News

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

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Spending significant sums on technical solutions such as DRM is likely to be an utter waste. In the last few months Amazon's proprietary format has been broken twice, for fun, and Sony's private key for the PS3 and Apple's private key for the Airport have both been cracked by reverse engineering. If three of the biggest players on the planet can't stop their DRM from being broken open by amateur hackers then the publishers don't stand a chance.


That's only the start of the problem. By their nature eBooks have to be human-readable, so even the most complex, expensive and high tech DRM system can be overcome by a smart twelve year old with a laptop, webcam and free OCR software.


DRM also drives piracy. I don't use Windows or OSX, so I can't (in theory) buy ebooks from many of the major suppliers. Of course, I can run their ebooks, but I have to strip the DRM from the files first. It takes about ten minutes. Yup, I pirate the books I've bought. I buy them, then have to "pirate" my own copies. Alternatively, I could simply download a pirate copy, which would frankly be easier and free.


Solution? The obvious one is for publishers to flood torrent sites and the like with "fake" versions of their own books. It's easy enough to replace 20% of a book with utter gibberish and leave the filesize and checksum unchanged. They need to make life difficult and awkward for people downloading pirate versions, but at the moment they're making life difficult for the people who are trying to give them money.

Readers of BookSeller .... is ANYone likely to actually believe a shred of what Mr Mollet is trying to sell ? Does HE actually think anyone is going to believe a shred of it ? Does he have any self respect for trying to pass this off ?

Was anyone at this talk ? Did he actually say this with a straight face ?

I guess the question at the heart of his real agenda is ... how many authors will believe this hogwash ? Will authors really believe that piracy is hurting sales ? when there is no independent report supporting such a claim ? when the actual numbers of downloads by potential customers is utterly unknown and dubious in nature. Will authors continue to be happy forgoing half of their royalties on the basis of this 'claim' ?

I don't know many authors, but I am hanging on to some hope that they are not so gullible.

The mistake that many people make is that a "pirated" copy equals a lost sale. This is a logical fallacy.

I think a lack of availably through legitimate outlets does cost publishers sales. When a person can't find a book they want through the usual legal outlets then they will turn to "piracy" networks. I think publishers would be better off spending more time and money making sure their backlist gets turned into ebooks. This would make both authors and readers happier than their claims that piracy costs them so much money!

The only difficulty with that solution (and it does get tried) is that filesharing sites then implement reporting systems to flag and remove fake content. With movies and games, this still means people are wasting significant time downloading large files, but a single fake ebook can be flagged very quickly.

It's tough to make life more difficult for ebook pirates, I'm afraid.

I found this a while ago, but though I would post it here. It's an author's take/research on the effects of piracy.

http://anywherebeyond.livejournal.com/342581.html

It's a serious thing. People brag about getting pirated books on twitter all the time and it drives me mad. Some say it's because the books are too expensive. One person said that a book they wanted was almost £50, which I'm not sure I believe. Yes, the books should be available to everyone at a reasonable price, but I really think the issue lies in the fact that people don't see the actual value of the content...

Piracy is driven by the rewards for piracy.

For example, Chinese site Filesonic has strong pro-copyright wording on their home pages, but they pay affiliates generously for traffic.

Example
"Dear Content Owners,
April will be a big month for FileSonic and you; hence, we have decided to announce a huge April Fiesta!
Await a series of big, Life changing news this month!!
First one is very simple: GET 25% MORE + regular payout every weekend in April. Example: Make $100, we give you $125!
Promo weekends:

* 9th, 10th April
* 16th, 17th April
* 23rd, 24th April
* 30th April + May 1st

Keep an eye on PlaySonic. Missions & Rewards will be available in the next few days!"

And

"Dear Affiliates,
We have a few exciting changes to announce!
We launched a revamped affiliate program, giving our valued partners some new benefits. To name a few:

1. Germany has been moved to Group A in the PPD program!
2. All affiliates can now choose a fixed $10 pay-per-sale plan -- that's right, $10 per sale regardless of the price of the sale! You can join by changing your plan in your Settings page.
3. Elite affiliates on Fixed PPS now earn $12 per sale, instead of $11!

We hope this news will reinforce FileSonic as your one-stop shop for all your 2011 file hosting needs!
Stay tuned for even more exciting news :)
Regards,
FileSonic"

Sometimes they pay up to 6 cents per download. This encourages other Chinese based users to upload first run Hollywood movies, and recently, a batch of 4002 e-books by very well know, living authors.

