Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Book Pirates Afloat

We seem to talk about ebooks more than just about anything else. They just keep making news. It’s either a new e-reader, or low priced or free books being used as marketing enticements, or platforms not being compatible with different readers.

Now there’s something we knew was coming, but, especially here in the US, we’d been so oblivious that we didn’t realize it was already here. Not here in the States, but with the Internet, any place is “here.”

Ebooks are being napsterized big time (remember Napster and music sharing?). File-storage sites are popping up, sites like RapidShare, Megaupload, Hotfile and others. The New York Times asks:
With the new devices in hand, will book buyers avert their eyes from the free copies only a few clicks away that have been uploaded without the copyright holder’s permission?
Ed McCoyd, an executive director at The Association of American Publishers, says:
“We are seeing lots of online piracy activities across all kinds of books — pretty much every category is turning up. What happens when 20 to 30 percent of book readers use digital as the primary mode of reading books? Piracy’s a big concern.”
Of those sites I listed, RapidShare is the biggest at the moment. RapidShare is based in Switzerland.
[RapidShare] says its customers have uploaded onto its servers more than 10 petabytes of files — that’s more than 10 million gigabytes — and can handle up to three million users simultaneously. Anyone can upload, and anyone can download; for light users, the service is free.
And people do upload and download. However, if you, an author, see your book on the site, it won’t be taken down if you ask for all copies to be removed. You have to request each specific file, using the specific URL, for it to be removed, then the next day, it could be back up with a new URL.

Mr. McCoyd noted:
“As far as we can tell, RapidShare is the largest host site of pirated material. Some publishers are saying half of all infringements are linked to it.”
Katharina Scheid, a spokeswoman for RapidShare, had this advice if publishers and authors are unhappy about ebooks being shared without paying the copyright holders:
Learn from the band Nine Inch Nails. It marketed itself “by giving away most of their content for free.
Randall Stross, the author of the New York Times piece had the last word on Ms. Scheid’s advice:
I will forward the suggestion along, as soon as authors can pack arenas full and pirated e-books can serve as concert fliers.
How about you? What do you think?
TweetIt from HubSpot


  1. I had to put my coffee cup down before I threw it across the room! It’s frustrating that there’s nothing we can do about this. What an ignorant woman Ms. Scheid must be, Obviously she has no clue that writing is work – very hard work. Wish there was a way to threaten her livelihood to see how much she loves working for free.

  2. Unfortunately, anything in digital format is easy to rip off. I'm assuming that ebooks will have a DRM-style technology, like music does?

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. We knew this was coming. Guess I ned to check out that site...

  4. Please. Are they kidding ... give away our work for free? What year is this? What a shame, this seems like a real difficult battle, and ongoing too. It's so discouraging.

  5. I KNEW it! Damnit I KNEW this was going to happen! When ebooks first came out and I had to (pub hs insistence) offer my last novel in ebook as well as print format, I was like, "what's to keep people from ripping me off?" and they were like, "nothing we can do about it, of course." This is an outrage, but nothing really can be done. Thanks for the lead on that list though, I'm gonna go & check, see if I need to send in a kindly remove your foot out of my butt message, please.

    The Old Silly

  6. You always know how to phrase things, Marvin.

    The music industry got it stopped (more or less) and have survived. There's hope for the book industry.

  7. I've ranted about pirates on the high seas a few times. Digital pirates are no different. Why is it some people think anything they want is theirs for the taking? For free. Without having to work for it or pay for it? I don't have an answer.

  8. Heck, I didn't even have to wait for e-books. One of my books has been pirated on another continent by photoshopping my name off the cover. I shudder to think what we'll have to do to prevail over pirates.

  9. Carol there are no simple answers.

    Books used to take a monk several years to produce and were virtually priceless. No problems with piracy.

    Nowadays anything that can be read can be scanned and OCRed into a document file inside half a day.

    DRMed ebooks, are mostly secure, but a lot of people won't buy them.

    The market is going ebook and it'll be replacing the paperback entirely before you know it. Certainly inside 50 years.

    A music file can represent weeks of work and is 5Mb in size approx.

    A book can represent years of work and can be a 200k or so in a text file. One twentieth the size.

    You won't stop people copying your work, at best you can make it as easy as possible for them to buy it.

    Stopping a million people copying your book will not necessarily mean one single extra sale. There's no hard and fast correlation. People who want to pay will pay.

  10. Wow, Bonita. It would be hard enough to stop that in the US, let alone if it happened a continent away.

  11. I believe Anton's right. The main problem, I think, is that authors and publishers are going to have to accept that much of the solution is to sell books for less and for very little. If you make it cheap enough and easy enough (a little easier than stealing) than the majority of people won't bother. I'm not going to mess with a pirate site if a book costs 79 cents and takes 20 seconds to download.

    And as a sidebar, there's quite a bit of piracy of good blogs (such as yours Helen, ugh)!

    There will always be loss from thieves.

  12. This pirating is very bad news for a publishing industry with flaccid sales and which appears poised to embrace electronic distribution more and more widely.

    And I have to agree with the line about why letting it go is different for authors than for rock bands. Not the same league. Authors and publishing houses are very much damaged by this whereas it's a workable strategy for rock bands who take in millions on tours.

  13. By-passing copyrights is an activity that has been around for a long, long time. For every new gizmo that arrives on the market there will be someone out there figuring out how to get the stuff for free. It's human nature. Frustrating, but true.


  14. My publisher monitored the file sharing sites constantly. At that time the big threat was the usenet group alt.binaries.e-book. The group is still in business but my publisher isn't. Piracy can put some small publishers out of business because it doesn't take much to eat away their profit margins.

  15. That RapidShare chick sure has some cheek to insult an entire profession and it's workers. You'd think representing the number one hosting site of pirated material online would make her NOT want to further raise the ire of the folks being ripped off. Learn some humility, honey, or at least play dumb!

  16. I think Randall Stross has it right we are not musicians, we do not make money elsewhere. It stinks!!!

  17. I agree that this is awful, but I am not going to go to great lengths to try to do anything about it. It would be a long hard haul to get it stopped and I am too old to get involved in another cause. LOL. Hopefully, writers organizations can band together to do the same thing that the music industry did to Napstar.

  18. Conda, you're right. For some reason my blog gets pirated. When I find it, I click to the site and it's beyond me why they do it, except for the advertising they put on their site. Oftentimes they either list the blog title and link or a truncated version of the post, so it's clearly a site that has been built just to put ads and get money. I can't imagine they're getting a lot of traffic.

    Straight From Hel

  19. I'm not in this for the money, although I wouldn't argue with a multi-book/multi-million dollar deal.
    However, I would like something for my idea and time. This is not fun to read.

  20. The NYT author is correct. There's no benefit to giving a book away for free, that I can see. I just hope the publishing houses can somehow get these sites shut down, but then new ones will just pop up somewhere...

  21. I have to admit, I do like Randall Stross's comment.

  22. I have to hope that most will realize how much work goes into writing a book and will not steal a writer's work. And I hope the publishing industry is able to fight theft of copyright.

  23. World Journal, a news magazine based in Germany, recently spent considerable time discussing e-books and the Google library project. The EU representative said that currently EU writers have to navigate 27 different copyright laws and regulations. The EU apparently has little quarrel with Google putting the public domain library on line. They are, however, suitably wary about how © material will be managed. Because they believe e-books are inevitable, the EU plans to develop EU-wide © rules and regs to protect writers.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...