In a bold move for books and authors, Spanish police raided a book piracy facility and seized an undisclosed value of copied and digitized titles intended for sale and distribution. This crackdown marks an important step for recognizing the rights of authors and copyright holders, and for attacking an increasingly frustrating problem.
Piracy, especially of ebooks and MP3s, has been a concern for rights holders for quite some time. The widespread sentiment seems to be one of, “There’s nothing that can be done, so don’t waste time and energy worrying about it.” An increasingly popular view which is held by authors like Hugh Howey is that piracy is actually good for sales of future titles; as readers learn about new authors and enjoy their works, the natural tendency is to support the author.
One fallacy in the publishing industry is that artificial layers of protection like DRM encryption actually prevent piracy, but publishers like Tor have spoken out and stated that it is simply not true. At this year’s IDPF conference in May, Tor Books’ Tim Doherty actually made the case that offering their books DRM-free has actually had zero impact on both piracy and overall sales of their titles.
As the police raid in Spain demonstrates, thieves will find a way. Among the property seized was more than 1,000 copied titles, and the investigation uncovered eight different sites in two cities alone where print book scanning was taking place. This copying of physical books into digital formats for resale through piracy websites is a clear indication that the crime is rampant, but also that “security blanket” measures like DRM-encryption only stop honest people from using their legally purchased ebooks in the way that they see fit and best suits their reading needs.