Book Publishers Misguided Complaints About Scribd

from the sensationalism-at-work dept

If you're a bored journalist, it's easy to create a sensationalistic story about "piracy." Just find some pre-internet industry that's dealing with the shift to online content, get a few quotes about how awful "pirates" are, and then find a company to blame for all of it. That seems to be what the Times of London did with its story about publishers freaking out over people uploading books to Scribd. Scribd responded by pointing out numerous factual errors in the original article (specifically the parts that seem to try to place the blame on Scribd, despite it being a third party platform that actually has a pretty advanced anti-infringement system in place). However, this is the quote that struck me:
Peter Cox, a literary agent and editor of the Litopia blog, said: "These people are pirates. We don't have to give in to this. We can't afford to make the same mistakes the music industry did."
Apparently Mr. Cox hasn't been paying attention. The "music industry" (he means the recording industry) didn't give in on this. It fought it consistently. And lost pretty much every battle -- often making things worse for itself by simply never adjusting to the changing marketplace. So, Cox's response is to follow their exact mistakes by "fighting" this? That's exactly the mistake that the music industry made.

Instead, he might want to take a look at what folks like Paulo Coehlo discovered when he "pirated" his own books and saw sales jump. Or what Baen books has done. Or what tons of authors have found after they put their books online for free and combined it with a smart business model. Otherwise, Mr. Cox is making the exact mistake the recording industry made while thinking (incorrectly) that trying to "stop piracy" is somehow a workable solution.

Filed Under: books, piracy, publishers, publishing
Companies: scribd


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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 2 Apr 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Admit it. What "burns" you about the term is that it uses the word "property", and in the economic matters you discuss you believe (as do many economists) that only tangible goods should be so identified.

    No, what "burns" me is using a term that is wrong to explain your position. It makes you look stupid, and I'm sick of arguing against stupid arguments.

    I well understand the economic arguments, but also understand that all property in a societal sense is a creature of law. What may be deemed property in economic arguments does not necessarily carry over to our system of laws.

    For example, that is the stupidest argument I've seen all day. So you are basically saying that it's okay to use the wrong definition because it's all semantics? That makes no sense. Copyright is not property because IT IS NOT PROPERTY. It has VERY DIFFERENT characteristics, both ECONOMICALLY and LEGALLY. Saying they're the same or using real property as an analogy is wrong. It makes you look like a fool.

    I mean, this is pretty basic stuff. Arguing against it makes you look stupid, and I'm sick of arguing against stupid.

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