November 24, 2009

British publishers develop secret weapon against piracy


Oh, the joys of comparing the book business to the music business: “Digital pirates, who for years have tormented the music and film industries, have found a new source of plunder in e-book publishing,” says Mike Harvey in a Times of London story. It’s the Kindle‘s fault, he says — because “as consumers get used to reading digital books they will look for a free download rather than pay.”

Want proof? “In the US, where the Kindle has been available for two years, digital book piracy is booming … American publishers are estimated to have lost more than $600 million (£363 million) last year to piracy.” And it’s going to get worse, he surmises, with all the new e-reader-gadgets going down this holiday season. And then there’s the Apple Tablet ….

But British publishers, says Harvey, have come up with a winning strategy: “The Publishers Association has released a web tool that allows publishers to log the details of an infringement of copyright. It then sends a demand to the offending website for the link to be removed. The portal has been alerted to more than 4,000 cases of online piracy by more than 40 publishers and has succeeded in taking down 2,638 illegal copies of books.”

That’s it for details on the “web tool,” though.

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.