Digital Piracy Explodes with Growing Popularity of e-Books?

Lora Bentley

The Kindle e-book reader was's top-selling product this year, according to Northwest Innovation. The e-commerce jugggernaut also claims the e-reader is "the most gifted item" in the company's history. The plethora of e-readers also resulted in another record, according to For the first time, customers purchased more e-books on Christmas Day than physical books.


But, as writer Ian Paul notes:

I'm sure lots of people found a Kindle under the tree this year, and many of them probably took their new toy for a spin online to see how it worked and ended up buying a book. But how many people out there were looking to buy a traditional book versus the volume of Kindle shoppers on Friday? I'm guessing not that many.


Nonetheless, the plethora of e-readers now available has drastically increased e-book sales. Unfortunately, it has also led to increased e-book piracy, reports. For example, less than a day after Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol" was released in digital form, pirated copies were found on peer-to-peer sites, and within a few days, the story says, more than 100,000 copies had been pirated.


Like the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America before it, the Association of American Publishers is concerned. It's not just bestsellers like Brown whose work is being stolen, says the AAP's director of digital policy, Ed McCoyd:

Textbooks are frequently pirated, but so are many other categories. We see piracy of professional content, such as medical books and technical guides; we see a lot of general fiction and non-fiction. So it really runs the gamut.


The copyright laws apply to digital books just as they do other digital content. The problem lies in trying to enforce them where digital content is concerned. The MPAA and the RIAA have sued individual file sharers, blocked the operation of file sharing Web sites, and worked out deals with digital content providers like Apple's iTunes and Eventually, publishers and authors will have to do -- and some are already doing -- the same.


Though some authors and publishers are hesitant to dive into digital because they want to limit piracy of their work, the piece indicates the claims of damage resulting from piracy "may be overstated." Writer Matt Frisch says:

Recent statistics have shown that consumers who purchase an e-reader buy more books than those who stick with traditional bound volumes. Amazon reports that Kindle owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers.

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