Attributor Study Suggests Honey Subdues More Infringers Than Vinegar

Show of hands, please: how many of you believe that, given the opportunity to do the right thing, an unauthorized user will remove unauthorized files if you ask nicely?

Yes, we thought so.  But you pessimists are in for a surprise.

Attributor, the fast-rising piracy monitoring service about which we recently reported (see Attributor Badge Proclaims Your E-Book is Kosher) , has released an intriguing report on what it calls a Graduated Response Trial, though it might well be termed the Try A Little Tenderness Test.  While it was performed on newspapers, the implications for book piracy are apparent.

Attributor’s approach engages unlicensed content users in dialogue before resorting to formal takedown notices and even more draconian ways of making them remove illegally obtained content.  By educating infringers and reasoning with them instead of bombarding them with legal threats, Attributor was able to persuade 75 percent of the offending websites to alter their behavior.

A significant way to do that is to get them to work with you instead of against you  – that is, to make them revenue-sharing partners.  The study suggests “syndication models that compensate those who create valuable content, while appropriately rewarding those who aggregate, republish and monetize it.” It’s called FairShare and you can read about this cooperative model here. The principle is, better to take a safe fraction than risk getting into trouble.  For those taking advantage of the offer it’s found money.  Embrace rather than alienate, as one executive said to me.

Here are details from the trial:

  • Attributor identified more than 400,000 unlicensed full copies across 44,906 sites from 70,101 online news articles from newspapers spanning pay wall, ad-supported and syndication revenue models with local, national and international distribution.
  • A ‘full copy’ was defined as containing more than 80 percent of the original article and comprising more than 125 words.
  • The trial randomly selected 107 (3 times the statistically significant amount) sites which used 10 or more full copies from a single content owner during a 30-day period and had advertising on the pages with copies
  • Only the first two steps of the Graduated Response process were tested: (1) courtesy notices of unlicensed use sent to the site owner and (2) removal notices sent to the search engines to remove the listing from results and to ad networks to remove ads on the page of the copied content. The subsequent step: (3) removal notices to the hosting sites to remove the content was not part of the trial.
  • The results show that 75 percent of the unauthorized sites agreed to either pursue licensing agreements or remove content voluntarily within the first two steps.

You can read full details here.

Certainly friendly persuasion is not only virtuous but far less expensive, time-consuming and frustrating than carpet-bombing. You can hold drastic methods in reserve and employ them for intransigent infringers and professional criminals.

Still think people won’t do the right thing?  Attibutor’s study suggests they will.

Our approach? Try killing them with kindness. If that doesn’t work, just kill them.

Richard Curtis

For full coverage of all things pirate, visit our Pirate Central archive.


2 Responses to Attributor Study Suggests Honey Subdues More Infringers Than Vinegar

  1. Rowena Cherry says:

    Like this one…

    These people are making very good money from their activities. Do you seriously think they will stop if asked nicely?

  2. Rowena Cherry says:

    Attributor has a vested interest in piracy continuing. On the other hand, J K Rowling almost single-handedly changed the behavior of Scribd and –to some extent– of E-Bay.

    If James Patterson, Stephen King, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J R Ward, Christine Feehan, Janet Evanovich and Jayne Ann Krentz would stand shoulder to shoulder and speak out against piracy as it affects all authors, I think that would have a far greater impact.

    80% of readers are honest. 80% of readers have no idea what is going on. If they knew, I sincerely believe that they would despise the pirates, if they only knew.

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