Curtis Agency, E-Reads Deploy Program to Neutralize Pirates

Photo: Wikipedia

Adopting advanced technology, Curtis Agency and E-Reads have teamed up to locate and take down pirated files of their authors’ books.

The system, developed by Muso TNT, protects against files uploaded by pirates to filesharing sites like rapidshare and megaupload. Files on these websites show up on Google search results and are therefore accessible to users who might otherwise purchase the files through legitimate channels.

The Size of the Problem

Though we have often contended that piracy is the number one threat to the e-book industry (see A Bootleg E-Book Bazaar Operates in Plain Sight), skeptics may not be aware of the extent of the problem. One company, torrentfreak, boasted that “The Internet is the largest copying machine ever invented,” and in 2011 ranked fiesharing sites according to traffic in the month of July 2011. The first figure represents unique monthly visitors, the second monthly page views:

1 4shared Cyberlocker 55,000,000/ 2,500,000,000
2 Megaupload Cyberlocker 37,000,000/ 400,000,000
3 Mediafire Cyberlocker 34,000,000 /330,000,000
4 Filestube Meta-search 34,000,000/ 280,000,000
5 Rapidshare Cyberlocker 23,000,000/ 280,000,000
6 The Pirate Bay Torrent index 23,000,000 /650,000,000
7 Fileserve Cyberlocker 19,000,000 /190,000,000
8 Hotfile Cyberlocker 16,000,000 /110,000,000
9 Torrentz.eu Meta-search 15,000,000/ 340,000,000
10 Depositfiles Cyberlocker 14,000,000/ 110,000,000

How Muso TNT Works.

Using the Muso technology, legitimate content providers authorize the antipiracy service to launch search engine “spiders” to crawl over the Internet and detect unauthorized files. A significant feature is that the search criterion is by author, not by title. As the spiders locate pirated files, they store the results on a password-protected login page for review.

Lawful Takedowns

The author, publisher or agent may view the files to confirm that they are not authorized. Then the user clicks authorization for Muso to issue, to fileshare site administrators, batch takedown emails that are preformatted to adhere to Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice and takedown procedures. Within hours the files are taken down automatically. In the event you send a takedown notice for a file to which you do not have the rights, the uploader has 14 days to dispute your action.

Results

We recently tested the program. “The results exceeded our wildest dreams,” says technical director Anthony Damasco. “On Friday afternoon we identified some 3500 illegally shared files of titles by our authors and ordered them removed. It took me 45 minutes. By Monday just about every one of them had been taken down.”

The program does not cover every type of piracy but filesharing is one of the most commonplace, widespread and persistent.

The two companies have begun taking down unauthorized files of clients and “We will also extend, at no charge, antipiracy coverage to all new clients of both firms,” said CEO Richard Curtis. Authors, agents and publishers interested in Muso’s services may enroll by signing up below. Enrollment with Muso is $15.00 per month per author. In the event that more take-downs are needed, Muso offers them at higher rates. Full disclosure: E-Reads receives a modest fee for referrals.

For further information contact Anthony Damasco at anthony@ereads.com or call 212 772 7363.

Click here to enroll with MUSO and start protecting your titles.

Instructions

1. Click signup and create an account

2. Select “Publishing” from the dropdown

3. When asked to create a campaign, enter author’s full name as it appear on his or her books

4. Allow the Muso bots to populate all the pirated files over 24 hours.

5. Login to Muso and start taking files down

For a complete archive of piracy-related postings, visit Pirate Central.

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59 Responses to Curtis Agency, E-Reads Deploy Program to Neutralize Pirates

  1. jap says:

    You are just wasting your money. Give me the title of any of your takedowned ebooks and I will give you a working pirate link to it.

    RIAA and MPAA have been doing it for years, unfruitfully.

    Not to mention p2p and IRC, of course.

  2. Jody Rein says:

    Richard,
    Seems, as always, very forward thinking and needed. Best of luck in fighting this good fight.

  3. @jap

    I agree that this isn’t a 100% solution to the problem, It is a start. This software gives Publishers, Agents, and Authors a means to fight back. I’m sure there are servers that Muso hasn’t picked up on yet, but the software will evolve.

    As far as p2p and IRC, I wouldn’t expect users getting books that way would pay for the book anyway. Also, IMO, most pirate newbies are scared to use p2p in case the gov. is watching. So then what you have left are the file upload websites. Muso is automated – file sharers might spend 30min – 1hr+ breaking files up and uploading, takes 3 seconds for me to take it down.

    Network admins have a responsibility to protect users within their network from viruses, spyware, and scams – in the same way I believe that Publishers / Agents have a responsibility to protect their authors from pirates. Muso is a good first step for that purpose.

  4. jap says:

    Anthony Damasco:

    It is not a start, it is a dead end. Pick any of your best-selling takedowned ebooks and search for a pirate copy. You will find it.

    Come on. Just try it.

  5. rowena cherry says:

    Thank you, Richard and Anthony. I plan to give it a try, and will probably recommend it to my friends.

    The point that jap may be missing is that the copyright owners most hurt by digital theft are not necessarily the best-selling authors.

