PA backs publisher admission over piracy costs

Publishers are having to spend more money to keep up with the pace of piracy, the chief executive of the PA has said, as robust debates over piracy affecting royalty rates dominated the first day of London Book Fair.

Richard Mollet was speaking after David Shelley, Little, Brown publisher, claimed at Sunday's digital conference that one of the reasons publishers could not increase digital royalty rates was because of the increasing costs of fighting piracy.

Shelley told delegates: "Money spent on print and paper will be spent on specialists to fight piracy. The costs of this are only getting more expensive, and could spiral way out of control. There are also legal costs, when sites refuse to take down content." Shelley claimed the "unknown costs", as well as other new digital costs, would replace the cost savings made on digital.

Stephen Page, chief executive of Faber, said: "There is no doubt that there is a cost coming in the management of piracy, but we haven't begun to even understand yet what it may be."

While Mollet refused to be drawn on royalty rates, which he said was solely a debate for publishers and agents, he said there was no doubt copyright infringement was an issue for publishers. He said: "It's obvious that as the digital market grows so will the degree of digital infringement. To keep up with the pace of change, publishers, and indeed all of the creative industries, will have to spend more money."

But digital guru Mike Shatzkin said: "No publisher I know has actually done any serious research into the commercial impact of piracy, and therefore I would not at the moment spend a lot of money containing it."

However, one agent said: "I would love to know what publishers are actually doing to fight piracy. I can't imagine any publisher is together enough to combat it. None of my authors are complaining to me about piracy and surely they are the ones who would be most concerned."

LBF Daily: Day 2