One team runs several Yahoogroups, which Yahoo refuses to take down, as well as a Google group, and a Social Go site, and a Picasa site all directing "members" to the "complimentary" and "freely available" goodies.

They claim to be a Non-Profit organization, trying to provide a few treats to impoverished English language speakers, but they urge everyone to take out a paid subscription to Filesonic (the pirates get a percentage) so that they can download ebooks and movies and music and software and games quickly, before the publishers find out and have the files taken down.

They have shared over 100,000 copyrighted works in the last 2 years, and they tell their subscribers to share the links to "free" books with all their friends and family.

This is just one example.

There are sites that offer burn "digital content" onto dvds and fulfill orders, so all the content-seller has to do is snag a bunch of e-books or other content from file sharing sites, send it to the service, advertise on eBay, or iOffer or Amazon, and the service will save pirates the trouble of burning their own CDs.

Members of the public don't know what Public Domain is. People assume that if an e-book is on a pirate site or file sharing site, it in "in the public domain".

Allegedly, people are scanning obscure print books, creating Kindle books, and selling other authors' intellectual property on Amazon.

There are pirate sites dedicated to sharing e-books over cellphones. There are pirates on blogspot, facebook, twitter, multiply....

There was a member of 4shared who had approximately 5,000 in-copyright e-books on her account, and 64,000 copies had been taken of those e-books.

The numbers are staggering. Yes, not all 64,000 represent a lost sale, but if someone is reading a freebie, they are not reading a book that they might have paid for, or borrowed from a library which at least bought the original.

The advert aggregators fund piracy. Reputable companies advertise on pirate sites, thereby giving the appearance of legitimacy to these sites. Sites are so slick and professional looking, anyone buying there could be forgiven for thinking they are making a legitimate purchase.

Innocent people buy get-rich schemes, they pay pirates for Re-Sell rights. Someone sold someone else "Re-Sell Rights" to a collection of 14,000 Vampire Romance EBooks. Three of my books were on that CD. One EBay commented that she'd paid $9.00 for a lifetime's worth of reading, and she'd have paid the same $9.00 for the one book on the CD that she'd intended to buy anyway.

Sometimes, pirates tell skeptics that authors write and give away these e-books primarily as marketing devices. They say that authors want their works shared. Sharing (or selling without paying the author) does the authors a favor. No. That's our livelihood.

It's one thing if we or our publishers give away the first ebook in a series, or a related short story. It's quite another when pirates give away the entire series.

Most authors don't complain in public. That does not mean that they aren't aware of piracy and falling sales.

It is not accurate to state that no authors mind. Some mind very much. It's quite a dilemma when an enthusiastic fan posts on Facebook or some other social networking site how much she loves one's books, and then boasts that she got them all free from a sharing site!

Check out the chilling effects site run by EFF, where they publish DMCAs. I assume this is one of many ways to intimidate and silence authors.

Other disincentives for authors are the savage reviews and ratings which will be posted to punish authors who speak out against copyright infringement. The same tactics are used on Amazon to protest the non-availability of e-versions of new releases, or the failure of a publisher to undercut his paper sales by selling a digital version more cheaply.

Also, those who don't wish to believe that "sharing" hurts authors will claim that the authors who complain are worthless hacks who blame their inability to sell books on pirates instead of on their own lack of talent. Visit any forum where e-book piracy is discussed, and check out the insults.

Thank goodness at least 80% of the English speaking readers are honest! Many of my colleagues focus on writing the best books they can for those readers.

IMHO, it should not be the authors who bear the cost of publishers' attempts to fight piracy. That cost ought to be factored into the retail price.

I see no reason why authors' e-book royalties should be low so that Amazon and other e-reader manufacturers and vendors can use authors' content as a marketing tool for their product...which would be useless without e-content.

I agree 100% with you, Rowena

If all these books are being pirated when does anyone have time to read them?

The real problem here is human nature not the internet. Irrespective of technology there have always been, are, and always will be people who will take great delight in ripping other people off. The internet has just made this easier and faster. Whether it is downloading or using any excuse available to avoid paying more royalties.

One question; are publishers and/or authors this vociferous toward the second hand market, where books are bought and sold sometimes at vastly inflated prices with no royalties going to either the author or publisher?

Mike Shatzkin has it half right. Unfortunately he doesn't know which half or what to do with the half he has right.

Publishers have indeed spent significant effort on determining the economic impact of piracy. Just look at the AAP website, for example. But a more correct statement would be that publishers have spent no effort determining the economic impacts of purported piracy *remedies*, whether legal, technical, educational, etc.

