1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Pirated digital books

    Discussion in 'Electronic Publishing' started by GingerCoffee, Jun 28, 2015.

    Stephen Witt: How Music Got Free and why writers should care.
    So I'm watching Witt on Book TV and he mentions the same piracy is befalling the digital book publishing world.

    Ebook piracy

    If you care about ever making money as an author, it's depressing. If what you want is recognition, there may be benefits.
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    As far as I know, many downloads are shadow losses; meaning their was never an intention to purchase so even if unavailable, the downloader would never have bought it.
    So, financially, it may not be such a big hit.
     
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  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Or if what you want is that people read what you write.

    Now I am off to find a pirated copy of How Music Got Free, if for no other reason than to enjoy the irony.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I am curious as to what you find. In the talk about the book, Witt said his book was pirated. But I was unable to find it with a quick Google search.
     
  5. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Books, especially the less popular ones, are difficult to find sometimes.
    There are special chan boards dedicated to sharing books which don't turn up on search engines.
     
  6. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    For the most part this is largely jumping at shadows. While it does have a certain effect on book sales, there is virtually nothing that can be done about it. All the money in the world hasn't produced any DRM software for games that won't be hacked in due time, and these are complicated pieces of software that have significantly more opportunity to stop people from running it. Books are words on a page; they are trivial to copy and reproduce in a completely different file type. Even physical books can be parsed by text recognition software and complied as a PDF. Stopping this is like stopping people in the past from simply recording songs off of the radio.

    Edit: And besides, there are and likely always will be people who only read physical books. I'm a tech guy who spends most of my time in front of a computer screen, and will read text-books in digital form, but if it's fiction then it has to be physical. There is no other way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
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  7. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I found it on a file sharing site. I will PM you the link if you are interested, since I think we are not supposed to post links to copyright infringing material here.
     
  8. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I literally found it in under 30 seconds.
     
  9. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    As far as I'm aware, all major ebook DRM schemes have been completely cracked, so it only annoys honest readers and locks them into buying from a single retailer since they can't easily transfer ebooks from one device/app to another. This hasn't stopped writers making money, because many of us would rather pay $3.99 for an ebook on Amazon than go through the hassle of finding a pirate site and copying the files to the Kindle.

    Trade-published ebooks at $12.99, on the other hand... I'll borrow them from the library, or get a used paperback for $0.99 instead.
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    That's nice. I don't search shared files sites.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    No thanks, I heard Witt on the Book TV author's hour. I don't plan to read the book but thanks for offering and yes, you are right not to share the link publicly.
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm an unapologetic avid library user. I've always considered that to be legitimate sharing as opposed to piracy. Perhaps I'm hypocritical?
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I think so. I've never liked the library copout. Sure, it's good to have information available free for educational purposes, but I don't think libraries should have fiction that isn't pub domain, for obvious reasons. The same goes for second-hand bookstores. It actually violates copyright laws (...this book is sold to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be re-sold, lent, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent...) and yet nothing is done. It's actually socially acceptable. Weird.
     
  14. Void
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    I've never even thought about that until now, but since you've mentioned it that does sound legally questionable. Strange ...
     
  15. sprirj
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    Revolt against charity shops! :)
     
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  16. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Most are not charity shops. Most are businesses.
     
  17. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Revolt against some charity shops, and some businesses!
     
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  18. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    The statement you quoted goes on ' . . . in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published'. It's very specific. Sometimes, publishers will ask bookshops to return unsold books, but to save on postage, ask for the covers to be removed and only the covers returned, making the rest of the book unsalable under the clause.
     
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  19. Gawler
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    That is true if you apply the letter of the law, which unfortunately is all that most people go by now. The spirit in which the law is written has become a forgotten concept. Largely because it is vague in its interpretation.
     
  20. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Not in this book, but I found that in another one.
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the country, authors may get payments for library loans. I can never keep it straight which countries have that system - I think the US doesn't, I know Canada does, I think the UK does?

    In terms of piracy - I think the fact that we can't do anything about it actually makes it MORE worrisome, not less. DRM doesn't work, it's like playing whack-a-mole sending take-down notices to pirate sites, so, yes, in terms of individual books, the only way to stay sane is to not think about it. But in terms of the health of the publishing industry? I think it's a serious concern. Musicians can still make money from live shows and other promotional material, but authors don't generally have the same options in that direction.

    And, honestly, the fact that people are joking about sharing book files here on a writers' site is pretty appalling. It's like people living in a glass house tossing a rock back and forth between them...
     
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  22. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    Many musical artists and songwriters are doing very well indeed from iTunes and similar sites, so 'piracy' hasn't destroyed that business. It doesn't matter, anyway, since the genie is out of the bottle, and, as you said, DRM doesn't work. Fiction writing has always (in my experience) been a world where a few people make a ton of money, and most others make little to none (kind of like the music business). Self-publishing, an offshoot of the technological advances that made 'piracy' possible, should help to even things out, once we figure out the promotion angle.

    I'll wait for @Steerpike to get up and around this morning, but I think that the First Sale doctrine should protect second-hand stores from being dinged for selling used books, and if it doesn't, it should. The idea that you aren't allowed to sell something you legally own is indefensible.

    I have a lot of public-domain stuff on my Nook, and some free books from B&N, but I'll admit to a few purloined titles, including a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird I found on the website of a middle school in Nebraska.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2015
  23. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't understand the "it doesn't matter" idea. If a comet is headed toward the Earth and we can't stop it, does the comet not matter?

