Did you know that 24% of book consumers download them illegally? Other media is no exception, either: piracy accounts for 33% of movie consumption, 31% of music, and 12% of video games.
We have all become aware of the sophisticated business model used in the piracy of movies and TV series, but the piracy of books, magazines, digital newspapers and audiobooks is also widespread.
New titles are most affected within the first year of their publication, as first year publications account for 42% of total book piracy, while 34% corresponds to titles released within the prior 2 to 3 years, and another 24% corresponds to titles that have been on the market for over 3 years.
The reality is that piracy affects all forms of online publications:
- Books or e-books (academic, technical, fiction, graphic novels and comics, etc.)
- Magazines and digital newspapers
Piracy not only causes direct losses to companies operating in the industry, but pirates also take advantage of publishers’ brand recognition, especially in the case of magazines, using their trade names for unauthorized purposes to seek a profit. However, piracy cannot be fully understood without considering and analyzing the people who consume digitally pirated goods.
What is digital copyright infringement piracy, and who is its audience?
The figures reveal a scenario in which piracy is commonplace, targeting new digital media from the time it is born. Broadly speaking, “piracy” refers to the copying or unauthorized use of copyrighted material.
Currently, it is not uncommon for someone to comment that they’ve downloaded a book from the internet, leaving us with a poor impression as we fear the worst, as the first thing that pops into mind is that it is an illegal copy. And we would not be far off in so surmising: according to the 2018 Piracy Observatory conducted by GFK, 24% of Internet users download digital books from illegal online platforms.
We are living in a time when a significant segment of the population considers free and open access to digital content to be the norm without considering the legality of doing so. It goes without saying that a great deal of groundwork in raising public awareness remains. One might think that it is younger people who most consume pirated books. On the contrary, most users of illegal books in the United States are aged between 30 and 44 (47%), in line with the figures for all consumers of e-books, whose major demographic ranges from 25 to 44 years of age (59%).
The question is, why do people download books illegally? When someone downloads an illegal publication, they may principally do so because it is free (51%), but other motives also come into play, such as comfort or ease in downloading (58%), or lack of availability of the e-book in online stores (38%).
Not only is the portion of Internet users downloading e-books illegally quite high, but so is the frequency with which they do so, as 31% download on a weekly basis. We can state, therefore, that consumers of pirated content do so regularly, a view that is confirmed by a new trend in pirate content distribution: via private groups set up on social networks.
A new practice among pirates: sharing among private groups on social networks
The evolution of technology in recent years has led to the gradual abandonment of physical media and the rapid emergence of a digital universe in a new economy in which digital publications are on the rise and new business models based on online shopping and subscription services are emerging, making it easier to find and consume illegal content.
With the advent of the internet, the way in which we consume books, newspapers and digital magazines has changed, leading to a crisis in the traditional print publishing business model, with a reduction in sales of printed books, newspapers and magazines and the closure of physical libraries and kiosks.
The digital market, on the other hand, is expanding, and will continue to do so in the coming years. It has been projected that the user base for digital publications will increase over the next few years, reaching the figure of 1,119 million readers in 2023, with people aged between 25 and 34 being the main consumers of electronic books, representing a projected growth of 35% between 2017 to 2023.
What are the effects of piracy and how can it be fought?
The piracy of books, magazines, newspapers and audiobooks is a problem that negatively impacts the content creation industry in numerous ways:
- Damage to the brand and image of the publisher, title in question, and author
- A decrease in potential sales
- A decrease in industry employment
- A reduction in the taxes paid to public administrations to support literature and the arts
According to the 2018 Piracy Observatory, the opportunity cost (lost income) represented by book piracy was estimated to be some 203 million euros (96 million euros in online publications and 107 million euros with respect to e-books accessed on hardware).
Being aware of the problem of piracy is the first step in finding the solution, but concrete measures are needed that, in addition, can keep pace with the technological advances that characterize today’s world.
Legislation is one necessary tool for copyright protection, but it is neither enough nor responsive enough in the short term. Current regulations for combating digital piracy have recently been strengthened with the approval of a new European Parliament directive on copyrights. Without doubt, this is a positive development, but the truth is that pirates always find a way to continue sharing content illegally, since their income depends on it.
Technology, however, can be an effective and direct means for offering immediate protection for online editorial content. How does it work? Smart Publishing Protection combines machine learning technology with a team of expert security analysts to achieve an efficiency ratio of over 95% in the removal and takedown of online pirated content.
Using our technological platform, we provide protection for roughly 25,000 online publications. This work is performed in three phases:
1. Detection. The internet is crawled for pirated copies of protected content on websites, social networks, apps and search engines using our technological platform, which employs machine learning algorithms.
2. Analysis. The links found are sent through a filter to identify those that are in fact illegal and should therefore be taken down.
3. Removal. Links to illegal copies are de-indexed from Google search or directly removed from the platforms that host or promote them. Smart Publishing Protection is certified by Google’s TCRP (Trusted Copyright Removal Program), allowing us to de-index URLs in the shortest possible time. To date, we have de-indexed more than 10 million URLs. In addition, we have agreements in place with the major social media networks in order to fight piracy effectively.
Piracy affecting books, newspapers, digital magazines and audiobooks is the order of the day and produces millions in losses. It is a major problem that, nonetheless, may be effectively and immediately mitigated using the protection systems that interested companies may hire.
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