eBook Pirates Tend To Be Older And Well Off, Which Means They Pirate Because Of Human Intuition On Economics

from the the-infinite dept

People tend to have a hard time discussing the two mathematical concepts of zero and infinity. It’s not hard to understand why this is, of course, with reality being a material thing and both the lack of and the infinite amount of something being somewhat foreign. And this manifests itself in all sorts of disciplines, from cosmology to spirituality to physics. And, of course, economics, particularly in the digital age where many of the axioms surrounding physicality no longer apply to digitized goods. Zero and infinity play heavy roles here, both in the discussion of free content (zero) and the concept of digital and freely copyable goods as a resource (infinity). The economic nature of these concepts have long vexed established industries, even as some of us have pointed out how efficient and useful infinite digital goods can be if properly applied.

Industry rebuttals to the economics of all of this have mostly amounted to facile derision in the form of slandering younger generations who either “just want free stuff” or “want stuff they cannot afford.” Neither makes much sense, with both claims easily disproven given statistics demonstrating how much more is spent by “pirates” than those who don’t pirate content. The truth is that, while the average citizen likely can’t speak eloquently about the economic laws at work for digital goods, they certainly can understand them intuitively. And this can be shown with piracy statistics for eBooks, which a recent study shows that eBook pirates tend to be both older and relatively affluent.

A new study, commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc and conducted by Nielsen, aims to shine light on eBook piracy. It was presented yesterday at The London Book Fair and aims to better understand how eBook piracy affects revenue and how publishers can prevent it.

In previous studies, it has been younger downloaders that have grabbed much of the attention, and this one is no different. Digimarc reveals that 41% of all adult pirates are aged between 18 and 29 but perhaps surprisingly, 47% fall into the 30 to 44-year-old bracket. At this point, things tail off very quickly, as the remaining ~13% are aged 45 or up. There are also some surprises when it comes to pirates’ income. Cost is often cited as a factor when justifying downloading for free, and this study has similar findings. In this case, however, richer persons are generally more likely they are to download.

With nearly half of eBook pirates falling into their thirties or forties, and the study later showing that two-thirds of eBook pirates have household incomes of at least $30k per year, and almost a third having incomes in six figures, this simply isn’t a situation that can be explained away by pointing at young poor people. So, why do older, more affluent people pirate eBooks?

I would argue it’s instinctual. Most of these people may not even be able to explain the term “marginal cost”, but by instinct they feel that something that costs nothing to reproduce ought not to require payment. Their brains do this calculation behind the scenes, not thinking about the sunk costs of initial production, nor the sweat-equity spent by the content creator. Marginal cost is the term used by economists to explain pricing laws that emerged organically through human instinct.

This isn’t to say that unauthorized downloading is somehow acceptable when eBook publishers wish against it. But it certainly does suggest that any eBook publisher, or publisher of other digital content, has a very high hill which it must roll its old business model wagon up to make it work. Human intuition is one hell of a thing to overcome. So much so, in fact, that it’s likely the better strategy is to figure out how to make that intuition and infinite digital goods a boon rather than the enemy.

Now, it’s worth noting that the price of eBooks was still a factor for those responding in the study, but not nearly the factor that convenience played.

Given the majority of pirates’ ability to pay, it comes as no surprise that convenience is the number one driver for people obtaining content from torrent sites. Cost still takes the number two position but a not inconsiderable four out of ten still believe that online retailers are lacking when it comes to content availability.

In other words, a huge amount of eBook piracy could likely be done away with immediately, if the content cost closer to what the buyer instinctually believes it ought to be and the content was at least as readily available for purchase as it is through pirated means. That really can’t be that hard for eBook publishers to understand.