  6. jap says:

    Nice to read you again, Rowena

    Anthony can try any midlist takedowned author and he will find a cyberlocker copy anyway.

    For years downloaders have been migrating from p2p to cyberlockers and RIAA/MPAA have been massively takedowning their works. Uploaders simply upload the file again.

  7. @jap

    First, we are still looking for files even after the take downs are finished, when we find them, we add file share domain to the pool that Muso scans. The software is fairly new and still evolving. I know we are basically playing “wack-a-mole” With files popping back up all over, but the damn moles would take over we stop swinging the hammer at them.

    Second, Once you take down the same file a number of times from a file-sharing website. The website will put a ban on the file.

    Third, Sending take-downs to the file servers is much cheaper for pirates then prosecution. They should take the hint and stop uploading.

    Personally, I think publishers should invest in The Enforcement Droid, Series 209 as seen here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-yvmuGSQJ8

    But I’m a sucker for killer robots, Muso seems to be the safer route for both authors and pirates :-p

  8. rowena cherry says:

    Hi, Jap.

    It’s a great pleasure to see you here, and I would like to take you up on your challenge, “Give me the title of any of your takedowned ebooks and I will give you a working pirate link to it.”

    I now have a Muso campaign for “Rowena Cherry”. My mass market paperback titles are “Forced Mate”, and “Insufficient Mating Material”, and “Knight’s Fork” but Muso works on author names.

    Muso is doing its thing quite efficiently as far as I can see. Can you prove that your piratical search skills are superior?

    I give you and Richard permission to post any pirate links you find to my works here for the sake of science and the advancement of knowledge.

  9. Authors, agents, and publishers are certainly well within their rights to try to get pirated files taken down. I wonder, though, just how many false positives a system like this is going to generate? I rather doubt you took the time to review every single one of those 3,500 files to make sure they were all the illegitimate files the search bot thought they were. Indeed, with the 45-minute claim, you seem to be pushing the idea that this can be done lightning-fast. And that reminds me of something Mitch Radcliffe once said: “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than almost any invention in history, with the possible exception of tequila and handguns.”

    If you’re sending 3,500 takedown notices in 45 minutes, how do you plan to avoid mistakes like the SFWA’s 2007 overly-broad takedown notice that ended up targeting things like Cory Doctorow’s explicitly-permission-granted e-books?

    http://www.teleread.com/copy-right/e-reads-and-curtis-agency-launch-anti-piracy-program/

  10. CHightshoe says:

    @Chris

    This system is different than what SFWA did – there they were acting on just finding the name mentioned and not looking at the link. Here the links are going to be provided to the copyright holder or author and they have to make the decision asto whether it something they authorized or not.

    If the same material that was over zealously pursued by SFWA in 2007 had been presented to the authors affected – Cory would have been able to step up and say that his work was authorized on that site.

  11. rowena cherry says:

    I think that jap would have won. Filestube has a bunch of my stuff, and Muso hasn’t detected it yet, but… one cannot expect Muso to be everywhere within 24 hours.

  12. Alan says:

    I got one! The metadata doesn’t include Rowena’s name.

    [Feel free to remove the url ASAP]

    URL deleted

    There’s also a torrent, but I expect you already knew that, and it’s not strictly what jap was saying.

    The technology doesn’t sound advanced to me. Actually, at a first hearing, it sounds insane. The idea shouldn’t be to run your _own_ spiders. The idea should be to check the sites people actually _use_, starting with Google and working down from there. No-one cares what _your_ spiders can find, because users don’t use _them_: they care about what shows up on Google, Filetubes, …

    If you implement it right, I agree it sounds sensible. You prevent horror stories – pirate results on Google above the legit ones – cut down on the visibility of the darknet – and provide a comfort blanket for authors.

    I don’t think it takes long to look at the first & last pages of an ebook to check that it’s what you think it is. If the technology downloads the file for you (i.e. skips the delay, advertising etc.), I can see that would be useful.

    Chris is right though, you’re clearly lying about one person being able to manually check at a rate of over one file per second. (Or to use the technical term: perjuring yourself). _Unless_ – are you counting duplicate files? That’d certainly be the way to go; you’d be able to give an instant reaction to people who re-upload exactly the same file. I’m not sure why the duplicate count would be so high as to justify that rate though.

    How much it helps to go beyond the first page of Google… I dunno. I don’t buy the O’Reilly argument that it’s _helpful_ to leave it up when you know it’s there. But equally, I don’t see the return in squashing things that only ever appear on page 10+ of the search results.

    I’ve tried to say this before – you need to think more about what you’re doing. In order to read the E-Reads books I’ve bought, I had to violate the E-Reads copyright. It’s completely irresponsible to sell digital goods to UK customers – or anyone who might travel to the UK – with “all rights reserved”, because _our law takes you at face value_. Never mind “format shifting”, I had to violate copyright in copying it to my e-reader! Her Majesty forbid I should have any sort of backup – no; whether I have 1 or 1000 purchased books, I should lose them all when my memory card stops working (_again_). And then sending the defective memory card for analysis at the manufacturers request – even worse! (It happened to be a purely mechanical fault, so I complied with the spirit of your license and threatened them into erasing the card for me … but imagine if the flaw was in the write-protect logic?) And this is the sort of paternalistic, one-way ratchet that squanders the good feeling of the majority.

