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
    AR (profile), 14 Jan 2011 @ 2:43pm

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

    Rigid control is one of the issues. You touted the tolerance of the mixed tape. If you remember It wasnt until after a Supreme Court ruling allowing it, that it became tolerated. It had something to do with personal use. I believe in Canada their is still a "tax" on blank cassettes to address this issue.

    As for costs, since you are going to look for every possible cost to the owner (real and imaginary), what of the costs to society (or individuals)from overly draconian patent/copyright/IP laws? The inhibitions to competition and innovation are first to come to mind. there are the cost to competitors from "rights holders" that sue other companies and individuals claiming infringement just to stop (or profit from) anothers product even when there is no infringement. There are also the cost to consumers from higher prices because of the lack of competition and the use of these laws to allow companies to "corner the market".

    Although I may agree with some of your claims, you also need to look at the other side of the coin.

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