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Comments on “eBook Pirates Tend To Be Older And Well Off, Which Means They Pirate Because Of Human Intuition On Economics”

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Anonmylous says:


There is no mystery here. I mean specifically in this instance of older and wealthier people pirating digital books. Its simply a reflection of the publishing industry’s failure to grasp the times. People are not stupid, if they can very obviously see that a giant chunk of your production costs just evaporated, they will decide your product should be less expensive. And that’s what happened here. People in this age range lived through the digital revolution and understand what books used to cost, that book prices have only gone up, and that Amazon and Apple both have colluded with publishers to keep digital costs artificially high strictly to prevent an impact on physical sales.

Cause, ya know, people who read a lot of books tend to also read a lot of news and are often better informed than the general populace.

Narcissus (profile) says:

Re: heheheh

Exactly. I buy all my e-books because I enjoy supporting the writer but I make conscious decisions. If a book costs more than 10 $, I’m thinking really hard and will usually not buy unless it’s a more business oriented book.
If the digital copy is more expensive than the physical copy I’m not buying.

It’s not a matter of money. I can pay. It’s more that you don’t want to be ripped off.

WiseOdd says:

Re: Re: heheheh

This! This so much! The primary reason for new nor buying all my ebooks, is that I refuse to be ripped off when buying digital goods. There is no way in hell any digital food can ever be more expensive than the physical version. Sometimes the social version is much more epidermal free than the physical version.
I am relatively affluent, between 30 and 40, and am it professional. I know what the costs related are.
Fuck the publishers for once again screwing over both the seller and the buyer.

I have nothing against supporting the authors, if I could I would but all my books directly from them. Instead I have to rely on scumbag publishers that expect me to stupidly overpay for a product, whilst using their fucking insane DRM schemes that locks my purchases to specific devices and accounts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: heheheh

I spent a few years digitizing my physical collection. I couldn’t scan and compile my own copies so I found digital versions and gave away all of my physical copies. Since then I only buy DRM free books or strip the DRM as soon as I get it and my collection is now larger than the rest of my family members combined collections.

Taking a copy of all of them everywhere uses up less than 10% of a modern 128GB microSD card.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: heheheh

Not to mention DRM and outdated technologies dying out and becoming unusable also reduce the value of e-books.

If I buy a physical book I can re-read it whenever I want forever, as long as I don’t lose the book or let it get so badly damaged it falls apart.

E-Books however can often be stolen from me whenever the publisher wants to. And who knows if the Kindle/etc. format will still be readable in the future.

My brother is a pastor, and he said all the older pastors warned him to keep backups of his old sermons in txt files, because many of them lost their lost sermons by using now unsupported word document formats. Txt files on the other hand are unlikely to ever become completely unreadable with time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: heheheh

Personally, I just don’t want to give money to a company that calls people “pirates” and tries to prevent them from sharing art. I could borrow books from a library, or download them, and the only real difference is legality (but of course publishers would be crying “piracy” if someone invented the library today).

Besides that, the “legal” methods are excessively difficult or require giving up personal information. I don’t want someone to have a list of everything I read.

If somehow I could anonymously give money to an author and have them write a book I’d actually have rights to (redistribution at least), I’d be willing.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 heheheh

By the use of the words “Property” and “consume content.”

While, as Mike has correctly pointed out on many occasions, there are some property-like aspects to copyright, such as the ability to transfer it, copyright itself is not property like a house or a car.

Content is experienced, not consumed. It doesn’t turn into crap, then get excreted because you read, listened to, or watched it. If your experience of it is different the second or third time after you first accessed it, you’ve effectively taken its virginity; it’s now more familiar and the sense of wonder of “the first time” is now gone, but nobody likes to put it in those terms, do they? Except the man I had a full on shouting match with, who wouldn’t use the word “virginity” and insists on saying “consume.” So much for logic.

Look, people, if you use the words and phrases the maximalists use, you cede the argument to them by framing it in their terms and frantically try to defend yourself from charges of being a robber. The best argument we can come up with in that case is, “It’s not the same kind of property as a house or a car and you still have the access thereto, we haven’t removed it from you. We just have a copy of our own, now.” It’s a panto-style argument: “Oh no it isn’t!” “Oh, yes it is!” ad infinitum.

We need to re-frame the argument in our terms and put those toe-rags on the back foot.

