Tuesday, 31 May 2011

'Ahoy!' and 'Aye aye captain!'... on digital piracy

I've recently read an article "E-books drive older women to digital piracy" on The Telegraph. It presents interesting findings about how with e-readers becoming more and more popular and their sale growing, more and more e-books are being downloaded illegally. The interesting part being that digital piracy is often associated with young people downloading music, films, games, etc. from the net since they can either not afford the price of a DVD or CD, or they don't want to wait for official publication. E-readers are more seen as a plaything of a bit more mature generation, who definitely can afford investing in a book, whether it's a printed or an electronic version thereof. Still, survey (conducted by the law firm Wiggin within Digital Entertainment Survey 2011, annual assessment of consumer behaviour online) shows that 1 in 8 women over 35 who bought an e-reader admits to having downloaded an unlicensed e-book (compared to 1 in 20 women in this age category who admit to having downloaded music illegally). One might wonder whether this new trend will 'encourage' more people to digital piracy of all sorts (after all, if you downloaded a book without a license, you might as well get a movie the next time you are online, too...). On the other hand, this new data might just signify to people caring less about whether a book has a license or not being aware that a book should have a license online, and will not influence behaviour as far as other online transactions are concerned (ca 29% of e-reader owners and ca 36% of tablet owners admits to piracy). This remains yet to be seen. However, the news for the publishing industry are definitely worrying since we are talking here about a significant trend (and at least 25% of those who admitted to e-piracy stated they'd continue).

Is this new trend REALLY worrying though? Interestingly, last week I've also stumbled upon a fascinating read that concerns the other side of the coin of the same issue. In an article "Naughty bedtime book shifts focus on privacy" at The Age website a fate of a best-selling book is described. A book that will not be published until June 14, but which has already been leaked online in its PDF-file version and was emailed to most computer users in Australia. We are talking here about a fascinating book: "Go the F... to Sleep" - profane children's book written for suffering moms and dads who struggle with putting their children to bed night by night. The interesting thing is that the digital piracy in this case might have contributed to the success of the book. It is easy to spread a word about this book online and to tell all your friends (and Facebook friends) about it. Since the book is apparently hilarious, it's rather doubtful that its availability online will stop people from purchasing it (also as an ironic gift for young parents - 'look what you'll have to go through'). Leaking of this book online in this case was simply a brilliant PR move.

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