Publishers Can't Seem To Celebrate The Ebook Boom Without Slipping In Odes To Copyright
from the not-quite-right dept
The piece by the BBC, which praises the market developments for consumers and authors alike, includes an odd quote, which seems more like pro-copyright lobby-speak and out of place in the article:
"The huge increase in digital sales shows how rapidly readers and publishers are embracing e-book reading," said Richard Mollet, the trade body's chief executive (Publishers Association, ed.). "Whether books are enjoyed physically or electronically, publishers will continue to invest in exciting authors and titles. They can do this because of the stability provided by the UK's robust and flexible copyright framework. This is why The PA is at the forefront of calls to government to ensure that copyright is not eroded and that creators' rights are protected and supported online."It is surprising in several ways that Mr. Mollet mentions the copyright framework. First, if this is true under today's system, why is his association actively pushing for stricter, less flexible copyright laws? Second, why is the current copyright framework more suitable for book authors and not musicians and movie producers, whose lobbyists are standing in line to complain about the current system? And why does the journalist bother to mention this in the quote at all, when the whole article is a praise of the market adapting to consumer needs?
Let's face it, the copyright system, robust or useless, hardly comes into the equation concerning the recent success of the ebooks market. Ebooks are among the easiest things to pirate. In fact, it is very easy to download zipped files containing thousands of digitized books. Ebook publishers are thus effectively—and successfully—competing with an abundant free supply of their goods.
Fortunately for books publishers, they have had several valuable case studies from which they could learn, namely the decade-long failed attempts of the music and movie industries to cope with the advent of the internet. After wasting gazillions on litigation and lobbying, these industries came to understand that the user does actually spend money on media when it is made easy.
In short, success of content business models depends on the user experience you offer your customers, not more or less strict copyright regulation. It also seems very hypocritical for content lobbyists to praise the copyright system when the market is doing well, and blame the same system when the market is not performing to their wishes.