RE: property: “It’s not property like a house or car; it’s not property at all. Rights can be transferred but rights aren’t property. Nothing has been stolen, we just made a copy. Stop lying!”

RE: consumption: “You don’t consume content, you experience it. Can’t you manage four syllables? Content doesn’t change its nature just because you viewed it, etc. It’s your personal experience of the content that changes because it’s not new to you any more. Therefore nothing was consumed; the content remains in an unchanged state.”

Maximalists use “property” and “consume” to imply a unique and finite resource that they alone have the right to control access to. Don’t play their game by using their words.

I expect I’ll be ignored again where this is concerned. :/ Can’t we at least discuss it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 heheheh

First you get pissed when digital sharing is called theft. Now you get pissed when you are called a pirate. You are the moron. Face it, you just don’t want to pay for the content, all the DRM bullshit talk is just that.

You just don’t want to pay for the content. Theft, pirate, whatever, you are just a cheap asshole.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: heheheh

“Amazon and Apple both have colluded with publishers to keep digital costs artificially high”

It’s also worth noting that readers know that price fixing and collusion were rampant during the physical days as well. Weirdly, when people know they’ve been routinely ripped off, they will find away around that.

Not to mention that experienced readers have always gone for cheaper options – for myself, I’ve always bought hardback books when it’s something I really, really wanted or requested as a gift. Paperbacks were much more common, however, with them regularly being second hand purchases or library rentals rather than new purchases. Even new purchases were driven as much by retailer discounts as the desire to read specific titles.

If you’re used to reading secondhand paperbacks, as many readers are, then that option gets removed from digital purchases and they’re being asked to pay much more than they would have done previously? Yeah, they’ll probably pirate – and since the money from their previous sales went to a secondhand retail and not the publisher/author, there’s not even a moral quandary.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve got an older eBook reader, and finding legitimate books that work on it is quite a PITA – not only because of unsupported formats, but also because online bookstores refuse to sell to me because I’m in the “wrong” country. When it’s easier for me to google ” epub” and get a working link within 2-3 clicks, why should I bother jumping through hoops?

I’d like to point out Baen here – they’re the only one I found where buying a book (that works everywhere) is simpler than downloading off random sites.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you haven’t already found it consider giving Smashwords a try. Free trials of pretty much any book, generally good prices, no DRM at all, and no regional restrictions that I’m aware of. I don’t think you even need to sign up to buy.

Depending on what genres you read, I might be able to toss some suggestions your way as well if Smashwords does look good to you, given over half of my ebook library came from there.

BernardoVerda (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Let me second the call-outs for Smashwords and BAEN Books.
The prices are reasonable, and the "No DRM" policy is a winning draw.

Also, the Gutenburg Project is worth a mention, for classics and for older (copyright expired) works
— "free" and "legal" is hard to beat.

I have more epubs from Smashwords or from BAEN Books than from everyone else combined (and the Gutenburg Project is the only other "publisher" that comes close to them).

I don’t have to worry about whether I can read it on this device, or only on that device, nor for how long I’ll be able to keep them and read them again. Nor do I need to fiddle with stripping DRM and/or tinkering with them in Calibre trying to ensure the book will render properly on whichever device I want to use this time.

If a book is worth reading, I’m certainly willing to pay for it. What I’m not willing to do is to wrestle with books I’ve paid honest cash for, just to be able to read them as I please on the device I please, when I can almost certainly get "pirated" versions for free, which I can just load and go, with no effort to speak of, on whichever device I find most convenient.

note that I said "ePub": I don’t buy e-books from Amazon or for Kindle — in my mind, "proprietary formats" is a concept even more incompatible with "books" and "Literature" than DRM is, and I simply refuse to support a publisher who tries to foist that brain-dead idea on the general public.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not in it’s base form, and not unless you convert the formats(though conversion is trivially easy, literally taking two clicks).

