How do you know you are doing something wrong?

When 35-year-old women are a problem for your industry. Seriously, does ANYONE really believe that this age-group are pirating ebooks because they ‘hate’ publishers or dislike copyright?

No, they are downloading ebooks from illegal sources because they can’t find legal ones, the prices at legal sites are well beyond what they think are fair or simply because they haven’t been reached by legitimate publishers.

Doesn’t make it right in itself but it does suggest there is work to be done by the industry that isn’t ENFORCEMENT work.

ON top of which the report continues with the whole one illegal download = one lost sale nonsense which just drives me mad!

According to the Digital Entertainment Survey, conducted by Entertainment Media Research on behalf of Wiggin, a media law firm, one in eight female tablet or e-reader owners over the age of 35 admits to downloading “unauthorised” copies of e-books.

via / UK / Business – Women help fuel rise in e-book piracy.

Via Eoin Purcell’s blog


  1. From my experience with readers, a vast majority of women who download pirated books do so because they don’t understand copyright.

    For example, I recently saw a sig line of a reader on a very popular paranormal romance reading group with members in the thousands where she offered to share ebooks. When I informed her she was breaking copyright law, she was shocked and embarrassed because she is very supportive of the writers who create the books she loves.

  2. One anecdote does not a majority make. I don’t believe that most women pirate books because they “don’t understand copyright”… I doubt they think that far into it. I do believe most women, like most men, pirate books simply because they can, and they know they won’t get in trouble doing it.

  3. Steven, for every self-centered jerk out there who will steal because he or she can, there is a larger number who won’t if they realize it’s both wrong and against their self-interest not to.

    Romance readers are enormously loyal readers of very specific types of books, as well as completely aware that you don’t get rid of your pusher when you are addicted.

    I could share dozens of similar anecdotes of readers who have learned of the various dangers of everything from pirated books to the illegal reselling of stripped-cover massmarkets and who have become part of the team to combat these things.

    I alone have received dozens of tips to pirate sites and other illegal activities from readers who became mad when they discover how harmful this behavior is to writers and the readers who love their works.

    Think of this as the importance of educating the consumer. Just ten years ago, most of us thought nothing of tossing a cola can into the garbage, but now, through education, we’ve learned that it’s to our own best interests to recycle.

  4. Both of you should read the article again. What part of “they can’t find legal ones” did you not understand?

  5. I agree that the largest number of pirates are of the “clueless sharer” type rather than one of the other varieties. Certainly, the ones I’ve talked to are all in that group.

    The clueless ones come in two types: those who haven’t thought for a moment about it, and those who know that it’s illegal, but have seen one of the myriad articles that either extoll the benefits received by authors and publishers, or that excuse it based upon some sort of perceived failings in the owners of electronic rights.

    Simply put: no matter what the product is, if I own it, and don’t want to sell it, no one has a right to get it anyway. And an unserved market is no excuse for violating the author or publishers’ wishes.

    Personally, I released my ebook (The Profitable Publisher) at a relatively low price (for a non-fiction, niche market business book), and without any DRM. But that’s MY choice, and other choices are not only reasonable, but should be, IMNHO, respected.

    Frankly, if more pirates grew up and stopped ripping off the rightsholders, there’d be far fewer refusing to release e-books, and far lower prices when they do, but for now, it’s a vicious cycle.

  6. I don’t believe a single word of this nonsense.

    In addition all you have to do is read “According to the Digital Entertainment Survey, conducted by Entertainment Media Research on behalf of Wiggin, a media law firm,” and anyone with a brain should stop reading. This is pure industry fiction, concocted for industry propaganda reasons.

    The actual number of illegal downloads is more than likely an infinitesimal fraction of the numbers bandied around here and there and the number that cause lost sales is likely even less. A lot of hot air about a cloud in a vacuum.

  7. This is why I (and I’m well over 35) don’t buy E-books (but still buy them as paper ones):

    “What does DRM imply for me personally?
    When you buy an e-book with DRM you don’t really own it but have purchased the permission to use it in a manner dictated to you by the seller. DRM limits what you can do with e-books you have “bought”. Often people who buy books with DRM are unaware of the extent of these restrictions. These restrictions prevent you from reformatting the e-book to your liking, including making stylistic changes like adjusting the font sizes, although there is software that empowers you to do such things for non DRM books. People are often surprised that an e-book they have bought in a particular format cannot be converted to another format if the e-book has DRM. So if you have an Amazon Kindle and buy a book sold by Barnes and Nobles, you should know that if that e-book has DRM you will not be able to read it on your Kindle. Notice that I am talking about a book you buy, not steal or pirate but BUY.”


    Add to this that book stores like Amazon have the power to delete books that you actually bought (and thus should own), and wonder how accessible your dearly paid books really are. With all these books and data “in the cloud”, censorship too is only a small step away.

  8. @Michael, “they can’t find legal ones” is hardly an excuse for piracy.

