Why Won't Copyright Holders Run Studies On The Actual Impact Of Piracy?

from the wouldn't-they-want-to-know dept

A bunch of folks have sent in this recent O'Reilly Radar interview with Brian O'Leary, concerning the data on the impact of ebook "piracy," with many pointing to the following quote:
Data that we collected for the titles O'Reilly put out showed a net lift in sales for books that had been pirated. So, it actually spurred, not hurt, sales.
Of course, if you read the details, he's actually saying this is from a study from a couple years ago, and the focus of his point is that there really isn't enough data to say yet. He's hoping that other publishers will work with him to do more research on this subject, but so far, they haven't.

O'Leary, correctly, points out that there are lot of factors involved and it would be nice to have more data to look at the actual impact. But what really struck me is that line about how publishers simply aren't willing to collect the data and study the actual impact of unauthorized copies. I'm trying to figure out why this is. There are so many copyright holders who whine and complain about the impact of unauthorized copies, that you would think they would be all over the idea of working with some researchers to figure out the actual impact (good or bad), so that they can respond accordingly. That they refuse to do so seems oddly telling. It's as if they don't want to know. I can only speculate as to why, but as a guess, I would imagine that some firms are afraid of finding out that the impact isn't as bad as they think (or, as O'Reilly discovered, that it's positive on sales, rather than negative), and suddenly they've lost their "bogeyman" that they've been able to blame poor sales on.

Filed Under: ebooks, piracy, stats, studies
Companies: o'reilly


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 17 Jan 2011 @ 4:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ooootie Call.

    Ah hypocrisy at work. Moreover, since when is supporting a position with evidence elitism?

    Um. No. I wasn't saying [citation needed] overall is elitism. I was saying the suggestion via the [citation needed] that music today sucks is elitism. Everyone always likes to remember back to their younger days as having better music. And it's silly. There's always a ton of good music out there. Arguing that there's not is elitism or ignorance.

    Do the personal jabs make your think your positions are stronger?

    You made a stupid comment, pretending there were no such filters. I showed you how it was stupid. I'm sorry if you felt it was a personal jab.

    Let's debate the merits of the issues, shall we? Of course friends will make recommendations. Does that mean that the traditional filters (labels, studios, publishers) don't do a vastly superior job at identifying, developing, and promoting works that the public at large values?

    I'd argue that, yes, my friends do a much better job identifying and promoting works that I am interested in. Developing is a different issue, but that's a separate issue, and I'd argue that the major labels do a horrible job developing the vast majority of acts.

    You're missing the point. The noise increases for consumers if we don't care that the traditional big filters (labels, studios, publishers) are driven out of business by piracy.

    How so? I don't see them as being effective filters in the first place. As I said, I tend to rely on friends or services that know what I like. That has nothing to do with labels/studios/publishers.

    Those traditional filters also play a crucial role in non-digital contexts, such as markets where computers and/or regular Internet access isn't available.

    I'm not sure the point of this. In those markets, they're not inundated with the same amount of music that would require filters. Besides, in my experience working with/talking to musicians in such markets, they tend to rely a hell of a lot more on local filters anyway.

    Therefore, if we are considering what is best for "society" and the "public" it is important to consider those markets as well.

    Again, I think you underestimate the value of other filters outside of those you think work.

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