    So when you extole the wickedness of “pirates”, that includes me, for simply buying and reading an E-Reads book. Equally, it probably puts you in violation of trades description/advertising law, for selling me a book that is e.g. legally unreadable using with the stock Sony software+reader. Personally, I rate commercial fraudsters as worse than personal pirates, but then I suppose we all have different priorities… like sounding “tough” over complying with national law.

    • @ Alan,

      A couple of responses.

      First, Google has stated in no uncertain terms that it will not take down links to pirate sites. See (Game Over. Google Insists on Linking to Pirate Sites http://ereads.com/2011/05/game-over-google-insists-on-linking-to-pirate-sites.html). So we cannot look to them to do the right thing by copyright owners.

      Second, in a number of cases the takedowns are of the same people putting files back up that we have taken down. We don’t count those as one, and why should we? But we figure that in time the filesharer will get tired of re-uploading and go pick on some softer target.

      England now has laws on the books pulling the plug on filesharers, so if you have a problem with the law take it up with Parliament.

      And sorry, Alan, we’re not lying. Since it would be inconvenient for you to sit in our office and watch it done, I suggest you watch for testimonials by authors and agents who have tried it. I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at how fast bots work. I have seen no skepticism that the leading filesharer generated 2.5 billion pageviews in one month.

      RC

  13. jap says:

    Rowena:

    I have found and successfully downloaded one of your books:

    http://www.filesonic.es/file/1596912414/Rowena_Cherry_-_Forced_Mate.pdf

    It seems the other two have never been uploaded to a cyberlocker. That is, I have not found them, nor working links neither broken ones.

    Filestube links are not the true books, but a kind of reviews of them.

  14. jap says:

    Anthony:

    Have fun playing wack-a-mole, but moles always win.

    It is not possible to ban “the file”. Think about it. Next time “the file” will be slightly different, or it will be encrypted.

    A lot of people should do a lot of things, but this is not how the world works. Uploaders upload again, that’s the reality.

    LOL, it seems the developers coffee machine was broken that day.

  15. rowena cherry says:

    @jap,

    Thank you very much, jap. My hat is off to you for your efficiency. You win. Muso has not found that one yet. I think that it would be sporting to wait and see how long it takes for them to find it.

    May I ask you, was there cover art? If so, was it a girl (the version illegally created by Dorchester in violation of my rights and in breach of my contract with them) or was it the version with a hunk on the cover?

  16. rowena cherry says:

    @jap,

    I have a question for you about those “5 Star Reviews”, if you are game.

    I’ve heard a rumor that those things are spurious reviews written by an alleged Amazon affiliate, and they contain links to paperbacks for sale on Amazon.

    Presumably, the alleged affiliate is paid by Amazon for every click-through, because I cannot imagine that any free e-book seeking pirate would allow themselves to be tricked by a phony review into purchasing a paperback.

    Surely, no one in their right mind would buy a book on the basis of a review posted on file-sharing sites, particularly if the reviewer appears to be an Amazon shill!

    Why do pirates tolerate scams like this? Are you all amused by the cheek of this alleged affiliate?

    Or have I missed something? Do the links in fact go to hidden files on Amazon?

    Thanks again.

  17. rowena cherry says:

    @ Alan,

    Pity that url you found was deleted. Was it the same one that jap shared?

    I daresay you know what British pirates are doing, don’t you? In England, it is not illegal to send DVDs of illegal copies of ebooks through the Royal Mail, so the pirates are burning entire libraries of thousands of Romance ebooks, science fiction ebooks, 2010 best-sellers etc etc from 4shared onto CDs, and selling them for pence on EBAY uk.

    EBAY doesn’t have the will or the infrastructure to stop it.

  18. jap says:

    Rowena:

    A handsome man on cover.

    Yes, it seems those reviews are from a nasty scammer. However it is an Amazon problem, not yours neither mine. They are trying to get their money.

  19. rowena cherry says:

    @jap,

    Interesting. The “handsome man” version isn’t available on Amazon, except as a used Trade-sized Paperback. Is Amazon subsidizing second hand book sales? Why? How much of a cut can Amazon possibly get?

  20. jap says:

    Rowena:

    No, the “handsome man” version is what I downloaded. The “reviewed” (linked by the scammer) version at Amazon has a girl on cover, and is from Dorchester Publishing.

  21. Alan says:

    Thanks for a civil response to a somewhat over-heated comment!

    > ~we don’t trust Google to respect takedown notices

    I didn’t mean to suggest that you send takedown notices to Google. I was probably reading too much into something that wasn’t intended as a precise technical description. My point is that if you crawl the web yourself, you’re effectively running your own (private!) pirate search engine. But pirates don’t use _your_ search engine.

