Publishers Fight the Wrong Intellectual Property Battles


CindyO writes "Here's an interesting article from the Book Standard, which points out that piracy overseas is a HUGE business. So why do American publishers ignore this fact, yet refuse to sell their books to US libraries in electronic versions for fear of piracy (no, you cannot buy a Random House title in ebook format if you're a library), scream about Google's digitization project, and at the same time blithely outsource their production to places like India where, as the article says, the day shift produces books for the US, the night shift pirates them, and as an earlier LISNews article pointed out, Indians devour them?"


My first guess would be because much like the prescription drugs issue Americans are in a position to pay the premium where a lot of other countries aren't. That makes us the easier mark.

"...U.S. publishers are providing the source material to intellectual-property thieves, says Frank Romano, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Print Media."

Seriously this is EXACTLY what happened with golf clubs about 5 years ago. A few other countries like golf, but by and large, most of the business is in the USA, so therefore all the clubs were made here. Then someone realized that since its just a hunk of metal, and foundaries in China are much cheaper, they just signed some contracts and sent the molds to China.

So what happened? Well after making a set of $1200 Calloway iron heads, the Chinese factory takes the mold, deletes the logo, change something slightly and starts making identical club heads that wholesale for about $30 a set. The US club companies call these clubs 'counterfit' and in many cases the companies that import them have been sued. Part of this might be the Chinese don't see this as bad - they did what they were contracted to do, and they had these molds just sitting around so they just kept using them. Attitudes toward 'intellectual property' and 'piracy' vary all over the world, and I'm not an expert on China, but this is my assumption.

The golf club manufacturers that used to produce their own clubs admit that they could eliminate counterfiting if they simply kept their manufacturing process in the USA, but EVEN WITH THE PIRACY its more profitable to do business this way. They could even stop sending their molds to the foundaries that counterfit their clubs, but they don't, because those are the ones that are the best at making golf clubs (I wonder why...)

To answer your question Blake, American publishers ignore this fact because their costs are so much lower now they are making more profit, even with piracy. They made a business decision to do business with people they consider 'pirates'.

I found the golf club article I read. I think this is the answer to Blake's question.

"Why, then, do all those U.S. clubmakers continue to use Chinese foundries, the track records of which in protecting intellectual-property rights are so horrendous? "If we didn't, your $400 driver would cost $1,000," says Barney Adams. "Making a golf club is still very labor intensive. We understand the risks of doing business over there. We do the best we can to minimize them, and we move on.""

This is true for a wide variety of overseas outsourced productions of American brand name products. Somewhere I have a digital photo of some "counterfeit" designer jeans, where the process went slightly awry. Instead of having "Lucky" or "Miss Sixty" or "7 For All Mankind" on the belt label, it has some Visual Basic instruction that were supposed to load up the intended Brand marking.