CNN's Take On 'Book Piracy'

from the where's-the-analysis dept

paperbag was the first of a whole bunch of you to send in CNN's article on 'book piracy.' To be honest, there was so little substance in the article that I didn't see much of a reason to post it -- but since people keep submitting it, it seems that quite a few of you are hoping to discuss it. A lot of folks pointed out Sherman Alexie's comments complaining about "piracy," but those quotes were taken verbatim from his appearance on The Colbert Report, which we already discussed.

To be honest, what disappointed me with CNN's article is that it didn't challenge any of the obviously bogus statements made in the article. We already covered the problems with Alexie's, but CNN also notes: "J.K Rowling has thus far refused to make any of her Harry Potter books available digitally because of piracy fears." Of course, that assumes that it's the official digital version that gets copied. While I haven't checked, I would be stunned to find out that all of Ms. Rowling's work is not already widely available via file sharing sites. Her deciding not to offer up an ebook copy didn't stop piracy. In fact, it probably encouraged it, because those who want a digital copy now only have the option of using an unauthorized copy. The article also implies (though doesn't state directly) that Apple iTunes has "solved" the piracy issue in music. Oddly, however, it doesn't note that, unlike the music industry, at least the ebook industry is starting out with at least some legal marketplace for books. The music industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get there.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    faceless (profile), Jan 4th, 2010 @ 11:45pm

    you're right, it's terribly easy to pirate the harry potter books, all it takes is a quick google search for tons of hits. and that's the only option for people who want the digital version.

     

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  2.  
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    TFP, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 12:46am

    wtf

    A hack has written the same story 5 or so times, takes fans to court and is a British millionaire 5 times over (uncertified internet source), is worried about her books being pirated (they have by the way) - I'd posit she's more worried by the adage that 'you can never have enough', which is fair enough, but at least be honest about it.

     

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  3.  
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    TW Burger (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 12:51am

    Stating the Obvious

    Markets create themselves.

     

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  4.  
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    kyle clements (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 1:02am

    *ugh* Damn Luddites!
    I wish I could "sudo apt-get update" their brains, so they would at least be aware of what parts of their personal body of knowledge are out of date.

     

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  5.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 1:08am

    To be honest, what disappointed me with CNN's article is that it didn't challenge any of the obviously bogus statements made in the article. We already covered the problems with Alexie's, but CNN also notes: "J.K Rowling has thus far refused to make any of her Harry Potter books available digitally because of piracy fears."

    Mike, is it not true that Ms Rowling has refused to allow digital versions of her books? Is it not true that she is concerned about piracy?

    There is no false statement, just perhaps her ignorance of what dedicated "fans" will do.

     

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  6.  
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    The Anti-Anti-Mike, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 1:15am

    Putting "fans" in quotes doesn't make them less of a fan. They want to read the books!

    A 2 second search for e-books gives me:

    http://thepiratebay.org/search/harry%20potter/0/99/600

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    PapaFox, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 1:18am

    J. K. Rowling and piracy

    The decision by J. K. Rowling not to release digital editions of her books certainly did not prevent them from being pirated - in fact it encouraged it. All her later books were pirated withing hours of their release. Teams of fans organised to scan a chapter each, with a first draft scan being available within an hour or so the book becoming available. Final proof-read versions were available several days later.

    So what was the result - Rowlings books stil sold very well. People who used the pirated book fell into three categories (a) Fans who bought physical books, and used the pirate digital edition for a book reader; (b) Dead beats who read the pirate digital edition, but had no intention of buying a physical book; (c) People who read the digital pirate edition and then went on to buy a Rowling physical book (either the same or a different title). None of these categories result in decreased sales, and with (c) there are some increased sales with the digital pirate edition acting as a free sample.

    Rowling would be the first to point out that I have omitted a category (d) - People who intended to buy a physical book but having a pirate digital version caused them not to purchase. The classic 'lost sale' argument. The available evidence suggests either this group is very small, or that the increased sales due to "free samples" (category c) heavily outweighs the losses.

    The books sales of J. K. Rowling

     

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  8.  
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    cc, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 2:41am

    Re:

    I think "sudo apt-get remove" would be better.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    cc, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 2:45am

    Re:

    If it's a prohibition and I like whiskey, I visit my local bootlegger.

    If it's a prohibition and I like Harry Potter, I visit my local bootlegger.

    It's as simple as that. The black market serves the people when the legal markets are too stupid or for whatever other reason unable to help.

     

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  10.  
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    cc, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 2:48am

    Re:

    I think this is what he meant: http://tinyurl.com/ltnpuf

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    :), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 3:07am

    The Comments.

    What I like about the CNN article is the comments bellow it LoL

    The article in itself is self serving and not accurate and make big assumptions and I see nothing of value but in the comments the battle raging on is funny.

     

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  12.  
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    paperbag (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 4:10am

    I agree with ':)' the comments below it are funny. :) err :P

     

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  13.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 4:31am

    Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    "- People who intended to buy a physical book but having a pirate digital version caused them not to purchase."