    In all likelihood, they either use Google, or one of a few searches like FilesTube. (And Scribd site search?). It’s not just about efficiency and comprehensiveness; it also helps you prioritize. It’s more important to take down files that show up on the first page of an innocent Google search.

    > ~we do count re-posts of the same file

    Yes, I don’t think that’s dishonest or anything. (Obviously it _could_ be a mistake to use that figure in the wrong context, but that’s true of anything).

    > The author, publisher or agent may view the files to confirm that they are not authorized…

    > On Friday afternoon we identified some 3500 illegally shared files of titles by our authors and ordered them removed. It took me 45 minutes…

    > I’m not sure why anyone is surprised at how fast bots work.

    I think we’re having a classic failure of communication :).

    To be clear, what I’m surprised at is that a single operator is able to “identify” files as being your copyrighted works at (very roughly) a rate of 1 per second.

    Possibilities -
    – There’s a second-stage automatic check on the file content, that wasn’t mentioned.
    – You’re including 10′s of duplicates for every file – the technology automatically applies your decision to all the duplicates.
    – I’m reading more precision than was intended; you’d already spent hours reviewing the files manually.
    – You’re not sending formal DMCA notices in the first instance.
    – Or you’re sending formal DMCA notices based on little more than the author name, running the risk of e.g. sending takedowns for other authors with the same name. If you send a DMCA notice for a file you don’t own the copyright for, you’re potentially liable for perjury.

    That last one is what I (and I think Chris Meadows) are puzzled by. If the answer is option 1, then great!

    > if you have a problem with the law take it up with Parliament

    Um.

    You’re right that my anger is caused mainly by UK law, which lacks the US concept of “fair use”. That’s what makes it legal to copy CDs to your iPod in the US, and illegal in the UK. (The latest UK report said they needed to fix it; hopefully they’re listening).

    So in the US, the copyright statement in “Anvil of Stars” from fictionwise:

    “Making copies of this work [...] by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.”

    is a just a lie. (Which is unlikely to be criminal: people lie about the strength of copyright all the time).

    You might think that makes it OK; I don’t. If the product is to be used in a certain way – e.g., added to the Sony Library software, and COPIED to the Sony Reader – I think it’s irresponsible to sell me an international license that excludes that use, and then rely on exceptions in national law and customers’ knowledge thereof.

    That’s what the UK government copyright service advises copyright-holders to do.

    http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p03_copyright_notices

    Since the copyright statement refers to international law, why does it apparently assume US-specific fair use exceptions?

    There’s a self-published author who’s well known for being, if anything, stronger in his opinions about copyright and it’s violation than yourself. Personally, I think he’s completely misguided. But his respect for copyright leads to something I have nothing but respect for -

    Evoguía e-Book edition is copyright © Steven Lyle Jordan. All rights reserved. This ebook edition is intended for private use only. Purchaser is authorized to shift the novel to alternative ebook formats in order to facilitate its use by the purchaser. Purchaser is not authorized to reproduce or redistribute this novel to others. Please do not redistribute or resell this novel, or copies of it, without the express permission of the copyright owner. Any interested parties should be directed to http://www.RightBrane.com to obtain copies for themselves.

    (I wouldn’t necessarily use it as a starting point. In practical terms, the book doesn’t include the traditional “Copyright (c) 20XX by Name”, which may still be useful in some countries. And I think most people say “personal use”; “private use” is probably fine but the literal implications are a bit funny).

  22. Alan says:

    @rowena

    Ah, my intention was that the URL could be deleted _after_ you’d seen it :). Let’s see… no, the one I found was on h*tf*le.

    The filename was “forced_mates.pdf”. It’s currently the first result for that on Google, if you include the speech marks.

  23. Alan says:

    > In England, it is not illegal to send DVDs of illegal copies of ebooks through the Royal Mail

    I was vaguely aware of the activity. (And I came across your blog post while searching). I didn’t realise it was bigger in the UK than elsewhere.

    I guess you mean they’re not strictly _illegal_ copies, in the sense that it’s a civil offence, and you’d have to prosecute it yourself. Ugh.

  24. rowena cherry says:

    Muso has now located the filesonic file.

  25. rowena cherry says:

    Good gracious! Within two minutes of my click to authorize Muso to takedown the file, it was gone from Filesonic while I literally watched.

    I am impressed, especially since a couple of days ago, a friend of mine became aware that the so-called “Freebie” pirate enterprise were “sharing” one of her books on Filesonic, and they are still sharing it via a Filesonic link today.

    Harlequin ought to try Muso!

  26. rowena cherry says:

    @ Alan,

    Thank you for the “warm” link to my title.

    I cannot positively state that selling 16,000 (or any number in the multiples of thousands) ebooks is more prevalent in the UK. It seems that way to me.

    The copies are illegal/copyright infringing, but EBay copyright infringers ignore letters from attorneys, summonses, etc. It is easy to spend five thousand pounds on UK-based solicitors and get nothing more than an EBay refund of the purchase price of the proof. That is not what I would call “satisfaction”.

  27. rowena cherry says:

    @ Alan,

    I think “forced_mates” (plural) is something else entirely. Mine is a chess-position title. Did you download it? Google appears to suggest that “forced_mates” is fanfic involving exotic animals.

