E-book pirate party ends in UK as Australia mulls own site-blocking legislation

4 June 2015

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Australia’s Copyright Agency has welcomed a decision by the British High Court requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites hosting millions of pirated e-book titles.

The decision comes as a Senate Committee is due to submit its final report next week on site-blocking legislation in Australia, which would allow copyright holders to force Australian ISPs via the courts to block copyright infringing websites such as these.

The decision means Britain’s  five major ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – will be asked to block seven offshore-hosted websites within 10 working days.

The sites – AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre, Ebookee, Freebookspot, Freshwap and LibGen – are currently accessible in Australia and host download links to full copies of e-books, including from best-selling Australian authors such as Tim Winton and Fiona McIntosh.

If passed, the federal government’s Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015, currently before the House of Representatives, would allow Australian publishers to apply through the courts to block “online locations” which facilitate piracy of content such as films, TV series, e-books and news articles.

. . . .

Other parties, such as consumer rights group CHOICE, have called site-blocking “demonstrably ineffective”, arguing that determined pirates can circumvent blocked sites with the aid of tools such as virtual private networks (VPNs). They also argue the costs of administering site-blocking will ultimately be passed on to consumers.

. . . .

The British High Court case marks the first time e-book publishers have sought an order forcing ISPs to block access to infringing sites.

The British Publishers Association said about 80 per cent of the 10 million or so titles hosted on the websites named in the case – and in some cases as much as 90 per cent – were found to be infringing copyright.

Publishers had already issued 1 million take-down notices relating to infringing material on the sites, the association said.

Link to the rest at Sydney Morning Herald

Pirate Bay Taken Offline, Raided By Police

10 December 2014

From Consumerist:

The Pirate Bay, perhaps the most popular — certainly the best known — destination for anyone looking to score pirated movies, music, books, games, and other digital content, was taken offline earlier today after a raid by police in Stockholm.

TorrentFreak reports that the site, which connects users for peer-to-peer file sharing via BitTorrent, went offline earlier today without notice. Shortly after came news that authorities in the Bay’s home country of Sweden had seized servers and computers from an unspecified location.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” reads a statement from the police national coordinator for IP enforcement in Sweden.

Link to the rest at Consumerist and thanks to Tymber for the tip.

Amazon has a serious ebook theft problem

8 December 2014

From Geek:

It would appear as though Amazon has a problem with author accounts being used to steal books and resell them under another name, as Kindle Direct Publishing users discover a single author with 37 titles under their belt. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that the author labeled as the creator of the ebook had absolutely nothing to do with its creation.

. . . .

There doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the books that have been published under the name Jay Cute, with titles ranging from the obscure that are available for free on Amazon to the first in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series. The prices range the spectrum that Amazon allows for Kindle Direct Publishing accounts, and in some cases the publisher hasn’t even bothered to change the cover of the book when publishing under this new name. The books that do have different cover art seem to have either a random image or a cover from another book entirely.

For whatever reason, Amazon has yet to respond to the dozen angry authors and the 310 One Star reviews calling out these books as being published illegally.

Link to the rest at Geek and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Wattpad Pirates Get Craftier

14 November 2014

From Publishers Weekly:

A zero-tolerance policy on Wattpad, the social media site that claims 35 million readers and writers worldwide, has not done away with the problem of digital piracy on the site. Earlier this month over 41,000 readers downloaded free copies of a novel by New York Times bestselling author Jasinda Wilder, which had been pirated. The incident, Wilder estimated, cost her roughly $168,000 in royalties.

“Most of us indie authors know plagiarism is out there,” says Wilder, whose novel Alpha was posted by a Wattpadder earlier this month, under a different author and title. “Some of us ignore it, and others hire companies to do take down.”

Even though Wilder pays two companies to search for illegal postings—one found close to 32,000 of them—it’s unlikely that any company could have found Wilder’s pirated work on Wattpad. The plagiarizer gave the book a new name, My Dominant Alpha, along with new cover art. The title was also posted by a different user: Amyleigh153. Because Wattpad pirates are now changing basic, but key, elements of the original work, they have become an even more worrisome issue for authors on the website.

It was a reader who ultimately brought Amyleigh153’s work to Wilder’s attention. It took another 18 hours, from when Wilder initially contacted Wattpad, for the site to remove the work.

