Home » Copyright/Intellectual Property, Ebooks » Piracy, Saviour of the Book Industry

Piracy, Saviour of the Book Industry

30 January 2014

From Forbes blogs:

Piracy is portrayed as many things by many people. For the content industries, it’s portrayed as theft, despite that being legally inaccurate. For a subset of the free culture movement, piracy is just an expression of the adage that “information wants to be free”. For many, it’s a moral outrage. For some, it’s the only practical way they can access content, either because the item is not available any other way, or it costs far more than they can afford. And for others, it’s a protest against the evil hegemony of the film, music and book industries.

. . . .

Unfortunately, too many people across the publishing world have learnt the wrong lessons from the music industry and Hollywood. They focus on scaring people away from piracy, or suing them, or getting into a technological arms race with the DRM crackers — a race they are doomed to lose, by the way.

Instead, we need to face facts. Piracy’s here. It’s staying. We can’t stop it. So we need to find inventive and attractive ways to work around it.

. . . .

We need to think about what offers we can make to readers to encourage them to buy legitimate copies of our books, rather than download them for free. Is this bundling ebooks with paper books? Or special editions? Or box sets? Or merchandise? So many obvious opportunities for experimentation that pirates simply couldn’t match.

We need to create direct relationships with readers — and by ‘we’, here, I mean both authors and publishers — so that we can give them a reason, many reasons, to buy from us and not download illicit copies. We need to enable direct sales channels that we control, so that we get the benefit of all the data and intelligence that produces.

. . . .

I suspect that most people who go into publishing have a bit of an allergy when it comes to numbers, so hire in a statistician or analytics expert to help turn numbers into actionable intelligence. Stats by themselves aren’t the goal; improving your businesses’ bottom line is the goal. Data can help but only if you treat it with respect, understand its limitations, and talk its language.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs and thanks to Kathlena for the tip.

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Ebooks

37 Comments to “Piracy, Saviour of the Book Industry”

  1. The first time I was pirated I got a cheap thrill that someone thought the story was good enough to steal. 😆

  2. The year the first of my books were pirated, sales increased by 93% over the prior year.

  3. Check out the links in the original post. Many of you may have known about ReadMill, but I did not. Just added the app. And secondhand ebook sales? Talk about disruptive…

  4. I understand that the book pirates will copy anything, but that doesn’t mean the people will read it. Surely, even in piracy, there’s an element of discoverability?

    • This is true. I’ve spent almost twenty years in tech before retiring, and the truth is, that pirates never watch / listen to / read / play everything they ‘steal.’ There’s simply too much of it, just like those who binge-download freebies to their Kindle. They’ll probably never get around to reading half of the stories.

      Even in my own days of Napster, WinMX, Kazaa, etc., I had at one point over 50,000 mp3’s that I’d downloaded, and I maybe listened to about 25% of them.

      Sometimes pirates just pirate for the sake of pirating. Just like in the old days, they’d attack a ship or a shoreline village just because they were pirates and that’s what pirates do.

      • When I was in college, I discovered an archive that contained all of the Adobe PostScript fonts then available.

        I showed it to a person of my acquaintance, and they proceeded to download them all. Why? To say they had. For one moment, that person had all the Adobe fonts it was possible to have.

        To my sure and certain knowledge they didn’t even look at all of them, let alone install or use them. Some people are just like that.

  5. “We need to create direct relationships with readers — and by ‘we’, here, I mean both authors and publishers — so that we can give them a reason, many reasons, to buy from us and not download illicit copies.”

    I really don’t think any reader, including pirates, is out there to hurt authors. What some of them have, though, is a perception of the business side of the industry that’s far from based in reality, because they’ve never been exposed to the real figures.

    It would be helpful if some, say, mid-list authors revealed how much money they make. And if we compared it to what a teacher earns, of course factoring in health care, retirement plans and other benefits.

    • Nice thought but i would suggest that the miniscule % an author gets vs what the publisher gets is not an incentive to a “damn the man” anti-corporate-control pirate not to hurt the author. Potentially more of a disincentive, in fact, as the author is hurt less than the publisher in the equation even if the author feels it more.

      The true solution to piracy is (1) wide availability (2) at a reasonable price.

      I would consider it a compliment and another avenue of discoverability if my books ended up pirated. The only people who would take free bootlegs on books at my prices either genuinely can’t afford to buy or is the 5% who will never buy no matter what. Either way they might still offer word of mouth.