    Well in her case I think the category could be quite large - because of all the people who realised how badly written the later books are and gave up on them.

    So I can understand why she might be more worried than other authors.

     

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  14.  
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    Vincent Clement, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 5:45am

    Re:

    Really? That is all you could come up with? Weak. Yawn.

     

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  15.  
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    Call me Al, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 6:13am

    Re: wtf

    I understand she is actually a dollar billionaire, the first female author to become so. She is clearly not short on money and I like to think (from interviews etc) that she is not the kind of person to be that obsessed with it.

    However she is certainly someone who is very possessive about her creation, which as the author is understandable. This possessiveness has been shown by her treatment of the guy who did the unofficial Potter encyclopedia.

    Perhaps the more important factor to consider with the attitude to no e-books are the publishers themselves. They are going concerns who need to keep earning money to exist, unlike JK who could live off the interest for a thousand years. They will be the ones most concerned about internet piracy and chances are they have made the typical kneejerk reaction of so many other companies and immediately assumed all piracy is damaging and evil.

    It is a lot easier for the media to report "JK Rowling refuses to allow publishing of books at e-books" then it is to report "Bloomsbury publishers have refused to allow the publishing of the Harry Potter books authored by JK Rowling in an e-book format". Especially as I think there are different publishers for the book in each major country.

     

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  16.  
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    Mike Wallace (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 6:13am

    Book Piracy

    I think J.K. Rowling and most authors are not aware of the fact books have been the original pirated media for the past 600 years. People buy physical books and pass them along to friends who pass them along to friends. Ebooks have only created a sub-market. Now we have readers who want the physical book and readers who prefer ebooks.

     

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  17.  
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    MCR, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 6:16am

    Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    One other category, which generally applies to me, is to download the pirated copy and wait for the paperback. I have not intention of buying a hardback (way too expensive), but the publishers have their windows just like movie studios. However, I do like to have a physical copy of the book.

    While it's not technically a lost sale, publishers would definitely count it as one.

     

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  18.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: Book Piracy

    Mike, a book that is passed from user to user isn't really pirated, because there is no duplication. Ebooks (and all piracy) create new copies where none existed. Your book example is just resale, with a zero price.

     

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  19.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re:

    'sudo apt-get install brains' would be more helpful. You can't remove what wasn't there to begin with.

     

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  20.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Re:

    I wish I could "sudo apt-get update" their brains, so they would at least be aware of what parts of their personal body of knowledge are out of date.

    don't forget to "sudo apt-get upgrade" afterward :-)

     

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  21.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Book Piracy

    Who here has never made a photocopy of books for school book-reports while in the library? I know I have. For a few quarters I had a copy of the cliff notes for instance, and in some cases even entire sections of books.
    In The Netherlands you have to pay a blanket fee for the use of the photocopier, so you could argue "That's not piracy", but I did sometimes make a duplication without prior approval of the author.

     

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  22.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    more like this:
    http://thepiratebay.org/search/harry%20potter/0/7/600

    always sort your results by the number of seeders seeders. your downloads will be faster, and you are more likely to get a quality release. piracy is a meritocracy. the good stuff gets seeded and lasts while the bad stuff dies on the vine.

     

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  23.  
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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Specifically, I read an article a couple of years back which talked about a group of German English speakers who translated and made available online the then-latest Harry Potter book within 48 hours or so of it hitting the US market. The article I read actually talked about how incredibly organized the translators were with "managers" of sorts assigned to every chapter to collate and edit the translations by participants, multiple review, specific participants being assigned the translation of invented words etc... Supposedly, after the 48 hours translation was done, they initiated a second project to do a much better translation with every page being translated by 3 people at least. Now officially, the project only distributed the result to its members, but I seriously doubt that it ended up being the case.
    Here is the article in french

    Supposedly, the German publisher who was originally quite unhappy with the project but then changed his mind (after the group agreed not to distribute outside of itself) for unstated reasons. I think though that he should have gone further and just published the crowed-sourced translation. I mean, I don't know about the editorial process for book translations, but I doubt that they have more review and a greater attention to detail than fanatical readers...

     

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  24.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    "Who here has never made a photocopy of books for school book-reports while in the library?"

    I haven't. I have, however, made photocopies of (sometimes large) sections of books for such purposes -- however that's legally allowed and so isn't technically piracy.

     

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  25.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Nah, then you have to worry about zombie processes all the time.

     

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  26.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re:

    and then 'sudo apt-get autoremove', to clear out that old clutter. :)

     

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  27.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:38am

    Re: Book Piracy

    I think J.K. Rowling and most authors are not aware of the fact books have been the original pirated media for the past 600 years. People buy physical books and pass them along to friends who pass them along to friends. Ebooks have only created a sub-market.

    pirated books have been around since the gutenberg press. history is full of examples of underground presses printing unauthorized copies of books for sale, especially controversial books, or books banned by the local monarchy or government.

     

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  28.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re:

    Isn't that the first thing you learn about bit torrent? Someone should write a book.

    Hmm.. I wonder how long a 'Pirating for Dummies' book would last before the recording/movie/software industry killed it. :)

     

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  29.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    How many times have you wanted to buy the paperback, but never got around to it when it finally came out?