Unfortunately, the default method of spending money on this stuff is to give an antipiracy budget to the legal department. That's what record labels and Hollywood do. Even more unfortunately, it's very difficult to measure these things. See for example http://copyrightandtechnology.com/2010/04/14/gao-report-throws-doubts-on....

But to draw a conclusion, as Shatzkin does, that publishers shouldn't even bother trying to fight piracy because they can't measure the results, is just plain bad logic. Publishers should spend money on this, but they should do it smartly and in the spirit of measured experimentation, not threats and demands.

What Rowena said.

It all comes down to the fact that theft is theft, and piracy is just a fancy word for stealing.

If an author or a publisher wish to give away something, that is their right. For someone who neither a copyright holder nor authorized agent to give away or sell that same thing is nothing but theft, pure and simple, and the people who delight in taking these pirated copies are nothing but thieves.

No, sorry Janis. This has been covered fairly extensively in various juristictions. For ebook piracy to be considered theft you would have to take property away from the publisher, ie make a copy of their book and *delete the original*, and even then it would probably be viewed as unauthorised access to a computer system rather than theft.

Not that I'm defending piracy, I find it as irritating as you do, but the legal standpoint is that it's copyright infringement and an IP issue, not one of theft.

Rowena,

Agrred. 100%. Writing is hard enough without the added worry/stress that our work is taken for free.

I wouldn't say I'm shocked, but definitely surprised by the lack of faith and wherewithal exhibited by publishers in regard to piracy. Granted, business litigation such as copyright infringement is much tougher to peg on culprits in the digital sphere, and no one wants to put a lot of money into a sunk cost. Is piracy simply too strong an opponent to defeat?

What gave me the most pause, was "digital guru" Mike Shatzkin's opinion that most publishers aren't funding research to determine how to thwart this issue. I guess my question would be: is this a defeatist attitude or one of adapting to an ever changing publishing landscape that will be littered with piracy going forward?

As Stig points out above, maybe it is the latter, and the only way to survive is adapt. However, if I were to guess by the majority of the comments here, that work towards slowing down piracy will continue. Time will tell if the investment is worth it or not.

I agree with the entire comment above. Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job.

ingersoll rand air compressor | husky air compressor.

Spending significant sums on technical solutions such as DRM is likely to be an utter waste. In the last few months Amazon's proprietary format has been broken twice, for fun, and Sony's private key for the PS3 and Apple's private key for the Airport have both been cracked by reverse engineering. If three of the biggest players on the planet can't stop their DRM from being broken open by amateur hackers then the publishers don't stand a chance.


That's only the start of the problem. By their nature eBooks have to be human-readable, so even the most complex, expensive and high tech DRM system can be overcome by a smart twelve year old with a laptop, webcam and free OCR software.


DRM also drives piracy. I don't use Windows or OSX, so I can't (in theory) buy ebooks from many of the major suppliers. Of course, I can run their ebooks, but I have to strip the DRM from the files first. It takes about ten minutes. Yup, I pirate the books I've bought. I buy them, then have to "pirate" my own copies. Alternatively, I could simply download a pirate copy, which would frankly be easier and free.


Solution? The obvious one is for publishers to flood torrent sites and the like with "fake" versions of their own books. It's easy enough to replace 20% of a book with utter gibberish and leave the filesize and checksum unchanged. They need to make life difficult and awkward for people downloading pirate versions, but at the moment they're making life difficult for the people who are trying to give them money.

The only difficulty with that solution (and it does get tried) is that filesharing sites then implement reporting systems to flag and remove fake content. With movies and games, this still means people are wasting significant time downloading large files, but a single fake ebook can be flagged very quickly.

It's tough to make life more difficult for ebook pirates, I'm afraid.

Readers of BookSeller .... is ANYone likely to actually believe a shred of what Mr Mollet is trying to sell ? Does HE actually think anyone is going to believe a shred of it ? Does he have any self respect for trying to pass this off ?

Was anyone at this talk ? Did he actually say this with a straight face ?

I guess the question at the heart of his real agenda is ... how many authors will believe this hogwash ? Will authors really believe that piracy is hurting sales ? when there is no independent report supporting such a claim ? when the actual numbers of downloads by potential customers is utterly unknown and dubious in nature. Will authors continue to be happy forgoing half of their royalties on the basis of this 'claim' ?

I don't know many authors, but I am hanging on to some hope that they are not so gullible.

The mistake that many people make is that a "pirated" copy equals a lost sale. This is a logical fallacy.