    • The ideas that novels are “information” and should be free, or that some people cannot afford to pay 7 to 15 dollars for a book and should therefore be able to read for free are both ridiculous. Novels are entertainment, and people have never begrudged the price of a movie or concert ticket, nor do they mind paying enormous amounts per month to the cable company to get TV.

      As to pleading the poverty of working writers, it’s naive to think that when it comes to money people will think of authors before they think of themselves.

  6. Paul Coelho, the novelist, noticed the sales of one of his books was booming in Russia and he wanted to find out why, so he started investigating. He discovered that there were pirated digital copies circulating. He cleverly put two and two together. Years ago, he adopted a policy of posting his works on torrent sites.

  7. Comment after Scath: Pirates: Steal my book. Please.

  8. I used to use one particular download site to find new authors. There were a couple of uploaders there that introduced me to a dozen authors from the UK, Australia and New Zealand that are now on my autobuy list when their books hit the US.

  9. it may not be the gay tea party some say. depends on where org. crime takes themoney it makes off membership fees for their pirating sites. You might not like where the moolah flows to in org crime groups. Not even a little. Perhaps no one is surprised that few check out down to the bones every last holder; no one asks what and who the fronts are, and how, where the money, unlaundered, goes. The ‘tra la la oh pirates pffft-no harm done’ is deafening. And naive beyond compare.

    • Interesting question. I don’t know anything about pirate sites and didn’t know there were membership fees. Are there? And, if so, where does the money go? To organized crime? Drug kings? Terrorist groups?

    • Truly. The notion that stealing the substance from the mouths of creatives is “no-harm-no-foul” is despicable. AND ignores the very real possibility that it feeds morally ambiguous organized crime entities which deal in arms smuggling, human trafficking, and addictive illegal drugs.If you want your books pirated, do as Barbara suggests and post them to pirate sites yourself. Who knows? You might discover a new path to mega-sales.


  10. Downloading from pirate sites is a risk. Files are full of malware and I can’t understand anyone taking the risk for a $5 book.

    • This is a common misconception that people who aren’t really knowledgeable about how piracy and pirate sites work.

      Sure, there are sites that try to inject code into your browser when you visit, and there are those who try to put extra files or alter the main file to infect downloaders.

      However, in the majority of pirate sites, torrent sites, ftp’s, usenet lists, etc, this is far from the truth.

      I’m not advocating piracy, just letting you know that to take this kind of outlook is incorrect. There’s very little risk to downloading pirated movies, books, games, etc.

      The biggest risk is from the companies that rights holders hire to patrol and send out DMCA notices or warnings to ISP’s concerning individual users who have downloaded copyrighted material.

      It’s always better to understand what you are up against than to just assume things.

      • Travis, I value your research, can you point to science based evidence of no risk of malware traveling not from pirate sites, but from the some potentially malevolent unknowns who upload to pirate sites and get a kick for messing people up?

        • Friendly Neighborhood Pirate

          USAF, I find it intriguing that you demand science-based evidence about piracy risk, yet provide none for your organized crime remarks. But that’s okay. I know where that idea comes from. And it’s not from what anyone would consider unbiased, uninterested parties.

          Truth is, if you know what you are doing, and know what you are looking for (which is most members of the pirate community who aren’t casual), you will run basically a zero risk for malware. That just isn’t tolerated in the community. Cream floats to the top. Chaff gets removed and violators banned.

          The biggest risk you run of pirating, say, a recent blockbuster movie, is a terrible rip with Russian subtitles. Not something that will eat your computer.

          The eat your computer risk of malware was an myth that came from the RIAA/MPAA who then uploaded a bunch of things that would do that to support their claims. This disrupted the community exactly never. You only find it still in places dedicated to spreading malware. They aren’t part of the pirating community. Their goal is a prey on the casual pirate who is too stupid to know better.

          Basically, if you aren’t asked to become a member or if you’re asked to involuntarily to surrender credit card info, the site you are at isn’t a safe space, and it isn’t really considered a proper entity among the pirate community.

          • USAF, read the friendly pirate response.

            But just for the sake of it, and keep in mind I don’t have any hard numbers (anymore than anyone else in this particular discussion has), I’ll give you my experiences from about twenty years in the tech industry, a good chunk of that dedicated to learning about piracy, taking part in piracy, helping companies learn about or combat piracy, and the overall majority of my work, which was cleaning out computer systems and networks from infections or other attacks.

            I’ve spent these two decades using usenet, ftp, Napster, Kazaa, BearShare, WinMX, torrents, digital lockers, direct downloads, private communities/forums, you name it, I’ve either become quite familiar with it because of personal experience, or I’ve become quite familiar with it via having to learn about such things.

