Books Learn About Pirates


((Pulled this article from the New York Times. Found it so striking that I’m going to take a page from Bruce Sterling’s blog and make comments in double parentheses.))

“Ursula K. Le Guin, the science fiction writer, was perusing the Web site Scribd last month when she came across digital copies of some books that seemed quite familiar to her. No wonder. She wrote them, including a free-for-the-taking copy of one of her most enduring novels, “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

“Neither Ms. Le Guin nor her publisher had authorized the electronic editions. To Ms. Le Guin, it was a rude introduction to the quietly proliferating problem of digital piracy in the literary world. “I thought, who do these people think they are?” Ms. Le Guin said. “Why do they think they can violate my copyright and get away with it?” ((Because they can and they are?))

“This would all sound familiar to filmmakers and musicians who fought similar battles — with varying degrees of success — over the last decade. But to authors and their publishers in the age of Kindle, it’s new and frightening territory.” ((Oh, hello books, welcome to the Internet. The marginal cost of making copies of you just dropped to zero. Guess where your price is headed.))

“For a while now, determined readers have been able to sniff out errant digital copies of titles as varied as the “Harry Potter” series and best sellers by Stephen King and John Grisham. But some publishers say the problem has ballooned in recent months as an expanding appetite for e-books has spawned a bumper crop of pirated editions on Web sites like Scribd and Wattpad, and on file-sharing services like RapidShare and MediaFire.” ((Again, that’s RapidShare, MediaFire, Scribd and Wattpad for all your pirated book needs.))

“It’s exponentially up,” said David Young, chief executive of Hachette Book Group, whose Little, Brown division publishes the “Twilight” series by Stephenie Meyer, a favorite among digital pirates.” ((And everyone else!)) “Our legal department is spending an ever-increasing time policing sites where copyrighted material is being presented.” ((I wonder if anyone at corporate is taking the time to figure out what the ROI is on putting more bodies on the hunt.))

“It’s a game of Whac-a-Mole,” said Russell Davis, an author and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a trade association that helps authors pursue digital pirates. “You knock one down and five more spring up.” ((I wonder if Mr Davis realizes that he’s just succinctly explained why it is that his strategy is doomed to fail. You are playing Whac-a-Mole but with the intention of keeping those moles DOWN FOR GOOD. That’s not how the game works. It might be time to find another game.))

“Sites like Scribd and Wattpad, which invite users to upload documents like college theses and self-published novels, have been the target of industry grumbling in recent weeks, as illegal reproductions of popular titles have turned up on them. Trip Adler, chief executive of Scribd, said it was his “gut feeling” ((They don’t keep detailed stats over there at Scribd?)) that unauthorized editions represented only a small fraction of the site’s content.

“Both sites say they immediately remove illegally posted books once notified of them. The companies have also installed filters to identify copyrighted work when it is uploaded. “We are working very hard to keep unauthorized content off the site,” Mr. Adler said. ((But, you know, Whac-a-mole))

“Several publishers declined to comment on the issue, fearing the attention might inspire more theft.” ((Those sites once again: RapidShare, MediaFire, Scribd or Wattpad – Huge variety, same low price!)) “For now, electronic piracy of books does not seem as widespread as what hit the music world, when file-sharing services like Napster threatened to take down the whole industry.”

“Until recently, publishers believed books were relatively safe from piracy because it was so labor-intensive to scan each page to convert a book to a digital file.” ((And yet, if you care to look for it, there are scans of just about any comic book you could imagine available online. Also, have any of these guys been to Asia? Much as with DVDs it’s all pirated photocopies of books. I’d like to see an article about THAT kind of piracy.)) “What’s more, reading books on the computer was relatively unappealing compared with a printed version.”

“Now, with publishers producing more digital editions, it is potentially easier for hackers to copy files. And the growing popularity of electronic reading devices like the Kindle from Amazon or the Reader from Sony make it easier to read in digital form. Many of the unauthorized editions are uploaded as PDFs, which can be easily e-mailed to a Kindle or the Sony device.”

The full article is here: Print Books Are Target of Pirates on the Web