Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Cost of Book Piracy

© Feng Yu - Fotolia.com
Given the increased popularity of E-books and digital copies of print material, the economics of digital reading has exploded. This means increased readership for authors, publishers, and agents representing their clients in the marketplace. All of this, eventually, translates into increased profits. A major factor that is disrupting the booming E-book industry is the prevalence of pirates and pirated material in the marketplace. This is particularly true given the lack of digital rights management (DRM) on digital books.

Specific Costs of Book Piracy

There are many aspects to this problem, only one of which is the time and effort that must be spent removing pirated books from websites that they are located on. The amount of money lost to this effort depends on the amount of money charged per hour by the individual performing the takedown notices. For freelance workers, this could be upwards of $100 an hour.

It is estimated that around 10% of the books currently being read in the United States are pirated texts. This has led to estimates and reports that the publishing industry (and the authors on whose behalf they work) has lost upwards of $3 billion. This includes potential lost sales based on the number of shared copies of books estimated to be in circulation at any given time. These losses trickle down from the publishers at the top of the industry down to the authors providing their work.

It is often difficult to assess exactly how much money is being lost to book piracy due to the fact that digital media is capable of being easily copied. This makes the economics of loss more difficult than it would be when determining loss of physical stock. Losing fifty books in a store is going to be a fixed cost. On the other hand, having fifty books copied and uploaded to sharing sites is a dynamic cost.

Copyright Law Fees

The cost of fighting book piracy is another aspect of the situation. Hiring a lawyer to help with a copyright issue can become an entire issue unto itself, but it usually starts with paying somewhere between $10 and $50 dollars for a paralegal at a given law firm to look over the facts of the case and decide whether it is worth pursuing.  If they do, the fees will vary depending on the exact nature of the claim, but usually run between $200 and $300 an hour. These fees can add up very quickly and make filing copyright claims almost impossible for most authors.