From what I’ve read(I don’t bother doing so myself) you need a specific add-on to the program to remove DRM, with Calibre itself going the standard CYOA route of telling users that such add-ons aren’t in any way officially supported, which means if you want the add-on you’re going to be getting it from someone else.

Someguy In Oz says:

Re: "not available in your country"

The most annoying part is when authors post “my new book is available” or “book is on special” and turn out to mean “might be available in your country in 6 months, or maybe a year, or maybe never. And definitely not on special, the ebook will be priced like the physical book”.

Signing up for notifications from the publishers is worthless, I’ve not found a way to avoid the generic spamvertising and just get a notification of the specific book.

So it’s “steal it now, or buy it in a year, if I remember”… nope.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A quick search gave me this, which if accurate suggests that the older the person the less likely they are to read ebooks, though the ranges aren’t too big when compared to the stats listed in this article.

Younger(18-29) people read slightly more(35%) and are slightly less likely to engage in ebook copyright infringement(41%), while older(30-49) people read slightly less(32%) and are slightly more likely to engage in ebook copyright infringement(47%).

The differences in ranges aren’t too big, at 3% reading and 6% infringement, but given how they’re reversed from what you might expect(with the younger demographic engaged in less, rather than more copyright infringement) the article seems to be accurate.

Anonymous Coward says:

Probably a very fluffy statistic...

People who read a decent number of books are probably more affluent to begin with. Reading ebooks on a phone is a pretty dire experience so we’re probably also looking at people who have spare cash to buy a dedicated ebook reader to support their reading, again pointing to affluence.

Lower-income readers probably grew up going to lending libraries rather than being allowed to use their parents’ phones and tablets for tens of hours per week. This means that not only will they have a habit of reading paper books over ebooks, but they probably also don’t have the habit of owning books in the first place; the library system owns the books those readers are reading.
So the nature of this survey likely means that you’re doing a lot of pre-selection for affluent people anyway.

To get any meaningful data out of this, you should be looking at the proportion of readers of ebooks who are affluent, then comparing that figure to the tendency of ebook pirates to be affluent. Only then would you be able to justify the kind of commentary you make in your article.

But hey, this is just an editorial hack job and not a credible science piece, so carry on.

Anonymous Coward says:

Speaking as a prolific (and much older) ebook pirate...

I have a physical library of several thousand books, and a virtual one of over 20,000. I don’t use an ebook reader or a tablet, I use a real computer with a real operating system (BSD Unix).

I’m not about to pay — again — for a book that I’ve already paid for in physical form.

I’m also not about to pay usurious rates for textbooks — there’s no reason that a third-year chemistry text costs $139 other than publisher greed.

I’m not about to pay for conference proceedings that are equally overpriced despite being paid for by the authors.

I’m not about to pay for technical books that are essentially FAQs stretched to book length and bloated with lengthy code examples. (I’m looking at you, Packt.)

I’m not about to pay for books that should have passed out of copyright years and years ago.

Publishers have only themselves to blame for this. It’s their endless desire for profit and control that convinced me, more than anything else, that I should dispense with them. I’m no longer interested in persuading them or dealing with them: I don’t need them.

And neither does anyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Speaking as a prolific (and much older) ebook pirate...

I don’t know why you think BSD is a "real" OS beyond any other

I am not the GP, but he uses the same phrasing I find myself using in similar conversations. When I look at the commonly used operating systems on mobiles, I cannot help but call them toy operating systems unsuitable for heavy work. In part, this is because they, by design, come with only token input capability. They are designed as an output-mostly device. That they can take input at all, usually in the form of an on-screen keyboard, is a concession to the fact that people want to treat their mobiles as input/output devices, not just portable radios. Try writing a thesis on a mobile. Try writing it on a laptop or desktop (the "real" computers running "real" operating systems like Windows, Linux, BSD, or Mac OS X). Compare the difference.