  28. @jap

    by your logic if someone steals from a book store, we should let them. “we shouldn’t provide security because people are going try and steal anyway. “

  29. jap says:

    Anthony:

    I am just saying you that takedowning doesn’t work.

    About logic: it is your logic, not mine. My logic says that, if there is a difference between 2 things, then the 2 things are not the same one.

    If I steal a printed copy of Forced Mate from Rowena’s home, she has lost a book. When I downloaded Forced Mate, she didn’t lose anything. That’s a difference, so downloading and stealing are not the same thing.

    Of course, you can argue that I was not going to buy her book anyway. Note that this is a far common case. In many cases downloaders were not going to buy the work, because of price or whatever reason.

    However there is this difference even in case the downloader was going to buy the work. You can say there is a lost revenue in this case, but losing a future revenue is not the same that losing a previously owned thing.

    Do the maths. If one million people download Rowena books, may be (or may be not) she has to look for a new job. If one million people enter at Rowena’s home and they take whatever they find there, her home will be empty far soon.

    Talking about logic is amazing, but this doesn’t solve your problem. You have a business. Takedowning doesn’t work. Try things that do work to increase your sales.

    Afortunately you can forget piracy because you live in a universe where downloading is not the same that stealing. If you were right, if both things were the same, your business would be so plain dead as a Series 209 droid acquired target.

  30. Tom Williams says:

    As a writer I think pirates of any kind should be hung just like in the old days!!! If you didn’t create it and you don’t legally own it then it is in fact pirating. Hang all pirates from the highest tree!!!!! Nothing to debate

  31. Alan says:

    @rowena: did you include the “.pdf”? Fan-fic tends not to be published as pdf files.

    I didn’t get a direct link to h*tf*le; it was a link through one of these file search engines. The download worked fine, and I got as far as finding your name, mentions of chess, and the chess painting.

    I can re-post the URL, or email it to you if you give me an address, or whatever!

  32. Alan says:

    @Rowena: Like I said, ugh. You’d think you’d be able to get the sales figures from EBay. And you can’t run a sellers account without having some sort of bank account, so you’d think the court would ask the bank where to send the bailiffs to collect the damages…

    Looks like one difference with the US would be the level of damages – UK cases have to give solid evidence for more intangible damages like to reputation; you don’t get anything like the automatic multipliers in the US system.

  33. rowena cherry says:

    @ Alan,
    MUSO has located http://hotfile.com/dl/117918998/c6abdca/forced_mates.pdf.html (in fact, they did so last night) so I infer that my name must have been associated with it.
    Is that the one you mean?

    I did see a search engine that appears to be dedicated entirely to helping the world to find downloadable files. Shocking.

  34. rowena cherry says:

    OK, Alan. That was indeed an old version that I would never have taken seriously because of the change in the title and what Google posted about fan fic and tigers.

    Do digital crooks often do that?

  35. rowena cherry says:

    @ jap,

    Losing future revenue is a very serious matter, particularly when the loss is exponential. Do you have any kind of savings? Do you have an employer sponsored pension (such as a 401K plan) or an individual retirement account? (IRA).

    Pension plans are future revenue.
    Copyright is an author’s pension plan.

    <>

    When you create extra copies of an authors’ books you lower the value of the authorized copies. You devalue the originals.

    With the greatest respect to you, the effect of what your ilk do could be compared to a public company that creates and issues thousands of extra shares of stock in that company without giving extra new shares to the shareholders of the original stock. The value of the original shares is diluted.

    Except, of course, the public company owns its own stock and has a theoretical right to screw its investors. Pirates are more like a rival company flooding the market with bogus e-certificates of their rivals’ stock.

    “Downloading” is the act of making a perfect copy that you didn’t pay for, and that you don’t have the rights for. So is forgery. Most forgers don’t simply make a copy and hide it. They pass it off as the real thing, and try to make money off it.

    People who “share” copyrighted works that they didn’t write/perform/create themselves are more like forgers than thieves. The “hosting” sites know what the likely effect of their business plan is. They are exploiting a loophole in the law and making the most of an opportunity to make money.

    They are like pawn shops that post large signs saying “We don’t buy stolen books. Don’t sell us stuff you don’t legally own. If we find out that you have sold us books you didn’t write, we may reserve the right not to do business with you in future. But, it is the real writer’s responsibility to discover that their property is in our shop, and it is the real author’s responsibility to prove that they wrote it and to ask us very nicely to stop fencing it. And, unless and until they do that, we’ll pay you commissions on the money we make.”

    Jap, you mention price as an excuse for digital copyright infringement. This goes to my point about how piracy hurts mid-list and debut authors. People on file “sharing” sites don’t discriminate. They don’t **only** download e-books that major publishers sell for the same price as a hardback. They download e-books that they could have purchased legally for less than $3.00.

    Most authors probably, secretly (and I don’t speak for anyone but myself) would not mind very much if pirates uploaded and downloaded a sample read… just one book in a published series. That is the Baen model, as I understand it.

