About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pirates Astern!

Courtesy of the Publishers Weekly daily e-mail on Thursday we find ourselves at a study from Attributor regarding illegal downloading of published works.

It's not certain that the study should be relied upon. Attributor is in the business of selling anti-piracy monitoring for content providers, and the more piracy they find the more they can justify their existence.

Following on a series of assumptions laid out in great detail, they think piracy is a $3B threat right now.

Well, that sounds a bit steep to me.

But none of us really know, and I'll put it out there with the aforementioned caveats.


Jim C. Hines said...

I exchanged a few e-mails with someone from Attributor yesterday after posting about this. He points out that the $3 billion figure might be inflated.

"Previous piracy studies assume a one-to-one substitution, meaning all pirated material would have been purchased and thus the market value of pirated books is equal to the actual loss, though Attributor feels this is an overly optimistic assumption. This issue will be addressed in a future research phase."

On the other hand, that disclaimer is a ways down on the page, unlike the dramatic $3 billion figure.

green_knight said...

My gut feeling is that the percentage of content that people would have bought instead of downloading it is around the 1-5% mark.

Some people are hoarders -they download thousands of files and never even look at them. Some people are opportunists - they download stuff in order to get around to it some day, which never happens.

That leaves the people who actually make use of the content - who read the book or watch the film. Of those, I still reckon that the largest part is looking for free or ultra-cheap content - they might read the supposedly $15 e-book, but if that wasn't available, they're more likely to borrow it from a friend/the library, download a freebie or read online or buy a $1 e-book... in other words, someone might lose out, but not the content owner.

I am against piracy because I'm against the principle, but I don't think that it hurts a fraction as much as people make out. On the other hand, DRM hurts sales - because the only electronic content I buy is content I can freely back up and refownload if necessary, no questions asked. (I buy a fair amount of 3D models, and buy most of them from the company with the best policy, not necessarily because their content is superior, but because dealing with them is such an uncomplicated pleasure. They even have a 30 day returns policy - you tell them you didn't like the model or couldn't get it to work, they trust you to delete it. And they're doing well. (Daz3D) On the other hand, I refuse to buy music from Amazon because they're such a pain to deal with.)