OP, like me, probably defines "real" OS as those commonly found on laptops/desktops, not on mobiles or weird embedded devices. I am aware that, with enough peripherals, some mobiles can be converted to work like a laptop. That is not their intended usage model, and those peripherals are usually sold separately, so I consider those devices based on their intended usage, not their theoretically possible usage. Even when they can be converted, they often retain the software semantics that, while passable on a mobile, are just frustrating or silly on a full size system.

I view computers that are output-mostly as toys. If I am expected to use it for long form input, particularly non-point&click input, I want a device with a physical keyboard (or an equivalent size virtual input, but in practice, that means physical keyboard; digital equivalents that reproduce the hands-low position and are large enough to permit full-hand typing are rare). If I have the luxury of not hauling the computer around (i.e. working in the back office, not as a traveling salesman), I strongly prefer the layout of a non-portable desktop over a portable laptop. Lightweight laptops are wonderful if you need to be able to move them around. If a computer can usefully spend 99%+ of its lifetime in one place, I will gladly accept the inconvenience of being anchored in exchange for input devices that are optimized for usability, not minimal size.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Speaking as a prolific (and much older) ebook pirate...

I am curious what you think is a fake computer. I do agree with you entirely on publisher greed. Textbooks are priced way too high. It is even starting to affect our local schools. Many classes are now being taught from teacher created curriculum. Goes to show that it was cheaper to hire a team of teachers to create the curriculum that met with state standards than to buy the textbooks.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Speaking as a prolific (and much older) ebook pirate...

Teaching is one thing I’d rather not leave to “the market,” particularly where for-profit charter schools are concerned. You end up getting the cheapest they will pay for, and that’s not usually the best since people who might want to teach won’t do it for low wages for the love of the job.

I’ve seen standards plummet over here (many of my colleagues have shockingly low standards of English spelling and grammar, even though they’re English and were born here) due to Tory spending cuts on education and for the same reasons as listed above: when a school is run on a tight budget, standards drop because more talented, experienced staff cost more to hire.

Chris Pratt (profile) says:

I routinely see ebook prices exceeding those of the paperback and sometimes even the hardcover versions of the same book. I’d imagine the average older affluent person can easily recognize that the ebook version cuts a great many distribution costs: printing and publishing, shipping, warehousing, brick and mortar retailing, etc. Instead, there’s only the initial cost of digital production, which is inherent regardless of the ultimate format the book may take, and that of storage and bandwidth. The latter of which are so cheap as to be almost inconsequential 8n the equation. So, yes, ebooks should still cost something, but no where near what publishers think they should be able to charge. Until they correct this dissonance, piracy will remain an issue.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Early on, iTunes did the same. There was a case where an American moved to Canada. iTunes saw his new Canadian credit card, said “Not licensed there!”, and wiped his purchased music. There are plenty of other cases.

The legal system has a double standard where files are considered property when corporations own them, but not when citizens own them. Or worse than that: Duplicating a file – leaving the original in place – is theft. Jail-breaking an X-Box can put you in jail because it might be used for theft. But theft by a corporation – remotely deleting or disabling your purchased content – is allowed with the flimsiest of reasoning.

Small wonder that there’s growing contempt for that part of the legal system.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Now really, Roger, didn’t you know it’s not “theft” if a corporation takes your stuff?

I’m thinking of incorporating myself so I can rob stuff at will and declare that it’s not been licenced for use in Manchester. If it works for Amazon, why not for me? Or do I have to get big and downright evil to my workers first?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No, you're looking at it wrong, still: this says people who can pay simply won't.

Sounds like you haven’t bothered to try making buying worth it. I choose the even simpler option: I do without. Buying is never going to be simple as that.

out_of_the_blue still hasn’t found any brain cells to call his own, it seems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: No, you're looking at it wrong, still: this says people who can pay simply won't.

Exactly my point. out_of_the_blue claims on the behalf of sellers that it’s impossible for sellers to convince people to buy as opposed to make copies. My point is that he’s already decided that it’s not even worth trying, despite it being the seller’s job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 No, you're looking at it wrong, still: this says people who can pay simply won't.