            In my almost twenty years, there has never once, not a single time, never ever NEVER, that something has been ‘pirate proof.’ Nothing. NO matter how ridiculous the amount of DRM on it, no matter how restrictive, no matter how many hooks in the software called home and was supposed to disable itself when the query wasn’t answered correctly, there has never once been something digital that hasn’t been pirated.

            Keep in mind while all of this was going on, companies like Sony were putting rootkits (some of the worst things you can ever have on your computer) inside your Windows machines just because you bought one of their discs. Game developers like UbiSoft were basically disabling their own games by the sheer amount of clusterfuckery (that’s a word, btw, and I apologize to PG for being vulgar, but the term fits) that they heaped upon the game code (which led to a lot of machines unable to boot properly, or booting only after some serious Safe Mode fixing).

            No audio CD, no movie DVD or Blu-Ray or HD-DVD disc, no video game, no book, nothing has ever passed the ‘pirate proof’ test.

            Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the rate of infection to computers that belong to users actively searching for ‘pirated’ material (and I’ll anecdote some experiences with other website types, of which you know pornography will be a big player).

            People who wake up one day and say “I want Grand Theft Auto XIV for free” and go searching for it, they are at the biggest risk of infection. They (stupidly) use things like search engines and click on ads from shady sites (pornography sites for the most part, as well as plenty of ‘free music’ or ‘free movie’ type sites that don’t actually offer anything for free).

            These people are not pirates, and they tend to only attempt to pirate once. They either get an infection (though the infection almost always comes from the pornography sites from downloading ‘codecs’ or ‘media players’ yet the customer refused to admit perusing porn sites and blamed it all on the attempt at downloading an album or movie, but good geeks know computer forensics better than the clowns on CSI Miami and such). Or they end up going in circles, never actually downloading the movie or music they were after, instead doing endless clicks with each link saying “but for reals, this time the file that you wanted is guaranteed to be contained in this link!”

            You can imagine the frustration of this, not to mention having to pay someone like me $150+ to fix your mistakes.

            Then there’s the ‘casual’ pirate. I was a casual pirate (I had to be, and I also had to be a ‘hardcore’ pirate for a while as well to understand the “scene” and their rules). Casual pirates, before TPB (The Pirate Bay), used Napster, usenet, ftp, etc.

            Casual pirates know which sites to search from. They know which sites to download from. They know the naming conventions of “scene” material, which is like a seal of approval or a stamp of quality to those who pirate enough to begin noticing patterns in naming.

            Remember the big busts of “Razor1911” and other ‘hacker’ groups? These were “scene” players, and big ones. These groups had (still have, for those that are still around) contacts in every industry, and anytime a new album or movie or game had a ‘gold master’ printed (the master that went to the presses and/or mass distribution), a copy of it ended up in their email or on their ftp server.

            These groups would then strip out any and all DRM, repackage it (for music, ripping into VBR or CBR mp3’s, for movies, it was DivX with specific bitrates, now it is MP4 and MKV using H264 encoding), name it according to the conventions that the scene generally agreed upon, then uploaded them to a few ftp’s that were friendly. Within hours, the ftp’s would distribute them to whatever networks they were tied into, whether usenet, digital lockers, private or public torrent communities, etc. Data propagates so fast across the internet that it is impossible to stop without shutting down all of the major routers across the planet. Which was the goal of the internet, but that’s another discussion for another day.

            Anyway, these scene groups became ‘famous’ for the quality of their packaging. It meant you were getting a proper, working ‘rip’ of whatever media you were after if it was done by a scene group.

            Casual pirates learned these things, because it made it easier to find and retrieve these files. Casual pirates wouldn’t be caught dead using a search engine to find anything, unless that search engine was specific to the pirate site they were using (TPB’s search engine, for example).

            Casual pirates make up the majority of pirates as far as I can tell. These are the people that know just enough to get what they want, be it the new Beyonce or Lady Gaga album, the newest Call of Duty video game for Xbox/PS3/PC/Wii/whatever, or the 720p Game of Thrones episode that debuted last Sunday.

            They don’t need to go to porn sites or any malware/scamware/adware infected sites. A lot of them are savvy enough to use some extensions in their browsers like AdBlock Plus and Ghostery (not fail-safes for protection, but they add a little armor to your anti-virus).

