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
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jan 2011 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ooootie Call.

    Apologies;

    Accepted. While my opinions aren't always welcome, they aren't based on ether. Defining cost is always difficult, because it isn't just money. It can be time, effort, heck, opportunity costs for that matter. You can consider even the time wasted in creating something that gives nothing back (because it was too widely pirated to sell, example).

    Rigid control I think is never the issue. There is plenty of tolerance, and there are reasonable fair use exceptions to copyright already out there. Even low level piracy (the proverbial mix tape) is pretty much one of those things that every sort of agrees to ignore. However, with piracy so rampant, business models are being destroyed as a result. There is perhaps no clearer indication that there is financial impact. The destruction of the business model are something even TD can agree is the results of piracy. That in turn shows that there is loss, even if there are gains for others in other ways. Legally, they aren't trying to prove net losses over an ecosystem, just direct losses from piracy. I think TD has already long since proved that this is happening.

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