    The problem is when pirates upload and download the **only** book that author has written, or when they upload and download **every** book an author has written before he/she has a chance to even break even on the costs of writing a book and bringing it to market.

  36. jap says:

    Rowena:

    I agree, losing future revenue is a serious matter. I can understand why content industry is concerned. However I also believe content industry is suffering a kind of mental disease, an overdose of concerning.

    I don’t agree copyright is author’s pension plan. You are getting money from copyright just now, so it is not a pension plan. As everybody you can suscribe a pension plan if you want to do so.

    I also disagree your metaphor of stock shares. Say there is a publisher who is going to release a new book. He has 2 options, he can bet the book will be a best-seller so the first print run will be of 100,000 copies, or he can bet it will be a mild success, so the run will be of 10,000.

    No matter what he chooses, neither if he is right or wrong. The value of the book is the same, a $27 book anyway. Book value doesn’t dilute if more copies are printed.

    Of course piracy is not a forgery. I downloaded a true copy of Forced Mate by Rowena Cherry.

    I didn’t mention price as an excuse, but as a reason or cause. Of course not always price is the reason or cause of downloading.

    Amazon Kindle Store, B&N Nook Store, J.A. Konrath, Amanda Hocking, John Locke, Dan Brown… all of them have proven it is possible to earn a lot of money in this arch-pirated market known as Internet.

    When you set a price you are trying to maximize your income. There are people who would pay more than the price you set, also there are people who will not pay your price. Some of the later will download your book. So what? They will not buy the book at your price, so you are not losing sales anyway.

    Is price affected by piracy? I don’t think so. John Locke has not set a price of 99 cents for his ebooks because of piracy. Konrath didn’t lower the price of one of his books (from 2.99 to 0.99) because of piracy. Both did it to maximize their income, with great success BTW.

    You need to understand the basic economics of an arch-pirated market because Internet is one of the markets where you are. Moreover, may be this arch-pirated marked is the only one you will be in the future, if printed market ultimately sinks.

    Internet market doesn’t work as you think. You are not losing sales from the cheap guys. In fact, if you are losing sales, lost money is from downloaders who find your price is fair. Bad marketing? A failure of retail? Did you pick a wrong price? (a price that doesn’t maximize your income).

    An article you should read:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110831/02402915749/if-tv-companies-released-authorized-torrents-with-ads-would-people-download-them.shtml

  37. Jake Lansdowne says:

    Jap,

    I was interested to see where your train of thought was going, but shouldn’t have been, your argument seems strangely very haughty but without substance.

    Rowena hits the nail on the head in her latest post – supply and demand. The internet is a great distribution centre and creating value in something ultimately means creating demand. Creating demand creates value, if the ‘something’ is restricted. In a (real world) shop for instance the restriction is the price, the staff, the morality attached to paying for something. The internet has led to an online shop which ultimately has no restriction, and subsequently, no morality. Most people I know who pirate material at least have the honesty to admit its wrong.

    Kudos to Rowena and all the publishers of this world who’s works enrich our life and who are simply attempting to create a restriction on their IP again (as they have every right to do) in order to make an honest living. Ultimately lets hope everyone comes to their senses one day and wants to support our creatives once again, otherwise the future will be a less enriched place for a cross-section of creatives.

    Best, Jake

  38. rowena cherry says:

    @jap,

    You make some points that go to the heart of why I am delighted that MUSO exists, and that MUSO searches by author name. That means that I only need to purchase two Muso subscriptions instead of five.

    Now, you told me that you had downloaded “a true copy of Forced Mate by Rowena Cherry” from Filesonic (http://www.filesonic.es/file/1596912414/Rowena_Cherry_-_Forced_Mate.pdf). You also said that there was a handsome man on the cover.

    How do you know that you downloaded a true copy? The version of Forced Mate with a handsome man on the cover was authored by Rowena Beaumont Cherry.

    Someone changed the author name in the url. How do you know that they didn’t mess with something else? Thanks to Muso, it doesn’t matter to me. It will be brought to my attention, and taken down at my request.

    Is an illegal copy by definition “a true” copy? Why is an illegal copy not a forgery?

  39. rowena cherry says:

    Muso has drawn my attention to illegal copies of my works that are not “true” copies. Cover art has been stripped. Front matter has been stripped. My name has been altered. My title has been altered. The copies may be .rar or .lit or .html That’s not original.

    How do I know…? Maybe there’s advertising, or malicious code, or stupid spell check changes in the version you downloaded.

    Now, it seems to me that one of us does not understand how publishing works. I think copyright is like a pension plan because I’m told that whenever an author releases a new book, the previous books (aka the backlist) also sell.

    I’m also told that anyone who owns a physical copy of a book that goes out of print (not out of copyright, mind you) can sell their rare item for a good mark up. Someone on Amazon is selling a physical, legal copy of one of my paperback books for $44.00 Good luck to them. (It’s not, in my opinion, worth that.. but hey!)

  40. jap says:

    That’s right, the copy on my hard disk has your full name on cover and on second page (authorship and copyright).

