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
    Squire Headlong, 15 Jan 2011 @ 9:00am

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

    > Honestly, if ice was free, plentiful, and delivered to your door for free every day, I suspect that there would be no refrigerator business, because nobody would invest to go up against free.

    Then that would be an economic advance. If something becomes plentiful, we gain.

    > That is what piracy does, it stunts the market and takes away people's desire to enter into the market.

    Digital tech has made something plentiful -- means of copying and communicating data (etc.). 'Piracy' tries to realise those gains. People should be copying more -- that is a good thing, it realises the gains. People should not be paying more -- it cancels out the gains.

    It is copyright that is stunting the gains of the internet. We have the greatest advance in information/communication tech in 500 years, and certain corporations are crying: " it is ruining the economy!!!", "it is destroying culture!!!" -- it really is laughably stupid.

    Some people seem to have their minds locked in to a copyright world, unable to think of anything else. The reality is, we have people's capability to produce, and we have the given technological context, and we arrange things to suit those. And if copyright does not make much sense anymore, we do something else.

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