            ‘Hardcore’ pirates are a smaller, yet growing group. These guys (and gals) not only know everything a casual user knows, but they also have access to private communities that can’t be tracked by the RIAA/MPAA or anyone else unless one of these organizations has someone that is an active member.

            Hardcores are also more tech savvy. They not only have FF or Chrome, and the standard extensions/add-ons, but they have custom HOSTS files (blocking IP’s at the base networking level within Windows), NoScript (an extremely powerful browser add-on that blocks everything on a web page until you let individual scripts and IP addresses have access), and black hole boxes (aka firewall boxes for some, but the same thing… these are virtual machines within your OS that are completely walled off, and you can execute ugly, infectious code within them without harming your OS).

            These guys have their torrent program set to anything but the default ports and parameters. They use SSL encryption on usenet. They know wtf they are doing, not just with ‘pirating’ but with a lot of other technology that goes hand-in-hand with pirating.

            The hardcores are growing fast, because being ‘hardcore’ is really simple if you are willing to spend a few hours learning how to do really easy things like ‘read some websites’ and ‘add in some browser extensions’ and such.

            The truth is, none of these people are ‘pirates’ even though we all label them as such. For the most part, they aren’t the persons uploading your book or your movie or your video game for everyone to download. Those are the ‘real’ pirates, and again, they all have someone inside each industry that feeds them the newest media. Ever notice that a movie isn’t coming out on DVD until Feb 9th but the high quality 1080p rip is already on TPB by Feb 2nd? Yep.

            Really, the ‘pirates’ like the casuals and hardcores, they are just ‘downloaders’ or even ‘thieves’ if that’s your view. The real pirates are the uploaders, the ones that take YOUR product and reproduce it for free across the internet.

            Like drugs, the little street guy (mostly the users) get busted by the RIAA/MPAA thanks to threatening lawsuits and threatening threats to their ISP’s. The actual dealers, the guys who produce the drugs, they almost never get caught, and when they do, it’s almost always a huge operation with multiple law enforcement agencies working together.

            Now, all of that being said, the #1 infection I’ve run across (consider I’ve probably had my hands in 10k or more computers in my career, some of those are 500+ client networks which ended up with a ‘wildfire’ infection that spread like…well, wildfire) is from pornography.

            Not the pirating of pornography, but mostly just the visiting of pornographic websites in hopes of watching some porn. Or download pictures. Whatever. Sites that say you need this or that codec (and they just happen to have a handy download!), or this or that media player. Some sites just inject malicious code into your crappy, unprotected browser.

            The shady digital locker sites that require you to sign up, give personal information, buy something, or click through 10,000 advertisements before serving your file are probably the second worst types when it comes to ease of infections.

            I’ve watched clients click through literally fifty pages just to get a five minute mp3. When people want something, they will click and click and click and click until they either get it (and usually an equivalent of an STD for their computer), or their computer freezes up from the tons of crap running in the background that ate up all of the memory and have the hard disks spinning like a neutron star.

            And then there’s the HUGE amount of users who still don’t use an anti-virus. These people… (shrug)

            But let’s also talk about the 800lb gorilla in the room when it comes to these pirate-y types. These days, ‘pirates’ who download your work are not even required to get on the internet. They simply ask a nerd friend like me to get them the latest Homeland episode, or they want to see “Gravity” (either TS, which means ‘someone shot it with a handheld camera in a theater, or the actual rip from a legit disc, usually a screener that goes out to the awards groups).

            Maybe they want to play the single-player campaign of Battlefield 4 and not pay the $60 for the rest of it. A number of them might even have modified gaming consoles, and now only have to ask people like me for the burned DVD of the new Zelda or Mario Kart or Killzone. Not even “DLC” is safe, as it gets ripped and uploaded as well.

            And these people risk nothing. They simply know they can get things like HBO and Showtime and DVD’s and MP3’s and games for free because they are dating a guy like me, or related to a guy like me, or are good friends with a guy like me.

            A guy like me is your worst enemy if you are absolutely adamant about being against piracy. The only way to stop a guy like me from pirating your work is to never release it on the internet.

            And even then, you aren’t safe. I’ve helped a company before that was trying to determine if their music notation books (guitar tablature) being scanned on a flatbed scanner and uploaded to various sites was truly as huge of an issue as someone in the company made it out to be. The instant flatbed scanners became consumer-grade items, people were scanning and uploading anything and everything from your books to the latest issues of Hustler and High Times.

            So I suppose to wrap up this long-winded bit of nonsense, the answer is, I don’t have hard data, but the data (experience) I do have is probably greater than any one hundred of you posting about this article / having this discussion.