    IMHO you miss the point. “Mark Twain” and “Twain, Mark” are the same writer, whose real name is not Mark Twain. “Huck Finn” is one of his books. No matter if it is in epub or pdf instead of 19th century paper. No matter if a lawful but unauthorized 21th century publisher added a cover (and some typos) or an uploader later removed it (but not the typos).

    I am far sure that on my hard disk is the real thing. I am also completely sure there are OCR errors even if I have not read it, but I don’t care. Nobody cares.

    Not exactly. One of us doesn’t understand how an arch-pirated market works. I am far sure you know far better than me the paper market, but your counter-example is an out-of-print paperback. Just try to find an out-of-print ebook at Amazon or Hotfile.

    Think about it. If Internet piracy is causing all those huge losses you think they are real, why didn’t Kindle Store close 4 years ago? Why did John Locke the novelist become a rich man in just a few months?

    Something is failing in your theory (or conception) of how Internet market works. You can not explain why I am a happy pirate and an equally happy Kindle Store customer. You can not explain why all the gigas of all the iPods of the wide world far largely exceed the size of all de songs ever sold at iTunes. If iPod owners are massively pirating music, why the hell are they buying songs at iTunes?

    There is not such thing as “diluted value” in Internet arch-pirated marked. Almost all of your “lost sales” are imaginary. The real lost sales (far less than you think) can be gained just selling your ebooks the right way.

  41. jap says:

    Jake:

    Okay, let’s apply your recipe. Say I write a book, an excellent one. There is a lot of demand for my book, so to create a lot of value I severely restrict access to the book. In a far secure server, I offer just one copy for one million dollars. A sole copy, I am going to sell just one. The buyer will be the only owner of the only copy of my book.

    Of course, this way it is easy to avoid piracy. Would this business model work? No, nobody would buy the book. Why? Because your economic theory is a nonsense from beginning to end.

    Suply and demand law is a well known law of economics. A bit of information about it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand

    “By its very nature, conceptualizing a supply curve requires that the firm be a perfect competitor—that is, that the firm has no influence over the market price.”

    The above is just the contrary of copyright. Do you want suply and demand rule the digital market? Then you must abolish copyright.

  42. Jake Lansdowne says:

    Jap, that’s not my recipe. My recepe is giving rights holders fair value for their product. That’s my economic theory, which has been proven to work for the last several hundred years for physical distribution. Why does that not apply to the internet? Just because its now a million times easier and faster to copy a product.

    If you read back what you’ve written you’ll see its wrong, the quoted text has no bearing on copyright, only market price and competition in that market. You are being selective and abstract in your argument, if you looked closer on that wikipedia page you would have notice, in the headline, point 3.

    “If supply increases and demand remains unchanged, then it leads to lower equilibrium price and higher quantity.”

    if supply is unlimited, as with pirated material, price is ultimately free. Its devalued.

    Can you summerise your argument in a single paragraph please? Like…

    Rights holders should have the right to create demand and sell their product, without that supply chain being altered by others. Simple?

    If you are going to argue again about digital copies being copies etc etc, then count me out.

  43. rowena cherry says:

    @ Jake,

    Thank you for the kind words.

  44. rowena cherry says:

    @ jap,

    You retort, “If Internet piracy is causing all those huge losses you think they are real, why didn’t Kindle Store close 4 years ago?”

    Pardon my snark, but 4 years ago the Kindle Store (IMHO) probably existed primarily to promote sales of The Kindle.

    E-books were necessary as content. Many were sold cheaply or given away and at the time, Amazon “ate” the loss on their loss-leaders. However, I very much doubt that Amazon cared overmuch (at that time) where the content came from as long as Kindles sold.

    @ jap

    You ask: “If iPod owners are massively pirating music, why the hell are they buying songs at iTunes?”

    First of all, I believe that a good 70% of the online populace is honest and well-intentioned. In all probability, the majority of e-book or digital music purchasers are not “pirates” at all. That is going to skew your argument.

    For those who are pirates, I suppose that someone has to buy a new song legally before it can be illegally shared.
    :-)

  45. jap says:

    Jake:

    Piracy doesn’t destroy copyright. Ask Apple and Amazon, they are paying millions to copyright holders.

    No bearing on copyright? Are you arguing that copyright holders have no influence over the market price of their works? A copyright holder is the guy who says which is the market price.

    What you call suply is also unlimited on Amazon. Anyway, there is something basically wrong mixing suply and demand law with a law enforced monopoly.

  46. jap says:

    Rowena:

    May be (or may be not) you are right about Kindle Store 4 years ago. But, 3 years ago? 2 years ago? Last month? Why didn’t Kindle Store close a month ago?

    Buyers (and sellers) are not honest and well-intentioned. There is not a market of honesty. When someone buys something he is not thinking about honesty, but trying to satisfy his own self-interest. If he gives money for altruism, it is called donation, not a sale.

    You are saying there are huge losses in an arch-pirated market that is exploding of wealth. I am saying this arch-pirated market can explode because such losses are not real (except in some limited cases, mostly because sellers are still learning to sell in Internet).

  47. rowena cherry says:

    @ jap,

    Your comments addressed to Jake are interesting. Are you using copyright holder as synonymous with copyright owner?