    That *is* a lost sale.

     

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  30.  
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    Trails, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 7:57am

    Yup

     

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  31.  
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    Dementia (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Book Piracy

    You are correct that no copy has been created, but think of all the lost sales. Why, if that book goes through 10 or 12 people, I bet they lost hundreds of dollars in sales, and that's just one book. The HORROR!!!! /S

     

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  32.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    You are confusing issues, but you actual lead to the important point:

    Plenty of "sharing" was tolerated in the past because of how slow that sharing was.

    Example: You get a book, it takes you a couple of weeks to read it (spare time). A couple of weeks later you give it to a friend, who gets around to reading it a few months later, and then maybe passes it on to someone else. Even on a strict 2 week schedule, that book only gets 26 readers a year.

    Now, take a digital copy of the book and put it online, and within a day, millions of people could have it, and maybe a month from now tens of millions of people could have read the book for free.

    See the issue of scale?

    It's the same as the good old "mix tape" situation. When recording was done real time, a 90 minute mix tape might take all day to make, and copies of the copy were of lower quality. Thus, even a dedicated mix tape make might only squeeze out a few tapes a week, not really a big deal. But with digital music, a single downloader can pretty much get every piece of newly released music on a weekly basis, and share that music with millions of other people.

    Scale.

    Nobody gives a crap out the onesies and twosies lost sales, those aren't even rounding errors. Widescale online piracy is millions of potential sales blown out the window. It's why copyright holders are agressively attemmpting to shut down some of the "fair use" loopholes, as they are being abused as source material for piracy.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    You know need to come and clean the coffee from my monitor! That's the best comment I've read in a LONG time.
    Bravo!!

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    Hint: If your business model can be "destroyed" by one person with a computer sitting at home, you need a new business model.

     

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  35.  
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    MCR, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Re: Re: Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    Actually, never. The only books I download are ones that I'm really waiting for, and would have bought the paperback immediately if it didn't come out over a year later.

    I can honestly say the publishing industry has zero lost sales because of my "piracy".

     

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  36.  
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    Derek Reed, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    "How many times have you wanted to buy the paperback, but never got around to it when it finally came out?"

    Hey - I've done that. No e-book reader or piracy involved, just the windowing alone caused the lost sale. Good point.

     

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  37.  
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    SomeGuy (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    Mike's disappointment was that CNN didn't challenge anything. The present the fact that Rowling hasn't offered her book digitally, but they failed to point out (as Mike notes) that this is an empty and futile gesture. Not-offering her books online hasn't stopped piracy, as Rowling would wish and CNN implies, but instead people who want a digital copy of Rowling's work are forced to not-pay her. Rowling has ensured that there is no way to obtain a digital HP book EXCEPT through piracy -- thus encouraging that which she fears.

    The "problem" with the statement on Rowling isn't that it's simply false, but rather that it implies a falsehood (namely, that not-offering a digital copy has stopped piracy).

     

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  38.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: wtf

    """
    However she is certainly someone who is very possessive about her creation, which as the author is understandable.
    """

    No, it is not very understandable considering that she built "her" creation around the creations of many many others. Please to look up "The Books of Magic", wherein a young british boy is indoctrinated into a world of magic and spells, oh and he has a white owl as a familiar. These books (and other similar works) were published well before the first Harry Potter book ever saw the light of day.

    As much as I enjoyed her books, J.K. is nothing but a derivative hack, and for her to try to keep HP from the digital realm to prevent copying is blatant hypocrisy.

     

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  39.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: J. K. Rowling and piracy

    Well, I meant before ebooks. :)

    I used to do it all the time. See a book that looks interesting, but not worth the Hardcover price. By the time paperback comes out, I've all but forgotten about the book.

    Making me wait for what I want is the real lost sale.

     

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  40.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    By one 10 year old, even. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    Dammit, Anti-Mike, again you confuse me by presenting a logical argument when all I expect from you is FUD. I can't see a single thing in that post that I disagree with, except for you insinuation that fair use (yes it's a real thing, putting quotes around it doesn't change that) is a loophole that exists only to be exploited.

    So it's clear that logical arguments are not completely lost on you; why then can you not see the point that above commenter made? If your business model can be destroyed by a few people with computers, you don't deserve to be in business. Adapt or die.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    Your stupid "arguments" caused me to start pirating the other day. Good job!

     

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  43.  
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    Bas (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Yeah, I noticed this article too. What stood out to me is that they said BitTorrent is a filesharing website. Haha.

    "pirated digital copies of the novel were found on file-sharing sites such as Rapidshare and BitTorrent."

     

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  44.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    i'm more of a "sudo pacman -S brains" kind of guy.

     

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  45.  
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    erlangga (profile), Jan 5th, 2010 @ 2:09pm

    you dont know the situation in Indnesia,..i wish you know...

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:14am

    Scale? Nonsense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Book Piracy

    "Nothing from this publication may be copied or multiplied in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission from [author's name]."
    Standard disclaimer on a lot of publications.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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