            It doesn’t make me automatically correct, I’ll be the first to admit that. But it does give me more insight than most others. There’s a reason I spend an hour or two on a single post trying to get people to understand the difference between PIRACY and ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

            Piracy is idiots like me downloading your products for free, and possibly giving them to family/friends for free on top of that.

            OCA is when a site is selling your product and you are not getting a cut of it.

            There are two major differences in how to approach this. Piracy is unstoppable. You may scoff or argue or scream or deny or whatever it is you want to do, but you will not, ever, never, stop piracy. You cannot unless you control the entire internet and can kick everyone off it (and then they’ll find other ways to distribute… we were pirating Commodore64 games via the back of magazines long, long before the internet, even before the old BBS’s).

            Stop trying. “Pirate sites” are almost always located outside of the USA, and your feeble DMCA notice is laughable at best, an invitation to really p*** you off by those you send it to that have nothing better to do than harass you in some way.

            If you aren’t sure about this, go look at The Pirate Bay. They’ve been banned, had laws passed, members arrested, switch and router blocks, and yet… *gasp* they are still around, and doing more ‘business’ than ever. Look at the way they mock anyone that sends them a DMCA notice. Our (American) laws are worthless outside of our borders, and they know it.

            So please, just give up.

            However, when it comes to OCA, where someone is making money from your product directly (not from advertisements like ‘typical’ pirate sites do, TPB included), it’s a much different story.

            These sites are different by the very nature that they have to have some sort of electronic payment transaction system. No person that I know of can simply say “I accept VISA” and you give them your VISA # and they deposit the amount they charged to their bank account.

            These sites need some sort of transaction middleman. There has to be a tie to a bank, unless using BitCoin, but that’s a different discussion as well. Organized criminal gangs need a way to process your CC# when you buy something from these OCA sites. VISA isn’t going to just let any Joe Johnson (or Vladimir Kostoyevsky, whatever) process payments, and even if they do, once legal action begins, all of those accounts tend to get frozen (assuming you can bring legal action against them within their country of origin, which can be a task).

            99% of the time, this is actually easier than people think. The major credit card issuers, they don’t like having to pay back fraudulent charges, but worse, they do not like to be implicated in OCA, as they can sometimes be charged as accomplices, or as money launderers. Mastercard doesn’t want word getting out that they are complicit with companies/organizations that not only have ties to organized crime, but sell copyrighted materials illegally. This is really bad PR beyond the legal ramifications.

            SO when you see your work being SOLD on one of these sites, you don’t foolishly contact the site owners and demand (or even ask) to be taken seriously. You find out who their payment merchant company is, and you threaten legal action with them.

            Usually one of two things happen right away. One is that the merchant takes action, suspends the offending account while they investigate, and then they get back to you (usually pretty quickly, it’s easy to prove a site is selling your copyrighted material illegally).

            When justice is served, the OCA and their site gets their ability to conduct electronic transactions shut down. Sure, they’ll quickly go get another one to begin doing business again, but money is the heart of these enterprises. Imagine if Amazon goes down for one hour, and cannot process payments. Your typical OCA site is nothing like Amazon, but a site that might be raking in $2000/hour suddenly raking in $0/hour because they can’t transact, and they can’t access their frozen merchant accounts… that’s hitting them hard.

            The other likely scenario is that the merchant tells you to go take a flying %#@#$ leap off a cliff. Which is fine, as these merchants are authorized by VISA, MC, Discover, AMEX, etc, to accept payments. VISA doesn’t want this kind of legal trouble hanging over them or their name. So you contact someone in the proper departments (usually the Fraud divisions) and get the ball rolling (extra helpful if you have an attorney who knows wtf they are doing).

            Basically, stop going after the drug user (the downloader), and go after the dealers and suppliers. Criminals are after money. Downloaders are only after your new book or TV show. If you shut down a downloader, he’ll just get a new ISP and be up and running again in no time, and won’t be hurting you (trust me, you aren’t Stephen King or James Patterson, so don’t fool yourself that you are losing millions, even tens of thousands of dollars because of TPB… these people weren’t going to buy your stuff anyway).

            Go after the money. Always go after the money. And stop looking at pornography online. Or at least stop going to every random porn page you can find in your frenzy to see it.

            But just to reiterate the long-winded point, USAF, no, people don’t get infections for the most part while trying to download your blood, sweat, and tears. They download your BST and enjoy it without paying for it. They have people like me to help them, and they have people like me to show them how to get it themselves without getting infections. We show them where to go, what to look for, how to download, how to cover your tracks… and it isn’t hard at all.

