Piracy

Piracy down, legal sales up

4 August 2018

From The IP Kat:

The percentage of internet users in Europe that occasionally download or stream content illegally has decreased between 2014 and 2017. The decrease occurs for music, films/series and books. For games, the pattern is mixed. Meanwhile, expenditure on legal content has increased in most countries. This follows from the Global Online Piracy Study conducted by the Institute for Information Law (IViR) together with Ecorys.

. . . .

The research team conducted consumer surveys among nearly 35,000 respondents, including over 7,000 minors, in13 countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, and Thailand. The survey deals with the acquisition and consumption of music, films, series, books andgames through legal and illegal channels. Illegal channels studied are downloading and streaming from illegal sources (including via dedicated technical devices), and streamrippingComparative legal research was performed on the basis of questionnaires on the legal status of online copyright infringement and enforcement, completed by legal experts in the 13 countries.

. . . .

Despite some legal uncertainty, the majority of acts studied are qualified as direct copyright infringement by users or give rise to liability for intermediaries. Moreover, ISPs are often subject to injunctions and duties of care even when they benefit from safe harbours. On the whole, copyright holders have a vast arsenal of legal enforcement measures to deploy against end users and ISPs. There is a trend in many countries toward copyright enforcement through civil or administrative measures aimed at blocking websites that provide access to infringing content. Notices to infringers and to platforms hosting or linking to infringing content with the aim of removing/blocking such content are likewise regularly used, the latter in the context of notice-and-takedown systems. Criminal measures are less popular.
Still, despite the abundance of enforcement measures, their perceived effectiveness is uncertain. Therefore, it is questionable whether the answer to successfully tackling online copyright infringement lies in additional rights or enforcement measures, especially if these will not lead to additional revenue for copyright holders and risk coming into conflict with fundamental rights of users and intermediaries. Instead, it might be sensible to search for the answer to piracy in the provision of affordable and convenient legal access to copyright-protected content.

Link to the rest at The IP Kat

E-book Watermarking

25 June 2018

From Copyright and Technology:

There’s been lots and lots of talk about DRM for e-books over the years. Lots of controversy, debates, diatribes, conference panels, etc. Watermarking? Not so much. That’s despite the fact that e-book watermarking has been in use for much longer than most people realize, and that it has recently become very popular in certain geographies, such as much of Europe. The dramatic imbalance of information about DRM and watermarking — especially in the U.S. — is not doing the publishing industry any favors in properly evaluating content protection options.

. . . .

Watermarking is a technique for embedding information in e-book files — typically information about the purchaser of the e-book and/or the place where it was purchased. Technical publishers such as O’Reilly and Springer have been inserting purchasers’ email addresses on every page of their PDF e-books for many years. More recently, e-book distributors such as Pottermore (the distributor of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter e-books) have been embedding user or transaction IDs that are known to the distributor but not meaningful to the public.

Back in 2007, Bill McCoy — then General Manager of the e-book business at Adobe, now head of publishing at W3C — advocated a watermarking-style solution to replace DRM, which he called “social DRM.” He was referring to the idea that if your name or email address is embedded in a document, you’re less likely to “overshare” it. The term “social DRM” stuck; it also led some industry writers to refer to watermarking as a type of DRM and even to use the incorrect term “watermark DRM.”

Watermarking is not DRM. This is especially the case if you accept the definition of DRM that the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Software Foundation, and others use, “Digital Restrictions Management.” Watermarked e-books have no restrictions on their use in e-readers, and retailers can’t use them to construct the kinds of walled gardens that some of them have with DRM. Any e-reader that can read the e-book’s format (PDF, EPUB, KF8, etc.) can read a watermarked e-book.

Watermarking also does not apply to the same set of distribution models as DRM does. Watermarking generally applies to retail sales, as well as certain special situations such as pre-release distribution of review copies; it isn’t used (by itself) with models such as subscriptions and library e-book lending.

Nevertheless, a growing number of e-book distributors are now using watermarking instead of DRM. As the white paper explains, this is especially true in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and many Central and Eastern European countries. Watermarking techniques have evolved so that they are not as easy to remove from e-book files as they used to be; today’s watermarking providers use multiple redundant techniques, so that someone who tries to strip a file of watermarks can’t be sure that all of the watermarks are gone.

The lack of popularity of watermarking in the North American e-book market stems from a combination of factors. Major e-book retailers aren’t motivated to give up their DRMs because doing so would diminish their walled gardens, and publishers aren’t insisting on it in their negotiations with those retailers. But just as importantly, there’s a general lack of awareness of watermarking compared to that of DRM, particularly among authors and agents who can specify it in contracts with publishers. While more research is needed to discover the relative benefits of DRM and watermarking in curbing infringement, this is a logjam that ought to be broken.

