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, 15 Jan 2011 @ 9:24am

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

    TD rather points out that in reality it is alreaady happening like that and that methods used by rights-holders (DRM) won't do anything to change that.

    See, in my view, piracy (at it's current levels) is a transient situation. The current situation isn't long term tolerable by anyone (except the consumer getting the free ride).

    Most of the business models discussed here aren't durable, because they are predicated on a small number of people paying for the overall good of everyone. It's built on fewer people paying larger amounts, which is a situation that isn't tolerable in the long run.

    So for me, the point at which TD starts these sorts of discussions is flawed because the assumption is that not only is piracy here, but it will expand to cover 100% of the market. So rather than wait for it, we should all just give up now and give everything away now. It is taking a short term trend and attempting to apply it long term without consideration that things may (and likely will) change.

    Do you remember when My Space was "it"? Everyone and their dog was saying "this is the future of music marketing". Now My [blank] is laying off half it's staff and has become almost irrelevant. Things change.

    So just laying down and saying "piracy is the future, give up now" just isn't going to cut it.

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