. . . .

 Plagiarizers on sites like Wattpad often commit their crimes to develop a following, so that they can rely on an established audience to purchase their own paid work.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Netflix Has A Surprising Relationship With Piracy Sites

18 September 2013

From Business Insider:

It’s easy to imagine that Netflix despises pirating websites that allow people to download movies and TV shows for free. After all, it only takes some Internet digging and a lax moral code to find the gratis versions of the same content you would pay $7.99 a month for on Netflix.

Instead, though, file-sharing sites like BitTorrent help Netflix improve its business by making it obvious what shows people want to watch.

Speaking ahead of the company’s launch in the Netherlands, Netflix’s Vice President of Content Acquisition Kelly Merryman said that the company actually checks out piracy websites for ideas about what Netflix should offer. If something is crazy-popular on file-sharing websites, Netflix is more likely to purchase it.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

Illegal downloading is moral squalor

16 September 2013

From The Guardian:

Illegal downloading is a kind of “moral squalor” and theft as much as reaching in to someone’s pocket and stealing their wallet is theft, the author Philip Pullman will say this week.

In an article for Index on Censorship, Pullman, who is president of the Society of Authors, makes a robust defence of copyright laws. He is withering about internet users who think it is OK to download music or books without paying for them.

“The technical brilliance is so dazzling that people can’t see the moral squalor of what they’re doing,” he writes. “It is outrageous that anyone can steal an artist’s work and get away with it. It is theft, as surely as reaching into someone’s pocket and taking their wallet is theft.”

. . . .

Pullman, writer of the His Dark Materials trilogy, says authors and musicians work in poverty and obscurity for years to bring their work to the level “that gives delight to their audiences, and as soon as they achieve that, the possibility of making a living from it is taken away from them”.

He concludes: “The principle is simple, and unaltered by technology, science or magic: if we want to enjoy the work that someone does, we should pay for it.”

. . . .

Casserly argues that there is much wrong with copyright, which was created “in an analogue age”. She writes: “By default, copyright closes the door on countless ways that people can share, build upon, and remix each other’s work, possibilities that were unimaginable when those laws were established.”

She says artists need to think creatively about how they distribute and monetise their work, quoting the science fiction writer Cory Doctorow who said: “My problem is not piracy, it’s obscurity.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Nick for the tip.

HBO: We Know You’re Pirating ‘Game Of Thrones’ And That’s Fine

9 August 2013

Since ebook piracy is a continuing topic of discussion.

From Business Insider:

Yesterday Time Warner Inc. — the owner of HBO — released its quarterly earnings.

During the earnings call, Tuna Amobi of S&P U.S. Equity Research Services asked CEO Jeff Bewkes what he thought of “Game of Thrones” being the most pirated show on television.

. . . .

Essentially, Bewkes goes so far as to say that internet piracy is downright awesome for HBO.

HBO grows by gaining subscribers, and it gains subscribers mostly by word of mouth. In the old days, that word of mouth included neighbors inviting neighbors over to enjoy their HBO subscription, or even cases of people stealing cable just to score HBO.

. . . .

Tuna Amobi: Game of Thrones has obviously had a phenomenal performance, but one other issue that has come up with regards to that title is the online piracy. I think by all accounts one of the highest pirated shows and I’m not aware what you guys have done to kind of address that. It seems that you have viewed it as kind of a compliment in terms of looking the other way so much. Is that the right way of thinking? Kind of a paradigm shift with the piracy and its impact on shows going forward that what you’ve done. 


Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes: To end on Game of Thrones on HBO, I have to confess I think you’re right. I have to admit, our first reaction to how much people want to watch it — now first of all it’s got ratings of 14, 15 million — a lot of it is VOD  on your TV system, an increasing amount of it is VOD on your [HBO]Go Service.

It’s just really strengthening not just the image, but the engagement of our subs [subscribers] with HBO programming, it’s also getting them familiar and more involved with using the video on demand capabilities of HBO and don’t forget, the television part. The part where you go to your house and you turn on that big screen TV watching it over the video plan, also the HBO Go service where Game of Thrones is the leading introduction manual for how to use HBO Go which more and more people are doing.