No, out_of_the_blue has simply been posting on Techdirt without his telltale pseudonym. But his style of using double dashes, capitalizing random letters, etc. remains consistently telltale. That and the same obsession over topics such as mocking the post topic no matter how convoluted the hoops he has to jump through are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No, you're looking at it wrong, still: this says people who can pay simply won't.

It is only easier if it happens to be on Netflix. If it isn’t, popcorn time and many many other options can have it streaming to you in the same time it would take to queue up on Netflix. The reason you can’t do this with Netflix is….. the middlemen like MPIAA who spend millions a year making sure you can’t watch old episodes of your favorite show.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

But who is saying this in the first place?

My single book pirated in at least the last decade. Time spent trying and failing to transfer my legally published ebook to the Reader( 2 hours), Time to pirate a american copy of the book as different to my Australian copy of the book, 5 minutes.

If a publisher is charging more for a ebook then the Hardback, i regard it as a insult and my presumption now is they don’t want me to read that ebook. Ever. I don’t pirate it, i just never buy it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I personally rarely buy any e-book costing more than $6. But I’m in that same age group and I DON’T EFFIN PIRATE. What’s so hard to understand that if you don’t want to pay the price then DON’T BUY IT and DON’T PIRATE IT EITHER! You aren’t sticking it “to the man”. All you’re doing is giving these people more reason to double down on copyright maximalism rather than changing their business practices. And you know what? It’s not just kids that “want stuff for free”. A rich guy will cheat you faster than anyone else and rationalize it just as quickly, so don’t give me that there’s some “intuitive reasoning” going on. This study’s conclusions just rationalizes their actions, too. These people just want something without paying for it making them just as greedy as anyone else taking something they don’t need without paying for it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

All you’re doing is giving these people more reason to double down on copyright maximalism rather than changing their business practices.

No, not really. When the standard ‘responses'(more DRM, more restrictions on purchase and use, harsher penalties) just make people more likely to see what they’re being offered as a rotten deal and decide to skip the whole ‘buy’ step, saying that they’re being given more reasons for more failed anti-piracy techniques doesn’t quite strike me as true.

Now if you change ‘reason’ to ‘excuse’, that I might buy, but ‘reason’? No. Shooting their own feet was a stupid move the first time around, pirates aren’t giving them ‘reason’ to pull the trigger another time, that’s all on them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Copying, to me, is the modern equivalent of the public library. I reject the idea that it’s wrong or that we should shame people for doing it.

Publishers can scream as much as they want, and I won’t be giving them money while they call us names. But I’m not going to pretend it’s wrong to copy stuff just because they happen to own some copyrights on it. Companies can’t “own” knowledge. They don’t even write the books.

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem is that the argument: “don’t want to pay don’t buy it”….is flawed, really flawed.

First, most people is not that they don’t want to pay but they CANNOT. No money! More than half of the world population lives on less than 2 USD per day, according to UN and World Bank data. So “don’t want to pay” is a lie. The correct assertion would be can’t afford it.

So what would be your answer to that? Fill in the blank: “if you cannot afford it then ________”. There are 2 main options: 1) fukk off, 2) get it somehow…

Second, that argument is forgetting that people are FREE to copy and share information as much as they want, this is a natural right. Regardless of what some for-profit stupid law has to say about it. Remember, laws have to adjust to peoples uses and customs, not the other way around. We don’t have to stop sharing just because a law says so, so a few can keep their profits flowing. If my buddy lends me his copy of his ebook then i can just make a copy for myself, who is to say otherwise? better yet? who is going to enforce the opposite and come after me? Trying to enforce the unenforceable.

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes! A Netflix for books. Yes. I second that. But not only the cheap ass books from yestercentury or the bmovies i mean obscure books that are just niche for a few people. The new books, the classics, the bestsellers, the masterpieces, the complete works, etc, they all have to be there. Otherwise we will end up in the same place as today, people using Netflix to shut the mouths of kids and lousy girlfriends, and still using kodi and torrents and else to get the new stuff and keep those peoples with their mouths shut (lol).