            I apologize for this huge wall of text. Some of this is stuff you’ve seen me post before. Sometimes it needs to be repeated. I’m not an advocate for piracy. I simply know the ‘underground’ better than probably all of you (maybe not all, but most).

            There’s too much disinformation, but worse, there’s simply too much bullheaded “no matter what you say I believe my own version of things” these days, and with artists like us, it is at a fever pitch most of the time.

            Tell me after twenty years how piracy has grown almost exponentially, that it can be fought successfully?

            Go after the money. Forget the downloaders. You want to hurt ‘pirates’ then hit their banks, their merchants, their web hosts, their own country’s law enforcement agencies.

      • Plus, generally speaking, if you have a decent, recent antivirus app that’s up to date, on those rare occasions you do download something with malware in it, it won’t let you open it. (If you do so anyway, well, the fault is your own.)

      • When Stephen King’s “Joyland” came out in paperback (with no ebook planned), I checked http://www.filetubes.com just to see if someone had pirated it. There were plenty of links, but nearly all of them went to hinky sites that triggered malware warnings. I decided not to pursue that investigation.

        Personally, I have no interest in reading pirated books. The library fills that need, and books older than a year I can get through interlibrary loans. If I really want to read a favorite author, I’ll spend the money to buy the book. There’s not that much incentive.

        As for antivirus apps Chris mentions, Microsoft Security Essentials seems to do a great job protecting my computer. But I have no interest in testing it for so little gain. YMMV in the end.

  11. When I lived in China everyone bought DVDs on the street. Maybe 10 RMB, which is $1.25 or so.

    After awhile I found a place online I could get them for free. That was after the government started to crack down, probably from American pressure.

    There were more people over there watching pirated DVDs than there are people in the US.

    What are you going to do about that? How are you going to stop something like that? And does it have the negative affect that you think it does?

    Negative for who? For you? Those DVDs didn’t cost me anything. Sure, lawyers will argue that it did, but I live in poverty – how can they convince me of anything, what with their fancy suits and shiny shoes?

    If someone pirated my eBook it would help me. It’d create new fans long-term. And if all my books get pirated? Well then I guess I don’t make any money, now do I?

    For a lawyer that would be unfathomable, that someone couldn’t care about money.

    Go live in China for 5 years. That’s all they think about there.

  12. I once tried to make this point to a vapid columnist once.

  13. To repeat an argument I had with one of my more annoying professors once in early ’00’s; were it not for the Piratebay, I’d have never heard of the Discworld books, or Honor Harrington, or a dozen other series. My library in school was a joke.

    Piratebay is a great place to ‘discover’ new books, you just have to filter by order of seeds to see what is truly popular. Pity they don’t have a better search engine though, with more torrents properly tagged.

    Now I’m just trying to decide if I should ‘pirate’ a few of my own smut tales on piratebay, or not. Might be a fun experiment, in anycase. At worst, I doubt I’d be out many real sells.

    • Of course, these days anyone can buy my books, and return them through amazon ten seconds later, so pirates aren’t really worth worrying about even if they did hurt sales. Which they don’t, generally.

  14. Eric Flint covered piracy at length September 2011. http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2011/09/26/salvos-against-big-brother/

  15. If I lived in a town and sold physical goods (veggies or paperbacks) and townies (small limited market) were stealing my merchandise, that would be awful. But when the market for potential customers is huge (hundreds of millions) and some are “stealing” my digital goods, I wouldn’t mind so much. The way the delivery systems work today, it’s easier for someone with a living wage to just purchase an item and be done with it. Folks who can’t afford–or refuse to pay for–yachts, Rolex watches and ebooks (or anything else) are not in the market for these goods. In the end, I gain a “customer” I otherwise wouldn’t have (with an upside potential for network effects) and I lose nothing.

    The bottom line is, for some goods in some markets, the cost of enforcement of the owner’s rights are not worth it in the final analysis. And making it difficult for the legitimate customers to purchase merchandise may hurt the owner of the right being protected.

    As a personal anecdote, I’ve emailed ebooks to friends and they ask me “So how do I get it on my Kindle?” For this type of person you don’t want any technological barriers to get in the way of a potential purchase transaction.

  16. My book was put on a free download site the day after I published it.

    Some people who read pirated books don’t even realize they’re pirated. A guy at work told me he googles “free John Grisham books” and gets all these books for free! I told him they’re pirated. He insisted no, not pirated. Just free. LOL

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