I think a lack of availably through legitimate outlets does cost publishers sales. When a person can't find a book they want through the usual legal outlets then they will turn to "piracy" networks. I think publishers would be better off spending more time and money making sure their backlist gets turned into ebooks. This would make both authors and readers happier than their claims that piracy costs them so much money!

I found this a while ago, but though I would post it here. It's an author's take/research on the effects of piracy.

http://anywherebeyond.livejournal.com/342581.html

It's a serious thing. People brag about getting pirated books on twitter all the time and it drives me mad. Some say it's because the books are too expensive. One person said that a book they wanted was almost £50, which I'm not sure I believe. Yes, the books should be available to everyone at a reasonable price, but I really think the issue lies in the fact that people don't see the actual value of the content...

Piracy is driven by the rewards for piracy.

For example, Chinese site Filesonic has strong pro-copyright wording on their home pages, but they pay affiliates generously for traffic.

Example
"Dear Content Owners,
April will be a big month for FileSonic and you; hence, we have decided to announce a huge April Fiesta!
Await a series of big, Life changing news this month!!
First one is very simple: GET 25% MORE + regular payout every weekend in April. Example: Make $100, we give you $125!
Promo weekends:

* 9th, 10th April
* 16th, 17th April
* 23rd, 24th April
* 30th April + May 1st

Keep an eye on PlaySonic. Missions & Rewards will be available in the next few days!"

And

"Dear Affiliates,
We have a few exciting changes to announce!
We launched a revamped affiliate program, giving our valued partners some new benefits. To name a few:

1. Germany has been moved to Group A in the PPD program!
2. All affiliates can now choose a fixed $10 pay-per-sale plan -- that's right, $10 per sale regardless of the price of the sale! You can join by changing your plan in your Settings page.
3. Elite affiliates on Fixed PPS now earn $12 per sale, instead of $11!

We hope this news will reinforce FileSonic as your one-stop shop for all your 2011 file hosting needs!
Stay tuned for even more exciting news :)
Regards,
FileSonic"

Sometimes they pay up to 6 cents per download. This encourages other Chinese based users to upload first run Hollywood movies, and recently, a batch of 4002 e-books by very well know, living authors.

One team runs several Yahoogroups, which Yahoo refuses to take down, as well as a Google group, and a Social Go site, and a Picasa site all directing "members" to the "complimentary" and "freely available" goodies.

They claim to be a Non-Profit organization, trying to provide a few treats to impoverished English language speakers, but they urge everyone to take out a paid subscription to Filesonic (the pirates get a percentage) so that they can download ebooks and movies and music and software and games quickly, before the publishers find out and have the files taken down.

They have shared over 100,000 copyrighted works in the last 2 years, and they tell their subscribers to share the links to "free" books with all their friends and family.

This is just one example.

There are sites that offer burn "digital content" onto dvds and fulfill orders, so all the content-seller has to do is snag a bunch of e-books or other content from file sharing sites, send it to the service, advertise on eBay, or iOffer or Amazon, and the service will save pirates the trouble of burning their own CDs.

Members of the public don't know what Public Domain is. People assume that if an e-book is on a pirate site or file sharing site, it in "in the public domain".

Allegedly, people are scanning obscure print books, creating Kindle books, and selling other authors' intellectual property on Amazon.

There are pirate sites dedicated to sharing e-books over cellphones. There are pirates on blogspot, facebook, twitter, multiply....

There was a member of 4shared who had approximately 5,000 in-copyright e-books on her account, and 64,000 copies had been taken of those e-books.

The numbers are staggering. Yes, not all 64,000 represent a lost sale, but if someone is reading a freebie, they are not reading a book that they might have paid for, or borrowed from a library which at least bought the original.

The advert aggregators fund piracy. Reputable companies advertise on pirate sites, thereby giving the appearance of legitimacy to these sites. Sites are so slick and professional looking, anyone buying there could be forgiven for thinking they are making a legitimate purchase.

Innocent people buy get-rich schemes, they pay pirates for Re-Sell rights. Someone sold someone else "Re-Sell Rights" to a collection of 14,000 Vampire Romance EBooks. Three of my books were on that CD. One EBay commented that she'd paid $9.00 for a lifetime's worth of reading, and she'd have paid the same $9.00 for the one book on the CD that she'd intended to buy anyway.

Sometimes, pirates tell skeptics that authors write and give away these e-books primarily as marketing devices. They say that authors want their works shared. Sharing (or selling without paying the author) does the authors a favor. No. That's our livelihood.