A netflix for games wouldn’t be that bad either, yes GOG and such are good but more can be done.

Again, all falls back, always, to the huge and greedy profit expectations of the authors or their distributors or rights holders.

Anonymous Coward says:

I started “pirating” ebooks back when it was the only way to get digital books of any kind (generally poor home made photocopies and later raw error-filled OCRs) when paper books were not available locally, and even after ebooks started being sold I continued my old habits because of the horrors of DRM. Although I’d much rather read paper books when available, I would have gladly bought DRM-free ebooks from the very start if only they had been around.

It was sad to see that Thursday’s Techdirt Reading List only lasted for a one-year run. Hopefully if Mike ever comes across any more good books he’ll tell us about them, now that the pressure is off to find something to talk about every single week.

william e emba says:

Same old same old

Nothing new here.

Dubner and Levitt (“Freakonomics”) described the real-world experiment done by Paul Feldman “What the Bagel Man Saw”. He quit his high-powered Beltway analyst position and took to selling bagels in fancy offices on the honor system. As a numbers freak, he recorded everything. The biggest thieves, naturally enough, were the CEOs and lawyers.

A 2012 study in PNAS “Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior” found poor behavior, from lying and stealing to aggressive driving, was more common among the upper classes.

My own personal introduction to this aspect of human nature came on UC Berkeley campus back in the 1980s. Once when I bought a newspaper from a sidewalk stand, after I put my quarter in and opened up the box, a hand reached in and grabbed the top paper. I shouted at the fellow “aren’t you going to pay?” and he just looked at me as if I was just a stupid sucker. He then walked into Boalt Hall, home of the UCB Law School.

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Same old same old

Well yes, the hungry is thinking on how to get food. The struggling is thinking how to get a little less struggled aka a bit more money or a higher paying job. A middle classer is thinking how to get a bigger car (after selling the current one of course). But one who owns a private island, well, one who owns a private island is only thinking how to get a thousand more of those, at whatever the cost.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How many people grab torrents on impulse just because they’re there?

Or because of perceived scarcity. It’s there now, and it won’t be in a few days if the publishers have their way. If people know the books are still going to be on Project Gutenberg or archive.org in a few years, they might not bother.

Someguy In Oz says:

Re: Re:

I find the giant torrents quite handy, but I download a great number of books to get the few I want. It’s especially annoying when the torrent has dupes and mislabelled books. It sort of makes sense because books are so tiny, even the worst fiction ebooks are under 10MB, and the actual torrent file is often almost as big as the book.

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And lets also remember all those who start reading the book but never finish it, for whatever reason: it sucks, they found something better to read, changes in life, etc. And at that point what would be considered a lost sale too? After reading 10% of it? Or 25%? Or 75%?

And lets not forget also those that even though they finished it, they considered it complete shite and a waste of time, is there a refund in that case?

Rekrul says:

In other words, they realize that trying to pretend digital information is a limited quantity is ridiculous.

The same thing is happening with other content, like TV shows. The networks still like to pretend that TV shows are only available for a limited time, then they either get released on DVD, or they disappear forever. Want to watch the ABC show “Better With You” from 2010? Good luck finding it without resorting to piracy. How about the 2005 NBC sitcom “Committed”? (I like Jennifer Finnigan) Same problem.

The internet is like the world’s greatest library and the copyright industry wants to kill it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If I go to a soccer match, should I expect to watch the game sitting in an unsold seat? I mean, why should I have to pay? The seat was empty, it doesn’t lessen the match for any of those who actually did pay, and in fact, they can increase their revenue because I might buy some food and a shirt.

It isn’t lost revenue to the team, because I wouldn’t have paid to see the match anyway. The game happens one way or another.

What is so hard for you to understand? You just don’t want to pay the price asked, so you get the free version.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Funny thing about the example you went with even beyond the fact that ‘steal’ is still not the right term to use, unless the seat infringer takes the seat home with them when they leave. As you yourself note the ‘seat infringer’ might pay, not for the seat but perhaps food or something else. You’ve got their attention, and with that you still have a chance to get their money as well.

