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A novel solution to book piracy

02 June 2009


As ebooks become a larger part of the book industry, publishers and authors could face the same challenges from piracy that record labels and musicians have over the last ten years.

A piece in the Bookseller last week said that the Publishers' Association had identified 800 illegally uploaded works and removed 90% of them using a new anti-piracy tool.

What caught my eye about the story was the suggestion that publishers might adopt similar spoofing tactics to those used by the music industry, where fake copies of a work are uploaded by the copyright owner to confuse the pirates.

The commitment that people make to a song is minimal compared to the commitment made to a book. If you're playing a song and it turns out to be a lecture about how you should be buying it instead, you could just click 'stop'. How annoying would it be if you were 200 pages in to a pirated copy of some romantic fiction novel, when a bunch of pirates swing in on ropes yelping like Tarzan and just start killing everyone? (er... in the book, obviously). I can see a lot of creative opportunities for authors who work with publishers to create spoofed versions of their works...

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Comments

Except pirates are creative and will work around this.

Film distributors tried a similar approach, seeding the filesharing networks with files purporting to be some film or other, but being broken in some way.

But people just find a reliable source and stick to it. Filesharing sites have user feedback mechanisms. The problem publishers have is that pirates seem to be able to innovate faster than them.
 
I could see the spoofed versions becoming more popular than the originals. Wouldn't that be crazy?
 
Thank you both for your comments - the pirates have been one step ahead of the game, but anti-piracy campaigns do at least make piracy hard enough to deter the casual pirate, and also start a discussion so that people can understand the damage that piracy does to creative industries.

I can imagine someone being thrown by a download of 'From Dusk Til Dawn'. "Eh? Where did the real second half go?"
 
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