It's one thing if we or our publishers give away the first ebook in a series, or a related short story. It's quite another when pirates give away the entire series.

Most authors don't complain in public. That does not mean that they aren't aware of piracy and falling sales.

It is not accurate to state that no authors mind. Some mind very much. It's quite a dilemma when an enthusiastic fan posts on Facebook or some other social networking site how much she loves one's books, and then boasts that she got them all free from a sharing site!

Check out the chilling effects site run by EFF, where they publish DMCAs. I assume this is one of many ways to intimidate and silence authors.

Other disincentives for authors are the savage reviews and ratings which will be posted to punish authors who speak out against copyright infringement. The same tactics are used on Amazon to protest the non-availability of e-versions of new releases, or the failure of a publisher to undercut his paper sales by selling a digital version more cheaply.

Also, those who don't wish to believe that "sharing" hurts authors will claim that the authors who complain are worthless hacks who blame their inability to sell books on pirates instead of on their own lack of talent. Visit any forum where e-book piracy is discussed, and check out the insults.

Thank goodness at least 80% of the English speaking readers are honest! Many of my colleagues focus on writing the best books they can for those readers.

I agree 100% with you, Rowena

Rowena,

Agrred. 100%. Writing is hard enough without the added worry/stress that our work is taken for free.

IMHO, it should not be the authors who bear the cost of publishers' attempts to fight piracy. That cost ought to be factored into the retail price.

I see no reason why authors' e-book royalties should be low so that Amazon and other e-reader manufacturers and vendors can use authors' content as a marketing tool for their product...which would be useless without e-content.

If all these books are being pirated when does anyone have time to read them?

The real problem here is human nature not the internet. Irrespective of technology there have always been, are, and always will be people who will take great delight in ripping other people off. The internet has just made this easier and faster. Whether it is downloading or using any excuse available to avoid paying more royalties.

One question; are publishers and/or authors this vociferous toward the second hand market, where books are bought and sold sometimes at vastly inflated prices with no royalties going to either the author or publisher?

Mike Shatzkin has it half right. Unfortunately he doesn't know which half or what to do with the half he has right.

Publishers have indeed spent significant effort on determining the economic impact of piracy. Just look at the AAP website, for example. But a more correct statement would be that publishers have spent no effort determining the economic impacts of purported piracy *remedies*, whether legal, technical, educational, etc.

Unfortunately, the default method of spending money on this stuff is to give an antipiracy budget to the legal department. That's what record labels and Hollywood do. Even more unfortunately, it's very difficult to measure these things. See for example http://copyrightandtechnology.com/2010/04/14/gao-report-throws-doubts-on....

But to draw a conclusion, as Shatzkin does, that publishers shouldn't even bother trying to fight piracy because they can't measure the results, is just plain bad logic. Publishers should spend money on this, but they should do it smartly and in the spirit of measured experimentation, not threats and demands.

What Rowena said.

It all comes down to the fact that theft is theft, and piracy is just a fancy word for stealing.

If an author or a publisher wish to give away something, that is their right. For someone who neither a copyright holder nor authorized agent to give away or sell that same thing is nothing but theft, pure and simple, and the people who delight in taking these pirated copies are nothing but thieves.

I wouldn't say I'm shocked, but definitely surprised by the lack of faith and wherewithal exhibited by publishers in regard to piracy. Granted, business litigation such as copyright infringement is much tougher to peg on culprits in the digital sphere, and no one wants to put a lot of money into a sunk cost. Is piracy simply too strong an opponent to defeat?

What gave me the most pause, was "digital guru" Mike Shatzkin's opinion that most publishers aren't funding research to determine how to thwart this issue. I guess my question would be: is this a defeatist attitude or one of adapting to an ever changing publishing landscape that will be littered with piracy going forward?

As Stig points out above, maybe it is the latter, and the only way to survive is adapt. However, if I were to guess by the majority of the comments here, that work towards slowing down piracy will continue. Time will tell if the investment is worth it or not.

I agree with the entire comment above. Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job.

ingersoll rand air compressor | husky air compressor.

No, sorry Janis. This has been covered fairly extensively in various juristictions. For ebook piracy to be considered theft you would have to take property away from the publisher, ie make a copy of their book and *delete the original*, and even then it would probably be viewed as unauthorised access to a computer system rather than theft.

Not that I'm defending piracy, I find it as irritating as you do, but the legal standpoint is that it's copyright infringement and an IP issue, not one of theft.