Link to the rest at Copyright and Technology

The OP contains a link to the source of a white paper about watermarking ebooks.

‘We’re told to be grateful we even have readers’: pirated ebooks threaten the future of book series

7 November 2017

From The Guardian:

According to the Intellectual Property Office’s latest study of online copyright infringement, 17% of ebooks read online are pirated – around 4m books.

Ebook piracy is “a very significant issue and of great concern” to publishers, said Stephen Lotinga of the Publishers Association, which works to take down and block pirated ebooks links and sites. “As an industry we’ve not had the situation that the music and film industries have gone through,” Lotinga said. “But that obviously is 4m ebooks that authors and publishers aren’t getting paid for, and should be getting paid for, and it’s a particular worry for publishers at a time when ebook sales are slightly in decline.”

. . . .

Shannon wrote on Twitter that “the thing that’s really exhausting about piracy is that authors are often not allowed to be upset by theft of their work. If we ask people not to do it, no matter how courteously, we’re told we should have more compassion or be grateful we even have readers. Outside the creative industry, people broadly dislike theft. Within the creative industry, it becomes a grey area where people aren’t sure.”

“Authors who ask you not to pirate are not attacking people who are too poor to afford books, or people who genuinely can’t access libraries,” wrote Shannon – but Lotinga at the Publishers Association said that those people were not often the perpetrators. Ebook pirates “tend to be from better-off socio-economic groups, and to be aged between 31 and 50-something. “It’s not the people who can’t afford books,” he said. “It’s not teenagers in their rooms.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Nate at The Digital Reader for the tip.

An Objective Analysis of Piracy Site Blocking

3 November 2017

From Brett Danaher:

Arguments against piracy website blocking seem to mostly take one of two forms:  there are arguments about it violating freedom speech or potentially “breaking the Internet” (to use a popular phrase), and there are arguments of the form “it won’t have any impact, you can still find ways to pirate any content you want, so why do it?”  I’m not a legal scholar, so I don’t have any special expertise on freedom of speech.  I’m also not an expert on the technical side of the Internet – although I do know that site blocking has been implemented in over 40 countries and in studying site blocking in several of those countries I’ve seen no evidence of a “broken Internet” or even a serious challenge to net neutrality.  But I would leave the arguments about this to those whose expertise lies in the area of Internet policy regulation.

That said, I can offer my expertise on the argument that website blocking won’t have any impact because pirate content can always be found somewhere.  I’ve been doing empirical research on this claim for the better part of a decade now; specifically, I’ve been looking at whether supply side antipiracy policies – enforcement actions that target piracy sites or protocols – can influence consumers to turn from illegal channels to legal ones.  And I’ve been keeping an eye on the research of colleagues asking this same question.  My findings are summarized in a peer-reviewed article published in Communications of the ACM.

. . . .

Basically, there is no evidence of a supply side antipiracy action that completely removes popular content from the Internet – you can always find it somewhere.  And there is evidence that antipiracy actions that do not make piracy sufficiently difficult have no meaningful impact on legal sales or total piracy, because consumers can either find other sites from which to pirate the content or circumvent the enforcement actions.

. . . .

However, research also shows that taking actions against piracy sites can sometimes make piracy so inconvenient that a meaningful group of marginal consumers will turn their behavior from illegal sources to legal ones.  For example, Mike Smith and I found that when Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com (the two largest piracy cyberlockers in the world) were both shutdown, many sites that linked to their content stopped working and many cyberlockers shifted their policies to be less tolerant toward copyright infringement.  The result was a causal increase in revenues from digital movie sales and rentals of about 7.5%.  Later, along with Rahul Telang, we found that even though the UK blocking the thepiratebay.org caused little decrease in total piracy and no increase in legal consumption, the UK blocking of 19 major video piracy sites in November 2013 caused a 12% increase in legal consumption and a large decrease in total piracy.  Later, when 53 more piracy websites were blocked in November 2014, we found a similar effect.

The point is that supply side antipiracy actions fail when they only slightly raise the difficulty of pirating content, but seem to succeed in nudging consumption toward legal channels when they sufficiently raise the cost/inconvenience of pirating content.

Link to the rest at Brett Danaher

A Story About Piracy

31 October 2017

From author Maggie Stiefvater:

I’ve decided to tell you guys a story about piracy.

I didn’t think I had much to add to the piracy commentary I made yesterday, but after seeing some of the replies to it, I decided it’s time for this story.

