Why Authors Shouldn't Sign On With Publishers Focused On 'Fighting Piracy'

from the they're-not-looking-out-for-your-best-interests dept

Copycense points us to a blog post by Timo Boezeman on a book publishing blog, in which he points out that "fighting piracy is the dumbest thing you can do," as a publisher. There isn't necessarily much new there for regular readers of this site, but it is a nice succinct summary of the issues.

In many ways, it comes down to the simple equation of which is more important: your overall revenue or stopping piracy. For some reason, many in various legacy industries have trouble separating those two questions, and often think that it's the same question. They assume (incorrectly) that "stopping piracy" automatically increases revenue, and that allowing infringement to continue automatically decreases revenue. But that's not the case. There are all sorts of other variables and unintended consequences. That's the point that Boezeman is making:
Not only does it cost you time and money (and hardly shows results, again learn from the music industry), it can cost you your image. This might be a difficult one to grasp. Especially if you do not want/dare to look at other industries that have already dealt with this before. The reason people illegally download is not always because they want something for free. Common reasons are: convenience (in a file format of your choice to use on a device of your choice), speed (why wait for it to become available here if you can already get it elsewhere? It feels unfair, and more important: the consumer doesn’t want to wait) or availability (see the Harry Potter example, as mentioned on FutureBook two weeks ago).

If these are the reasons for people to download illegally, then how can it make sense for publishers to start actively fighting them. Because the most important fact is: they want your product! It’s up to you (as a content creator/provider) to ensure that consumers can buy your products in the simplest way, as quickly as possible, for a good (reasonable) price and without any fuss (no DRM, no unnecessary copyright notices and usable on a device of their own choice).
Of course, this raises a separate issue. If you're an author, do you want to work with a publisher who's going to focus on "stopping piracy," or one who's going to focus on maximizing revenue for you? Again, if you can't separate the two, you may assume that they're one and the same. But if you recognize these are two different things, suddenly the publishers who focus so much on "stopping piracy," appear to be publishers who probably aren't that good at maximizing your revenue.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    John Doe, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    Obscurity is the real enemy...

    I think content creators should love to be pirated. If you are being pirated, then you are getting noticed. If you are getting noticed, the cash register will ring. Obscurity is the real enemy here.

     

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

  2.  
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    Nom du Clavier (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    And all time and money spent chasing pirates isn't spent promoting your works either, not to mention the costs will come out of your royalty cut one way or the other.

     

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  3.  
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    Nom du Clavier (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    And all time and money spent chasing pirates isn't spent promoting your works either, not to mention the costs will come out of your royalty cut one way or the other.

     

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  4.  
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    Shawn, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    "For me -- for pretty much every writer -- the big problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity" Cory Doctorow

    A free download is free advertising.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Sounds like freetardo pirate talk.

     

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  6.  
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    Prashanth (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    I have an idea - from now on, let's mod as many posts like the one above as possible as "funny". I mean, really, at this point I'm having trouble distinguishing the trolls from the hilariously sarcastic troll-imitators.
    Also, regarding the comment just below mine - I can attest to that as well. I'm the author of a blog, and I constantly try to find new ways to promote my articles, typically among link aggregation sites. I'm always happy when people link to my posts and comment on them too.

     

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  7.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Hilarious. The exact same point is quoted in the post above yours from a successful author who's managed to be successful by following that advice. Rarely have 5 words made someone look so stupid.

     

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  8.  
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    A Dan (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Generally speaking, the hilarious troll-imitators have account names you'll recognize.

     

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  9.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Perhaps they should Free Harder?

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Listen, I work with the mentally challenged on a regular basis. They have it hard enough without people such as yourself spreading the acceptability of slurs that we've spent the better part of the 90s fighting to antiquate. Calling someone a retard, is the same as calling them "the n word".

    Think about it, many of the children stricken with brain trauma were once as normal as any child you may see on a regular basis. How would you feel if they were referred to as a "retard" because of the accepted use of the word "freetard".

     

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  11.  
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    Huph, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    Does He Want Publishers to Fight or Not?

    I don't understand what the author is talking about. If publishers were to eliminate windows so that people can legally download content at the same time worldwide, wouldn't that be "fighting" piracy? If they provide every file format, wouldn't that be "fighting" it?

    Aren't these the things he wants?

    Does he want publishers to simply accept illegal downloading (as in, not fight it), or does he want them to provide better service to potential customers?