The person who ‘does without’ in that example though? The one who sees the price and decides that nah, that’s not worth it, and as a virtuous upstanding citizen decide against the ‘free version’? They aren’t paying squat. They aren’t paying for the seat, they aren’t paying for the food, they’re not paying for a shirt. They’ve moved on with their attention, meaning the chance of you getting any of their money has likewise gone.

The difference between someone engaged in copyright infringement and someone ‘doing without’ is that while neither are giving you money now, the latter is drastically less likely to give you any money in the future thanks to their attention having moved on to other things.

This is why I always find it funny when people respond to copyright infringement with ‘If you don’t like the terms/price do without!’, as neither group is paying now, but the ‘do without’ group is even worse when it comes to possible future sales, making it a counter-productive argument.

OA (profile) says:

I’ve been reading electronics books and docs perhaps for as long as there have been portable devices capable of reading them. Among other things, I especially liked the convenience (like being able to search them) and space saving (no bookshelf needed) of digital books. I’ve used pres, palm pilots, Sony clie, various eink readers, desktops, laptops, the scrolling displays on those old Casio (and radio shack) calculators and devices I’ve forgotten already. Some people would scan books, use (terrible) OCR on it, then read the books and make edits over time. This meant that books could have many errors even after multiple revisions. Books would have version numbers like LOTR: Fellowship v1.3. Depending on format, source and skill of the converter there may have been no images, special characters might have been screwed up, chapters not properly delineated, and so on. The early to mid formats I recall were txt, pdb, lrf, mobi, lit, prc, rtf, pdf, htm, djvu, chm, doc (usually not MS Word). This is all from momentary recollection, I’m sure I must have forgotten some.

If you like you can interpret that paragraph as “I was doing it before it was cool” (or before Google), though that was not the intent… All of this passion and forward thinking (I’m not talking about myself) ends up as just another situation waiting for the big players to come along and pick it up. Conditions were not conducive to small organic “disruption”. Instead conditions restrain innovation until certain big players are forced to eventually pay attention and rake in the big bucks (poor guys). It was obvious they would screw it up or abuse it. Like with children, “you can’t have nice things”. I, for instance, will not use any electronic book store, connect any e-reader to the internet or purchase any kindle device (no open epub format).

I wonder about the purpose of corporations. Recently, I recall some calling themselves things like “providers” or “they-built-this” or whatever marketing they use to project their self-images into people’s heads. Instead of earning money for useful, beneficial services it seems they crowd various domains in order to try to alter services and the need for services, monetizing them by manufacturing the necessity for their existence. This allows them to EXTRACT money; treating and thinking of the populous as existing to provide money or provide cheap labor. The historical purpose of corporations was not ambiguous. Broadly speaking their current, apparent, purpose is part cancer, part gibberish and part tradition (momentum). It’s like a cross-section of greed, aggression and weaponized ignorance.

– OA

Chombs (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not true. The purpose is to first and foremost provide a benefit or service to society. There are many NGOs for example.

And more lies (maybe not intentionally but as product of ignorance as OA points out – which sometimes is even worse),
the best way to make money is with a monopoly, or stealing it, or by invading other countries and taking their resources (hello USA & war).

What is a corporation? Get your facts straight. Lie all what you want to yourself, but please don’t try to lie to others.

Douglas says:

DRM eBooks are loans

If you buy a DRM-laden eBook, when the DRM stops working, you lose access to your book. So you’re not buying it, you’re just borrowing it. But we already have places for borrowing books for free: libraries. eBooks with DRM belong in lending libraries, if anywhere, and certainly not in book stores.

josie says:

Perhaps theres also a factor that the publishing community (including writers) have been fucking us on price for DECADES and paybacks a Bitch.

Since the first printing press, the price of books has been coming down and this is the new reality. Stop writing those $10 books. Theres already plenty of 99cent books out there anyway. Get with the New Economics or find another line of work.

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