Here are a few things we should get clear before I go on:

1) This is a U.S. centered discussion. Not because I value my non U.S. readers any less, but because I am published with a U.S. publisher first, who then sells my rights elsewhere. This means that the fate of my books, good or bad, is largely decided on U.S. turf, through U.S. sales to readers and libraries.

2) This is not a conversation about whether or not artists deserve to get money for art, or whether or not you think I in particular, as a flawed human, deserve money. It is only about how piracy affects a book’s fate at the publishing house.

3) It is also not a conversation about book prices, or publishing costs, or what is a fair price for art, though it is worthwhile to remember that every copy of a blockbuster sold means that the publishing house can publish new and niche voices. Publishing can’t afford to publish the new and midlist voices without the James Pattersons selling well.

It is only about two statements that I saw go by:

1) piracy doesn’t hurt publishing.

2) someone who pirates the book was never going to buy it anyway, so it’s not a lost sale.

Now, with those statements in mind, here’s the story.

. . . .

It’s the story of a novel called The Raven King, the fourth installment in a planned four book series. All three of its predecessors hit the bestseller list. Book three, however, faltered in strange ways. The print copies sold just as well as before, landing it on the list, but the e-copies dropped precipitously.

. . . .

I expected to see a sales drop in book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but as my readers are historically evenly split across the formats, I expected it to see the cut balanced across both formats. This was absolutely not true. Where were all the e-readers going? Articles online had headlines like PEOPLE NO LONGER ENJOY READING EBOOKS IT SEEMS.

Really?

There was another new phenomenon with Blue Lily, Lily Blue, too — one that started before it was published. Like many novels, it was available to early reviewers and booksellers in advanced form (ARCs: advanced reader copies). Traditionally these have been cheaply printed paperback versions of the book. Recently, e-ARCs have become common, available on locked sites from publishers.

BLLB’s e-arc escaped the site, made it to the internet, and began circulating busily among fans long before the book had even hit shelves. Piracy is a thing authors have been told to live with, it’s not hurting you, it’s like the mites in your pillow, and so I didn’t think too hard about it until I got that royalty statement with BLLB’s e-sales cut in half.

. . . .

Floating about in the forums and on Tumblr as a creator, it was not difficult to see fans sharing the pdfs of the books back and forth. For awhile, I paid for a service that went through piracy sites and took down illegal pdfs, but it was pointless. There were too many. And as long as even one was left up, that was all that was needed for sharing.

I asked my publisher to make sure there were no e-ARCs available of book four, the Raven King, explaining that I felt piracy was a real issue with this series in a way it hadn’t been for any of my others. They replied with the old adage that piracy didn’t really do anything, but yes, they’d make sure there was no e-ARCs if that made me happy.

Then they told me that they were cutting the print run of The Raven King to less than half of the print run for Blue Lily, Lily Blue. No hard feelings, understand, they told me, it’s just that the sales for Blue Lily didn’t justify printing any more copies.

. . . .

I was intent on proving that piracy had affected the Raven Cycle, and so I began to work with one of my brothers on a plan. It was impossible to take down every illegal pdf; I’d already seen that. So we were going to do the opposite. We created a pdf of the Raven King. It was the same length as the real book, but it was just the first four chapters over and over again. At the end, my brother wrote a small note about the ways piracy hurt your favorite books. I knew we wouldn’t be able to hold the fort for long — real versions would slowly get passed around by hand through forum messaging — but I told my brother: I want to hold the fort for one week. Enough to prove that a point. Enough to show everyone that this is no longer 2004. This is the smart phone generation, and a pirated book sometimes is a lost sale.

Then, on midnight of my book release, my brother put it up everywhere on every pirate site. He uploaded dozens and dozens and dozens of these pdfs of The Raven King. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one of his pdfs. We sailed those epub seas with our own flag shredding the sky.

The effects were instant. The forums and sites exploded with bewildered activity. Fans asked if anyone had managed to find a link to a legit pdf. Dozens of posts appeared saying that since they hadn’t been able to find a pdf, they’d been forced to hit up Amazon and buy the book.

And we sold out of the first printing in two days.

Link to the rest at Maggie Stiefvater and thanks to Barb and others for the tip.

Here’s a link to Maggie Stiefvater’s books (hopefully all legit). If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG loved Maggie’s strategy. Since she’s the owner of the copyright in her books, she can put up legal versions of the first four chapters of her book.

Depending on the wording of her publishing contract, it’s probably not a violation of the contract. If it is a technical violation, PG doubts any publisher would complain about her use of a portion of the book for anti-piracy purposes, particularly since it proved to be an excellent sales promotion strategy.

