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. identicon
    herbert, 14 Jan 2011 @ 12:49pm

    unless the results come from 'studies' that have been funded by the various branches of the entertainment industries, they dont want anyone to see those results or will do as much as they can to call into disrepute those results and the people that carried out the studies. they know full well that if the 'powers that be' could be convinced to at least check the results, then the cat would be out of the bag and the constant 'we are being crippled by piracy' claims would fall flat. maybe piracy does diminish sales of various types of media, but nowhere near to the extent that is claimed and as is stated here, can actually increase sales. the most important thing is to give customers choices of what they want, how to get what they want, drm free and at sensible prices. customers are, however, at the bottom of the list, with corporate executives (and their outdated opinions and business models) are at the top, simply to keep prices fixed and their salaries at extortionate levels.

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