Posted on 2013-Jul-03
The concern about piracy will remain debatable as long as the content provider’s service and end user’s expectations cannot be met. The person who shares content illegally without permission of the owner can be referred as ‘pirates’. According to Wikipedia, piracy itself may have its ancestral root dated back in the history since the 14th century BC, but the controversial act of piracy in this article focuses on the copyright-infringing file sharing in the digital age.
Backlash against Digital Files Distribution
eBook sharing issue shares the same fate as a governing body of copyright protection is becoming less tolerant of such an activity. In China, for instance, is launching a stricter investigation against how Amazon and Apple filter illegal eBooks. According to a news article from Sina Tech, Apple’s App Store, Amazon, together with Tencent-a local internet service portal who launches the widely-known chat program, QQ Instant Messenger, are added to the list of 24 websites to be “supervised” against online privacy.
Amazon and Apple in China in Hot Water
What got Apple and Amazon involved in the list in the first place had something to do with the intricate nature of screening their third-party suppliers. While Amazon was the subject of doing nothing to prevent piracy by distributing illegal content on Amazon China, Apple’s mishandling of pirated content was even worse. Regarding the ongoing observation of The National Copyright Administration, 36 third-party sellers have been identified to sell pirated books. The administration demands that Amazon close their accounts and impose a stricter preventive measure against copyright infringement.
Every Coin Has Two Sides
The piracy concern in Russia tells another side of the same story. Russian readers prefer digital formats to print books; however, they are not likely to buy any goods digitally. Based on the infographic provided by Publishers Perspectives, it is a no-brainer that eBooks reign the book market and print books are less preferred for several reasons: readers have less time to buy the actual books (58%), find titles not found in bookstores (30%), and [want to] minimize clutter (28%). On the one hand, these explanations echo the advantages of eBooks that the digital readers fully embrace and endorse. On the other hand, the alarming 31% of readers do not want to spend on eBook purchase. This percentage leads to another shocking finding that 92% download their book from the internet for free whereas the slight 15% are willing to buy digital content from the authorized retailers online.
“Read Legally” Campaign
The governing body of Russia has done something to pacify piracy at least. “Read Legally” campaign is released as a commercial to raise awareness of how piracy robs the authors of their deserved earnings. Despite the astounding percentage of piracy, it seems this campaign alone does not suffice as the first sentence of this article posted by Publishing Perspectives states that the availability of legal content cannot meet the consumer’s demand. According to the study, 58% of the 50 bestselling comics are not available in digital formats.
“If You Bought It, You Own It”
Image Comics-a comics and graphic novels publisher formed since 1992, and they made the decision to get rid of DRM for readers to fully own the content. Initially presented by Wired, The Digital Reader tries to simplify the hype that the Wired writer enthuses to discuss. Image Comics sensibly addresses the issue as the indicator of content popularity. Stephensen says, “My stance on piracy is that piracy is bad for bad entertainment. There’s a pretty strong correlation with things that suck not being greatly pirated.” The limitation of distribution channels seems to limit the customers from discovering the desired content. Stephenson compares the pros and cons between the physical comics shops and radio stations. Without a doubt, one can already guess which sales channel can approach a wider group of potential customers. Ron Richards—its Director of Business Development—summarizes it wisely, “If you bought it [the downloadable comics], you own it.”
Flexibility to Adapt
Piracy is not dissolving anytime soon and we will live with it. Like it or not, illegal distribution of digital files will continue to exist among end users. The negative impact for the content provider and owner is that they will receive less share of income as they deserve and the sharer may earn some profits from this illicit action. As you can see from the video, authors are being robbed of their return of investment little by little. Still, the finding from Publishing Perspectives reminds us the root cause of piracy. Many publishers decide to change their copyright protection policy and, most importantly, adjust to their customer’s request.
Digital Content’s Worth
For what? At the end of the day, what matters is the content is made known to the public and delivered right to their doorstep for convenient usage. What prompts the publishers to make a decision seems to lie in their readiness to flexibly cater to the customers’ needs. It might be redundant to reinstate how significant digital publication is; what Image Comics has done demonstrates a forward-looking solution for their clients to provide what they want. Although their customers might intentionally and unintentionally opt to forward their files to their peers, they are deliverers of their content worthy of being discovered, referred to, and appreciated. Perhaps, one day they will ideally approach the right channel and help support those who work hard to make the content possible.
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