Monday, February 21, 2011

From Music To Books: Piracy Threatens Professional Publishers

While piracy in the music industry is well documented and widespread, little attention has been given to its latest victim, professional books. The latest article in Simba Information's bi-monthly newsletter Professional Content Report, "Professional Book Piracy Thriving in Cyberspace," finds challenges in combating piracy and quantifying the potential revenue loss.

Currently moving onto an online platform, professional book publications, which generate $13.91 billion in revenue annually, are confronting mounting losses from digital piracy, the article finds. Several websites that publish textbooks and eBooks for free are profiting through subscriptions and advertising while maintaining immunity from copyright infringement, making these profiteers very difficult opponents.

"If piracy is next to impossible to fight, the question is how publishers should react to this situation," notes Dan Strempel, senior editor of Professional Content Report. "Do they treat piracy as part of the cost of doing business in the Internet age, or do they try and recoup piracy losses from paying customers by raising prices? It would be extremely challenging for publishers to do the latter, considering the economic pressures in the scholarly/professional system."

Quantifying the loss associated with this piracy remains a challenge. Findings suggest as much as $1.7 million in potential revenue is lost per title in the technical segment and about $1 million per title in the science segment. According to the article, progress is being made through trade associations and cooperation between publishers; however, there remains a greater need of public awareness, government resources and collective effort to effectively combat book piracy.

"Until someone puts the 'force' in international copyright enforcement, they might just have to learn to deal with it," notes Strempel.

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