“I think what leads to rampant piracy is not meeting emergent demands.” – Brian O’Leary

That is the most concise statement I’ve read so far about an issue that constantly bothers me, which is that content companies create their own piracy problems.

They do it by not moving fast enough, or by not waking up to the fact that the balance of power between consumer and company has shifted. If a company chooses to not support a known distribution channel or ignores a market, it’s basically asking consumers to find other ways to get at the content.

O’Leary’s statement comes from a great interview on piracy and DRM at O’Reilly Radar, where he points out two sad facts:

  1. that we still don’t know whether piracy negatively affects sales; and
  2. that the majority of publishers still refuse to collect the information that would be necessary to answer this question definitively.

Meanwhile, companies continue to treat the world like it hasn’t transformed in the past decade, and then wonder why their customers have jumped so far ahead of them in the marketplace. An article from last week in the Sydney Morning Herald points out how Australian readers shop elsewhere when local publishers delay publishing foreign titles for months:

“Publishers who think they are protecting their markets are mistaken: the keen readers who go overseas for their niche or advance books will justify the cost of shipping by also buying those titles they may have otherwise picked up at home.”

You know what else they do, all over the world? They open up accounts at the U.S. Amazon store. They check out library books. And they look online for pirated copies.

“What leads to rampant piracy is not meeting emergent demands.”

“Book piracy: Less DRM, more data” [radar.oreilly.com]
“Culture vultures forced go pirate” [Sydney Morning Herald]

(Photo: Corey Leopold)

Via Chris Walters’ BookSprung blog