselves. Nobody is forcing them to break the law; they make that choice knowingly and voluntarily. To try to shift the "blame" onto somebody else is ridiculous.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:35 AM   #13
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The problem here is a moral one Harry! and has been covered hundreds of times.

Is it criminal for me to download a pirated ebook? yes
is it criminal for me to download an ebook that I own the paper and hardback copies of? yes

Do I personally feel its wrong to download something I already own in another version. No. would I do it? yes

The main reason I would is it doesnt cost the publisher/author anything!

If i had a hardback and stole the paperback that would cost the publisher money!

If I have paperback and hardback so would not pay another 7.00 for the ebook and so DL it for free i have not cost the publisher money nor made them miss out on money they would of otherwise received.

that is why I would do it.

rather than setting up a way to punish me they should set up a way to sell to me!

A ebook for 99p when I buy the book from waterstones would be great! publisher makes more and Im happy.

They need to wake up to the fact that litigation has not worked for the music, movie or TV industry.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:40 AM   #14
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Sure, they make the occasional mistake, but I'm a big fan of the RIAA, overall.
Who can seriously claim to be a fan of the RIAA except for its members?

I am curious to hear more about the "occasional mistake" you are referring to.
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Old 08-04-2008, 05:45 AM   #15
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I am curious to hear more about the "occasional mistake" you are referring to.
I understand that they have made the occasional accusation against people which has turned out to be unjustified. If you read the computer press, these things do get reported from time to time. I'm sure that I could find some specific examples if you'd like to know more.
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