A Book Author Wonders How to Fight Piracy

The specter of piracy of my books materialized for me several weeks ago when I typed the four words “wayner data compression textbook” into Google. Five of the top ten links pointed to sites distributing pirated copies. (And now, it’s six.)

To add insult to injury, the top ten doesn’t include any page that actually sells my book, although they do point to several pages at Amazon and other sites that sell newer books by other authors. Other search strings do a better job and find the textbook’s page at Amazon.com.

The piracy of music and movies has been a challenge for the industry for many years now, but the book business seemed to avoid the problem. That is rapidly changing.

An article in Tuesday’s Times by Motoko Rich suggests that more and more people are discovering how easy it is to read e-books on new gadgets with high-resolution screens, such as the Amazon Kindle and various smartphones. Digital copies are no longer poor cousins to the nicely bound copies printed with jet-black ink on acid-free stock.

So what am I supposed to do?

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The torrent for the book is 4.3 gb. Kind of a bear to download. Even though this book is out there in pirated form it is not the easiest to get. Of course this book is going to be looked for by some programmer types so they are not going to be daunted by the technical hurdles.

Simple... You can't

The idea of fighting piracy makes just about as much sense as fighting entropy. Anytime you have something that people desire, there will be a market for copies of it. Doesn't matter what it is. You can get pirated movies and music online. Now pirated books are becoming more common, even though it's been easy to get them through Usenet for years. But more than that, you can tool around parts of China and find Honda motorcycles that were never made by Honda. You find Nike shoes that Nike doesn't even know about. Sometimes they'll change the name to be clever (Wanna buy an ePod? How's about a mPod? Perhaps you prefer Pmua shoes to Pumas?). Most of the time they won't bother.

The point is that piracy isn't just digital and never has been. Counterfeit goods have been around since people started making things and stamping brands on them.

As long as you have a market for goods, you'll have a market for piracy. You can fight it all you want, but I think it'd be better to spend money on R&D and doing something productive instead.

Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) @ Penny Arcade

Weeds

>The idea of fighting piracy makes just about as much sense as fighting entropy.

Having a world with no pirated books, movies, music, etc... is not going to happen. But piracy is fought all the time and the fight keeps pirated items to the darker corners of the internet.

Fighting piracy is like weeding a garden. You may never get all the weeds but you can keep some general control so the garden is not overrun.

After Napster was taken down (weeding) you could still find free music if you used the other P2P systems. The problem is that these came with spyware and other issues. Some people still use them but many people avoid them because the problems they create are not worth it. This is especially true now that there is iTunes and Amazon where you can buy songs for a reasonable price.

The weeding keeps the pirated materials moving around. If not for the weeding why not just open a website piratedstuff.com and start loading movies, music, software, and books. You won't do it because you know that you will be sued and your site will be shut down.

There was a mention of weeding in the article on Tuesday: John Wiley & Sons, a textbook publisher that also issues the “Dummies” series, employs three full-time staff members to trawl for unauthorized copies. Gary M. Rinck, general counsel, said that in the last month, the company had sent notices on more than 5,000 titles — five times more than a year ago — asking various sites to take down digital versions of Wiley’s books.

John Wiley & Sons may not be able to get all the pirated copies but they can try to keep control of their garden.

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