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Attributor’s Flawed Piracy Study

Battle Woodstock

Publishers Weekly posted an article talking about a book piracy study released today by the Attributor.  PW article is here; their link to the original article wasn’t working.  My thanks to Rich at Attributor, who contacted me with a link to their study results, including methodology, here.

From PW:

Publishers could be losing out on as much as $3 billion to online book piracy, a new report released today by Attributor estimates. Attributor, whose FairShare Guardian service monitors the Web for illegally posted content, tracked 913 books in 14 subjects in the final quarter of 2009 and estimated that more than 9 million copies of books were illegally downloaded from the 25 sites it tracked.

Anyone seeing any possible problems here?  Here are two that jumped out at me right off the bat.

  1. The $3 billion figure assumes that everyone who downloaded an illegal copy of the book would have otherwise gone out and purchased a legal copy.
  2. Attributor is a company specializing in anti-piracy solutions.  Hardly an objective or trustworthy source, in this case.

Please don’t take this as approval of illegal file-sharing.  I’ve made some stories available for free over on my web site (left sidebar), so I’m all for sharing some free fiction.  But when you upload a copy of one of my books to a file sharing site, you’re being a dick.  (Downloading a copy?  Lesser dick.)  If you don’t want to pay $7.99, no problem.  Go to a used bookstore.  Go to your local library.

That said, I don’t think piracy is the end of the world.  I just wish we could get more trustworthy data & discussion, and less dogma.

::Takes a deep breath::  So please feel free to talk piracy and file-sharing, but be aware that over-the-top extremism may be heavily mocked, regardless of what side it’s coming from.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Comments

cat_mcdougall
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
There are places in the US (Unfortunately) where there is a Great deal of hassle when getting to the library. Usually it's lack of transportation - especially in heavily rural areas - and no way to mail order books through their local libraries.

Those are for sighted people, with no disabilities. We won't get into needing audio books, or large print books. That's also assuming that the library even has any selection at all, and hasn't been closed because of budget cuts, staffing cuts, and everything else with the economy so horrible.

I'm not defending piracy. Merely pointing out why someone might not have the options of libraries.
jimhines
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:45 pm (UTC)
Understood. But I'd like to hear the anonymous poster's explanation. I'm okay with argumentative anonymous comments (and I recognize that aspects of my original post are also argumentative), but I don't have a lot of patience with them.

Books for the blind is a whole other issue. I know there are laws allowing the creation of audio books for the blind, but in practice ... I agree that's a problem, and I wish I had a solution for it. (Aside from e-mailing plain text copies of my book to my friend so her computer can read them to her.)
cat_mcdougall
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
It's okay. I was just butting in with my two cents, since I've lived in a place where getting to the library was really hard, and bookmobile/mail order just wasn't an option.

Although, this post has made me realise I need to get off my butt and go register at my local library tonight for me and the kids. ;)
jimhines
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
No, it's a good and valid point. I'm still tired enough to have little patience with anonymous comments today, though :-)

I actually live less than a mile from our library, and it amazes me how little I use it. It's habit more than anything else. When I do remember and head over, it's like being in a candy store, only the candy is ALL FREE!!!

My children use it much more than I do. They go to story time with their grandparents, as well as some of the events the library puts on for kids. It's a wonderful resource.
sixteenbynine
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
My local library is within walking distance, has DVDs and Blu-ray (!), is wonderfully stocked, is part of a large and well-maintained library circuit, and I use it to death! :D
jabberwockpie
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:34 pm (UTC)
Books for the blind is a whole other issue. I know there are laws allowing the creation of audio books for the blind, but in practice ... I agree that's a problem, and I wish I had a solution for it. (Aside from e-mailing plain text copies of my book to my friend so her computer can read them to her.)
My grandpa has been blind since he was 18 (60-some years) and gets books from the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and I think I'd go absolutely crazy if I had to rely on their selection for reading. I'm glad the service is available, and our local branch is really helpful, but the selection could be a lot better.

There have been several times that I or my Mom have loved a book, thought he'd like it, and been unable to get it for him because it wasn't available or could only be found in abridged format on commercial CDs. (Or not at all.)

I pirated Harry Potter 6 for him because the local library's copy on CD was so scratched up that it was almost unreadable. (Of course between the rest of us we had three copies of the book on paper, so I'm not sure that's a lost sale since he can't read the paper version anyway. I mean if he could, I'd have just loaned him mine.) Possibly me being a bit of a dick, but he really liked Harry Potter. But I also recognize that MOST people pirating aren't doing so because of that. It strikes me as kind of wrong how some audio books run like five times the price of a regular book, but I know there are more production costs and fewer people buying them and stuff, it's just a personal bias thing because he really can't read stuff otherwise.

Your books, for example, aren't on the Talking Books catalog, but I don't think my grandpa's a goblin or princess person anyway.

Wow, nice TL;DR, me.
jimhines
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
No, that's not something I'd categorize in the dick category, regardless of whether you'd purchased the books. The only comment I'd have is that hopefully the library bought another set of the CDs.

I really wish my books were on the Talking Books catalog. I don't know if it's just that they haven't shown up on their radar or what.
jabberwockpie
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure how one gets on their radar, but then they seem to have some really odd procedures sometimes. There was some EPIC FANTASY SERIES or other several years ago where they had like, books #2-#4 but not the first book. At all. Wasn't in the catalog. It was strange.

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