PG wonders if there’s an anti-piracy/sales promotion business to be created out of this strategy. The basis for the business would be to flood fan forums with incomplete copies of a book in the manner described in the OP in order to boost legitimate sales. If a pirate uploaded a complete copy, the anti-piracy business could respond by posting warnings on the forum that the pirate copy was another defective one.

PG hasn’t thought through the legal implications of polluting the pools where pirates swim, but he’s in a mood today. As Maggie clearly demonstrates in the OP, piracy does steal ebook sales from from legitimate online stores and definitely harms authors.

PG doesn’t advise escalating the strategy further by implanting a harmless virus in an incomplete pdf copy of a book and uploading that to forums where illegal copies are circulated, however. However, a flurry of antivirus program warnings that were triggered when a pirated copy was downloaded might further discourage the use of illegal copies.

Or, perhaps, simply posting messages on the pirate forums warning that some illegal pdf copies on the forum contained a virus might serve the same purpose.

While he doesn’t claim to be a programmer, PG suspects writing a simple program to at least partially automate this anti-piracy strategy would not be terribly difficult.

For clarification, this is not the lawyer’s side of PG’s brain producing these thoughts. PG has an anarchist section of his brain that he keeps carefully separated from the attorney section.

The lawyer side of PG’s brain does say that filing suit against the operators of forums devoted to ebook piracy is another possible approach. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act provides some protection to owners of such forums, but PG suspects an inventive attorney could find some ways to make the lives of the organizers and hosts of such forums uncomfortable.

So, for a final warning, PG is not making recommendations here, only speculating about possible anti-piracy strategies and giving his anarchic self a bit of morning air. He’ll stop listening to the voices in his head for the rest of the day.

‘Pirate’ EBook Site Refuses Point Blank to Cooperate With BREIN

26 October 2017
Comments Off on ‘Pirate’ EBook Site Refuses Point Blank to Cooperate With BREIN

From Torrent Freak:

A site focusing on eBooks is being pressured by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. Among other things, Eboek.info says it provides digital versions of comics to people who’ve already bought a physical copy but BREIN insists this is illegal. The site says it won’t be giving in to BREIN’s demands, adding that Cloudflare’s services offer no protection against copyright groups.

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is probably best known for its legal action against The Pirate Bay but the outfit also tackles many other forms of piracy.

A prime example is the case it pursued against a seller of fully-loaded Kodi boxes in the Netherlands. The subsequent landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice will reverberate around Europe for years to come.

Behind the scenes, however, BREIN persistently tries to take much smaller operations offline, and not without success. Earlier this year it revealed it had taken down 231 illegal sites and services includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

Link to the rest at Torrent Freak

People who Pirate eBooks Do Not Buy Them

12 September 2017

From Good Ereader:

There are millions of pirated ebooks online and many publishers have begun to go after the pirates and either shut them down or block access to websites via an ISP. New research suggests that this might be futile, removing ebooks online does not influence sales. That is it say, pirates are not suddenly buying the book from an online retailer such as Amazon or Kobo.

Three researchers from Poland’s University of Warsaw conducted an analysis that covered some 240 books  in the Polish market in 2016, with a range of genres represented by titles published by 10 companies that agreed to take part in the program.

“We signed an agreement with a professional agency that deals with such research activities,” Krawczyk told Ludwika Tomala from Poland’s news agency PAP. The agency removed pirated copies of some 120 books” from the Internet, Krawczyk said to Tomala. “Whether pirated copies were easy or difficult to obtain turned out not to have an actual impact on the sales of a given book.”

“While most of the publishers suspected a negative impact of piracy on legal sales,” the researchers wrote, “we find no evidence of a significant shift in sales because of pirated copies being available online.”

. . . .

It is estimated that pirated content costs the publishing industry over $315 million dollars in 2016.

Link to the rest at Good Ereader

Australia Blocks Dozens of Pirate eBook Websites

21 August 2017

From GoodEReader:

Authorities in Australia have ordered internet service providers to block over 50 different piracy websites. These companies have 15 days to comply and it will be a blow to people who are downloading digital comics, ebooks, magazines and newspapers for free.

Graham Burke, Village Roadshow’s co-CEO and the head honcho of anti-piracy group Creative Content Australia (previously known as the IP Awareness Foundation), said: “This is a historic moment for Australia to have what is effectively 95% of the criminal trade blocked. The thieves who run pirate sites contribute nothing to Australia — they employ no one and pay no taxes here. Of the enormous profits they earn, not one cent goes back to the original creators of the content.”tent.”

. . . .

Earlier in the year a new study was published that looked into the type of people who pirated books the most. The study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it. Overall, the majority of illegal downloaders are relatively well-educated, with more than 70% having either graduated from college or in possession of a post graduate degree.

Link to the rest at GoodEReader

Next Page »