Asian organized crime is focusing on book scanning on a massive scale in Madrid and Seville. Police recently arrested three people and seized 8 large printing machines, at various facilities, that were capable of printing and scanning 1,000 books in a few weeks.
The investigation and subsequent arrests follows a complaint from the copyright protection arm of Spain’s authors and publishers association. It said it had detected evidence of a large-scale operation to scan original works.
Over 10 additional hard drives were seized with over 10,000 mainstream bestsellers and digital textbooks from all of the major publishers. The texts were available in both English and Spanish.
A recent study by Attributor, a firm that specializes in monitoring content online, came to the conclusion that book piracy costs the industry nearly $3 billion a year. Selling “used” textbooks to students is big business and often large scale scanning operations will sell their books on eBay, Craigslist or a website that charges access to digitized books.
In an interview with The Millions, a confessed book pirate elaborated on how easy it really is. “The scanning process takes about 1 hour per 100 scans. Mass market paperbacks can be scanned two pages at a time flat on the scanner bed, while large trades and hardcovers usually need to be scanned one page at a time. I’m sure that some of the more hardcore scanners disassemble the book and run it through an automatic feeder or something, but I prefer the manual approach because I’d like to save the book, and don’t want to invest in the tools. Usually I can scan a book while watching a movie or two.”