    Now, piracy doesn't really amount to a planet-destroying comet, but I think it is having an effect on the publishing industry. If one is a dedicated self-pubber and isn't too worried about making money, then, no, I guess piracy wouldn't matter to that person. But I'd like there to be a healthy, profitable publishing industry well into the future, so piracy concerns me.

    My understanding is that while the music industry hasn't been "destroyed", it's taken a serious hit. See, for example: https://www.riaa.com/keystatistics.php?content_selector=research-report-journal-academic. And again, in music, there is a lot of income coming from touring, not from music sales. As mentioned at http://theconversation.com/how-piracy-is-changing-the-music-industry-landscape-31919, Madonna makes 95% of her income from touring, and U2 is giving away albums for free because sales are not a significant part of their income. I don't think any authors are making 95% of their income from public readings.

    Do you have numbers to support the idea that artists and songwriters are doing well on iTunes?
     
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  24. Stacy C
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    Stacy C Banned

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    Sorry, no. I don't do the 'dueling links' thing in Internet forums. I guess my point was that the music industry is still with us, and always will be, despite the fact that some musicians are making less money than before or making it in different ways.

    The 'it doesn't matter' idea is about that fact that, as I said, the genie is out of the bottle. No DRM scheme or copyright law is going to stop people from downloading content of any kind which they haven't paid for, if that downloading is technologically feasible. Our efforts would be better spent looking for new methods of distribution or sales venues, rather than standing on the tracks, holding our hands up to stop the speeding freight train. That ship has sailed, to further mix metaphors :) .

    Food for thought (sorry, I lost the author's name, but I'm sure he won't mind):

    "Some industries have already made this transition. Wedding photographers used to shoot weddings for a minimal fee, the charged a large amount for prints and reprints. If you wanted extra copies of your wedding photos for your extended family, you had to pay for the extra prints.

    With the advent of scanners and dirt-cheap photo printers, they've transitioned to a model where they charge a lot for shooting the wedding, but charge little for the prints or even give them away for free. Technically they can charge for the prints as they did before, but realistically they know it's so easy to make copies there's no possible way they'd be able to enforce their copyright for every photo the take. So they've just restructured their payment system to reflect reality, rather than copyright laws.

    Forget for a moment everything about copyright, publishing, movie/music production, etc. Think of this purely in terms of work vs. compensation. I shoot photos of a wedding and process the photos. That's a lot of work. I print pictures of said wedding. That's very little work. Under the old model, the payment system did not reflect my costs - I charged very little for the part which required a lot of work on my part, but charged a lot for the part which required almost no effort. The new system fixes this. I now charge a lot for the part which requires a lot of work, and charge little for the part which requires little work.

    The same thing has got to happen to books, music, and movies. In the old days, musicians and actors were paid for live performances. That is the norm.

    In the 20th century there was a bit less than 100 years where technology was good enough to allow mass duplication, but not good enough to lower cost of duplication to the point where individuals could duplicate. This allowed a business model to flourish in which payment did not reflect costs. Musicians and actors were able to work once, then sit back and make money over and over based on that single performance. This is not normal. No other business is like that - you have to constantly work if you want to keep making money.

    Now in the 21st century, the cost of mass duplication has fallen far enough that it's now easily within grasp of the individual. No longer does it make sense for people to be charged large amounts of money for what is a nearly free service (duplication). People may be stuck on the morality of it because the 20th century way is all they've ever known. But strictly in terms of work invested vs. compensation, the 20th century way was clearly wrong since the most money was being made for the step which cost the least money.

    The transition to a model where content creators are not paid for duplication services is not some new journey into unexplored territory. It is a return to what was the norm for millenia. For most of history, duplication was impossible (performances) or nearly impossible (books), so the only way to get paid was for the actual content creation. During the 20th century, duplication became possible, and content creators leveraged it to get paid multiple times over for the same work. Now in the 21st century duplication has become so cheap that people are starting to question if it's really fair for content creators to be paid multiple times for the same job. That is the true crux of the matter, not who owns the work or whether copying is stealing.

    I do believe in copyright - the temporary monopoly does encourage creation. But the terms have to be reasonable. With duplication costs having dropped to almost zero, preventing society from making copies simply because of archaic laws does more harm than good. Something like 10-20 years for copyright seems about right to me. Copyright is fundamentally about encouraging creativity and creation of new content. A copyright term of life + 70 years discourages creativity, and instead encourages trying to figure out how to create something new once and live off it for the rest of your life."
     
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  25. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You avoid "dueling links" by not providing links, just copying and pasting the entire text without attribution? Interesting approach.

    Anyway - what do you suggest as the alternate approach to being paid for written work? I don't think it makes sense to go back to the pre-technological age as a model, because we no longer live in a pre-technological age. Nobody's going to pay a wandering bard to go from home to home, reciting epic tales. Not as more than a novelty. So what are the other options we should be exploring?

    One of the things I try to do is resist the normalization of piracy. Thirty years ago it was considered totally fine to smoke in public places and lots of people drove drunk. Today, nobody smokes in public places, nobody would light up in someone else's house without express permission, and driving drunk is not only illegal but socially unacceptable. Some of these changes came because of laws, but some of them came because we de-normalized the behaviour. If we can do something similar with piracy, making it not only illegal but also socially unacceptable, I think it might help. I certainly don't think it would hurt.
     

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