Digital pirates illegally downloading millions of popular books, study finds
By Steven Levingston
More than nine million copies of popular books were illegally downloaded last year, according to a study released Thursday.
The study, conducted by the online monitoring and enforcement service Attributor, highlights the drain from piracy on publishers revenues and the need for more effective protections online for copy-righted material.
The report focuses on the illegal downloads of 913 popular titles in their digital format, finding that on average each titles was downloaded without payment about 10,000 times.
"This new study confirms that book piracy on the Internet has reached epidemic proportions," said Tom Allen, president and chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, in a statement. "Unchecked, that piracy will drain the creative energy of American publishing. Those 9 million pirated books should be a call-to-arms for policymakers, educators, and every reader who cares about the future of digital and printed books."
The study examined 14 categories to capture a representative sample of the industry, including business and investing, health, mind and body, fiction and reference. Business and investing titles suffered the highest number of illegal downloads, averaging 13,000 copies per title, with a potential loss of more than $1 million on each title, Attributor estimated. Popular fiction titles averaged about 6,000 illegal downloads each.
"Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, for example, was pirated 1,132 times from just one of the hosting sites. Attributor would not release total individual numbers. In fiction, "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown was pirated 8,177 times from one site.
The free downloads added up to a potential loss overall to the book publishing industry of $2.75 to $3 billion, the study said. Attributor, based in Redwood City, Calif., monitored piracy of the 913 titles at 25 file hosting sites including rapidshare.com, 4shared.com, esnips.com and scribd.com.
By Steven E. Levingston |
January 14, 2010; 11:24 AM ET
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