    The author is the copyright owner. Authors usually license their works to publishers. Authors then receive a “royalty” based on legal sales.

    @ Richard, can you help explain the Amazon model and Amazon-Agency model?

    If a book is sold for $10 using the “agency model” where the publisher (not the copyright owner) sets the price, then Amazon keeps $6.50 and the publisher is paid $3.50. The author then receives 15% of $3.50 unless there is an agent to pay.

    If a book is sold for $9.99 using Amazon’s model, the publisher receives 70%, but Amazon is allowed to enable sharing/lending and has the right to adjust the price if Amazon’s bots find that book being sold anywhere else for less.

    Whatever the maths, authors have no influence over the price unless they are self-published.

    Amazon and Apple generally do not pay millions directly to authors.

  48. jap says:

    Rowena:

    Copyright holder is a far common term. I don’t understand which is the problem.

    Amazon can not choose if a book is sold using agency model or Amazon model. Copyright holder chooses it. Of course, a copyright holder can give Amazon the power of setting the price. This doesn’t alter the fact that the power of setting the price belongs to copyright holder.

    Without copyright (say England before 1710) there is a market price set by suply and demand. With copyright, copyright holder sets the price (or allows others to set the price). This is the only price, and the concept of market price (a price set by all the market players) becomes a nonsense.

    With copyright, if you want to talk about market price, you must go to for-profit piracy. No legal retailer is selling at market price. Even John Locke’s cheap books (99 cents) are not sold at market price, but at a much higher price.

  49. rowena cherry says:

    @ jap,

    There is no problem. I wanted to be certain that I understood you. Now, I do. I think that you are mistaken.

    https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A29FL26OKE7R7B

    If the book is given away on any other outlet, Amazon apparently reserves the right to give it away also, and not pay me any royalties.

    Also, this passage on Amazon suggests that Amazon does reserve the right to set prices on some books and also to convert prices according to an exchange rate of their choosing.
    —————-

    5.3.2 Customer Prices. To the extent permissible under applicable local laws, we have sole and complete discretion to set the retail price at which your Digital Books are sold through the Program.
    —————–

    All the best,
    Rowena.

  50. jap says:

    Rowena:

    Kindle DP provisions are just to be sure Amazon can match the price if you sell your ebook at a lower price at other retailers. This includes zero price (giving away).

    The passage you quoted doesn’t belong to Kindle DP provisions. May be is it from Amazon model?

    Best regards

  51. rowena cherry says:

    Filesonic has something called Rowena Cherry which Muso has missed for the last couple of days.

  52. rowena cherry says:

    @jap,

    kdp (see the url that I quoted) is short for Kindle Digital Publishing.

    If you don’t see it, could it be because you are looking as a reader, and I am looking as an author?

  53. rowena cherry says:

    This particular worm is beginning to turn. I’ve had a week of zero results from Muso.

    However, filesonic.com either has it, or never took it down

    http://www.filesonic.com/file/1826238614/Rowena

  54. Steve Boyett says:

    Rowena–
    By arguing that copyright is a writer’s pension plan, you have basically brought a flintlock to a machine-gun battle. Copyright law as it currently stands is inadequate, archaic, vague, inapplicable, misconstrued, unenforceable, and often misapplied. Contemporary copyright law came into being because of technology, and requires fundamental change for the same reason.

    You don’t have to like @jap, and you can take a moral high ground against him all you want, but it can’t be denied that that there is no stopping him, that there are millions of him, and that any successful business model is going to have to take him into account.

    Outmoded and increasingly irrelevant law won’t save you from him. Offering him something he *wants* to buy will save you from him. It’s been demonstrated many times now that pirates overwhelmingly also purchase more media than the average consumer.

    You think they are stealing from you. When an author who sells 30,000 copies of a paperback sees tens of thousands of downloads of one of her books, she sees lost revenue. What she doesn’t see is that she has never, was never going to, sell that many copies.

    Undoubtedly some of them do represent lost sales. Just as undoubtedly, some of them represent new readers who will buy her commercially available novels. Hundreds, if not thousands, of writers who simultaneously offer free and paid versions of their books (or different books for free alongside retail books) prove this every day.

    The business model is changing. Fight all you you want. Insist that you’re right all you want. But adapt or die.

  55. rowena cherry says:

    I’ve discovered a flaw in the MUSO service. They don’t monitor for-subscription pirate sites.

    Customer service writes, “We’re not currently supporting nakido because it requires users to pay for an account before any files can be downloaded, and we currently only support the one-click download sites (as these are far more popular)”.

  56. rowena cherry says:

    Steve,

    Re: “adapt or die”, I knew at least one pirated author who did die in abject poverty because both publishers and pirates ripped her off.

    You don’t see the human cost of piracy.

    Sooner or later, “adapt” will mean that more and more mid-list authors turn their talents and intellect to more lucrative ventures.

  57. The Rodent says:

    Ultimately, however, this sounds like just another arms race. Microbes versus antibiotics in an ever escalating spiral. The only real solution to piracy is changing social behavior.

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