Then go to people watching it who aren’t subs, it’s a tremendous word of mouth thing, the issue would be if they were doing it and because they could get it not subscribing, we don’t see much of that.

Basically, we’ve been dealing with this issue for years with HBO, literally 20, 30 years, where people have always been running wires down on the back of apartment buildings and sharing with their neighbors.

Our experience is, it all leads to more penetration, more paying subs, more health for HBO, less reliance on having to do paid advertising — we don’t do a whole lot of paid advertising on HBO, we let the programming and the views talk for us — it seems to be working.

If you go around the world, I think you’re right, Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in the world. Well, you know, that’s better than an Emmy.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

Russia’s Ebook Market Nearly Doubles in 2012

3 July 2013

From Publishing Perspectives:

Despite the recent decline in reading in Russia and the stagnation of the local book market, interest in ebooks continues to grow, as demonstrated by the Knigabayt Ebook Expo recently held in Moscow. A recent infographic released by RBTH, indicates that 70% of Russia’s readers read ebooks, with 50% turning to ebooks in the last three years and 23% in the last year alone.

According to the Russian Association of Online Publishers, the Russian ebook market nearly doubled in 2012, reaching 250 million rubles (USD $8 million), up from 135 million rubles (USD 4.1 million) in 2011.

. . . .

According to Vladimir Kharitonov, the executive director of the Russian Association of Online Publishers, currently total number of ebook readers in Russia is estimated at 20-22 million people and is expected to significantly increase over the next several years.

. . . .

Unfortunately, piracy remains a serious problem. According to representatives of Eksmo, Russia’s largest publishing house, up to 95%% of all downloads of ebooks are pirate copies, something at results in the annual losses to the industry of 4 billion rubles (USD$120 million).

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

What You Need to Know about Book Piracy

20 May 2013

From Claire Ryan at The Raynfall Agency:

Okay, we all know about this. Piracy, the great and terrifying force that’s destroying authors’ means to make a living on one hand, and getting their work in front of thousands of new readers on the other. There’s plenty of conflicting information out there.

. . . .

1. Piracy is not something that can be stopped.

This is because of the limits of technology. Sorry, guys. It’s not possible to stop piracy completely through technological means. If there was a way to do it, the big media companies would have found it by now, seeing as they’ve spent the last ten plus years throwing millions of dollars at the problem.

Now, having said that, let me elaborate a little. It’s possible for you to prevent your work from being pirated if you never publish it and keep it on your hard drive or in your notebooks forever. I’m assuming, though, that you intend to actually publish your work, or you’re already published.

. . . .

2. Piracy can be reduced, however.

You can, in fact, cut the rate of piracy. You know what’s working for the big media companies, whether they like it or not?

Netflix, and iTunes.

Think about it. What do these things have in common? They make it really, really, REALLY easy for a user to access the content. Netflix is a monthly fee, all you can eat option; iTunes is a one-click buy. This is what you want to aim for, when you’re selling your books. Piracy takes time and effort that plenty of readers just don’t have, but they’ll do it if they feel they have to. If you want to sell your book and restrict it to the US, for example, you better accept that it’ll be pirated outside the US by fans who don’t want to wait around for their local release. If you make your book inconvenient to read for some users, say by adding DRM, then they’re likely to pirate it to get a copy that ‘just works’.

. . . .

6. People have lots of reasons for pirating.

It’s not always about the money. When it comes to ebooks, it’s really not about the money. Everyone can afford a few bucks for a book. The denizens of the Internet are used to getting their content instantly and conveniently, to the device of their choice, in the format of their choice. Take away some part of this, and they’ll resort to technical means to get it back.

Link to the rest at The Raynfall Agency

Simon & Schuster will give authors direct access to piracy data for their books

22 March 2013

From Paid Content:

Simon & Schuster will offer authors data on how and when their books are being pirated online, CEO Carolyn Reidy said Thursday.

Simon & Schuster, like many other publishers, works with a company called Attributor “to track and remove infringing copies of digital, audio and print titles published by Simon & Schuster from online sites.” Authors will now have access to Attributor’s data through the Simon & Schuster Author Portal, which also lets them track their book sales. Literary agents will have access to the data as well.

Link to the rest at Paid Content and thanks to L for the tip.

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