    Maybe he should work on his analogies, especially since he's an author. Technically no one is literally "fighting" pirates (though that would hellaciously entertaining), they're all just trying to maximize profits and eliminate free access to their content being provided by third parties.

    It seems like he's just trying to jam buzz points and quotes into a blog so that it will be picked up and reposted... wait... I get it now.

     

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

  12.  
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    Christopher (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    With all due respect, if you are mentally abnormal to the point where you are not as smart as the mean of other people, you ARE retarded and I am not going to apologize for calling you that, because it is solely the truth.

    If you don't like that? Simply don't associate with me or do/say the things that lead me to calling you retarded.

     

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

  13.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 3:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    "Free Harder"

    Sounds like a Die Hard remake done by the porn industry ...

     

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  14.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    "Listen, I work with the mentally challenged on a regular basis ..."

    I got to that point and thought, oh god he is going to saracstically slam the record labels or other big content. The next line had me drooling waiting for "it".

    "They have it hard enough without people such as yourself spreading the acceptability of slurs that we've spent the better part of the 90s fighting to antiquate."

    Then the let down ...

    "Calling someone a retard, is the same as calling them "the n word"."

    Boy was I disappointed.

     

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

  15.  
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    Dru Watt, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 4:12pm

    I wonder if, in the (distopian) future, patent and copyright ownership will commonly be divided into two legally distinct ownership rights, in much the same way that mineral rights can be separate and distinct from land ownership.

    These two distince 'intellectual' properties being:

    1. Sale & Distribution rights.
    2. Lawsuit rights.

    These "lawsuit rights" being marketable commodities that could freely be bought and sold - or even perhaps compiled and packaged into corporations, with shares sold to investors.

    This way, professional patent trolls could purchase the right to sue companies for infringement, while still allowing the original inventor the future option of employing the patent in a product or selling it to another company in the future.

    Likewise, copyright trolls could buy the right to sue bittorrent swarms, while leaving the original author all other rights.

    I realize that this is not an entirely new concept, but I wonder if this sort of legal/financial instrument might not be commoditized and mass-marketed in the future.

    I would certainly hope not, but anytime there's money to be made (in this case a potential gold mine) it's usually a safe bet that it will happen.

     

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  16.  
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    TDR, Apr 20th, 2011 @ 5:07pm

    Mike, while I agree with a lot of what you say, I think it might be a good idea to stop using the loaded term "piracy" and actually use a word that describes what the action actually is—sharing would be best, I think, since it doesn't always include infringement (and if the law weren't bought and paid for by entertainment industry lobbyists, infringement wouldn't even be a concept at all). Using the industry's terms only validates them, when we should be using the more accurate terms to show what is really happening.

     

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  17.  
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    Chargone (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Does He Want Publishers to Fight or Not?

    actually, those aren't so much 'fighting' as 'accepting and moving on.'

    the fact that it has the result those 'fighting' piracy Claim to be aiming for is neither here nor there.

     

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  18.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Apr 20th, 2011 @ 10:16pm

    Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    Sounds like a dumb troll.

     

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  19.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    No, that's Dong Harder. Don't ask mm how I know that, it involves lesbian stripper ninjas and Austin Powers.

     

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

  20.  
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    JR, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 12:08pm

    Is there a rason for publishers today?

     

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

  21.  
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    John Doe, Apr 21st, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obscurity is the real enemy...

    You are totally ignorant to say:

    "With all due respect, if you are mentally abnormal to the point where you are not as smart as the mean of other people, you ARE retarded and I am not going to apologize for calling you that, because it is solely the truth."

    because half of the population are not "retards" or the current term "developmentally disabled." You have to be several standard deviations below the mean IQ to be a "retard" or "developmentally disabled." Only 1 or 2 percent of the population is "retarded." (If I remember my old psych books, there was some debate over was it an IQ or 60 or 70.

    Also you have to be totally ignorant or insulting not to use the less insulting term when you can.

    I would suggest spending some more time in school unless you want people to think you are borderline mentally disabled making statements like half the population is retarded.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    it's like saying the H word., Sep 10th, 2011 @ 5:10pm

    Shut yo mouth

    @Anonymous Coward APRIL 20th, first of all, the troll didn't say the word "retarded". Second, people with mental problems weren't killed like Black people. Look, you brought up the N word and I just can't see why you fall back on black people every time you want to prove a point about something that isn't even worth talking about.

    I think some of the people you work with are smarter than you.

     

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


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