    @Marilynn, you and I obviously have different experiences with sharers. The vast majority of people I run into, hang with and work with give no thought whatsoever to sharing, and when I stop to engage them on the subject, it is clear that “it’s free, and I can get it/someone got it free for me” is all the justification and reasoning they need to pirate. Explaining the adverse impact they are having on creators for doing so has absolutely no effect on them, other than to nod soberly, tell me I have a good point, then get away from the old fruitcake (me) at first opportunity and never discuss filesharing with him again. And yes, this includes women and men.

    The consumer does need to be educated. The problem is, as long as money is involved, and no punishments are likely, most of them simply won’t care, and will continue to do what they want to do. Take a look at the streets and sidewalks, and you still find plenty of garbage there instead of in recycle bins. That’s the reality in which we live.

  9. The urge to share with others is pretty deeply embedded in the human psyche.

    You’ll never convince people that it’s wrong to share a song or a book or an idea or a thought or some words. Because it’s not.

  10. @Binko, why would it NOT be wrong to copy a book and give it to someone else? Does it make a difference if the copying is easy and inexpensive? If it doesn’t cost you anything at all? Those change whether or not you WILL do it, perhaps, but not whether or not you SHOULD.

    And I think most of us know it’s wrong to make a copy of a printed book for someone else, instead of either loaning them our copy or getting them to buy their own.

    And, of course, you would be well within your rights, with most books, to loan them your e-copy, if that was what you did. But it’s not easy to check them in and out of your personal collection, except through special arrangements like Amazon’s or the Nook’s.

    @Steve Lyle Jordan, I agree that some folks will treat you as a crank if you try to educate them about why it’s wrong to “share” their purchases, let alone the copies they’ve ripped off.

    But keep trying to find a way to do it without over the top about it, and maybe between us, we’ll all make a difference in the prevailing views. If there are enough “cranks” out there, espousing a position, it becomes mainstream.

  11. Binko and Marion, FYI.

    According to US copyright law, it is illegal to share an ebook without the express permission of the copyright holder. That’s why Amazon/Kindle and the other ereaders which offer a lending feature must have the agreement of the copyright holder before they can.

    For the specifics on this, read this blog article and follow its links to the various government sources.

  12. Well said Binko. It is not. Sometimes the law is an ass and is out of date with the fast moving changes in technology. The law, according to the publishers that is, tells us they can ‘lease’ us what they are really ‘selling us. This is an abuse of the process and an abuse of the principle of property laws that have served us well for centuries. Nothing they say will make it right and nothing they say will persuade ordinary people that we are wrong to do what we are entitled to do.

    Sharing eBooks is not different to sharing anything else. People may try to twist things around to try to make it sound what it is not. That will fail. They will fail trying to abuse the english language by calling it ‘education’, when what it is is simply trying to justify the unjustifiable. And trying to brow beat people with some kind of pompous and obtuse ‘guilt trip’ will ultimately fail because people have an innate and instinctive feeling for what it right and what is wrong.

    Lending what we buy as our own is right, fair and just. Nothing anyone will say will change that. For every attempt that tries to persuade ordinary people that it is wrong there will be a thousand people reassuring them of the nonsense of their argument.

  13. Marion, the original intent of copyright was to balance the needs of creators and the public by granting a monopoly for a very limited time in order to promote creation. After that the works returned to the public domain.

    Hence the original term of copyright was 14 years. An author could extend the term for one more 14 year period and that was it. But corporate money has purchased multiple extensions to copyright from our corrupt congress. Now the term of copyright is something like 80 years past the death of the author. Basically nothing created in your lifetime will ever fall out of copyright in your lifetime.

    Additionally the penalties for infringement have become insanely harsh. Again corporate money buys tougher laws from a pliant congress. Film a movie with a webcam and share it with your buddies and you could serve more jail time than you would for 2nd Degree Murder.

    So, as far as I’m concerned, copyright as currently enshrined in the law is unconstitutional, contrary to the public good and invalid. I applaud anybody who attempts to puzzle out what is reasonable and follow his own conscience when it comes to copyright.

  14. As a keen Australian reader, I continually run up against geographic limitations which ban me from buying ebooks, including those by Australian authors. I am puzzled by an industry which doesn’t want my money.

    When you’re “allowed” to buy every book of a series except one in the middle, how many would-be purchasers do you think will head to the darknet?

    When you used to be able to buy books by your favourite authors, but aren’t “allowed” to anymore, how frustrated would you feel?

    Don’t underestimate the neglected buying power and changing reading habits of the majority of English speakers who live outside the U.S.

  15. @Marilyn Byerly, I’m well aware that rightsholders have to give permission for any use of their works, including lending an e-copy. But I think that, if you’re going to sell e-versions of your books, there are very few situations where denying this option would make sense.

    @Binko, I happen to agree with you that the current term of copyright makes no sense for 99% of all works. But the point is not whether the term should be 14 years or 14 plus the option to extend for a number of renewals or forever.

    The vast majority of illegally downloaded works have been released within the last year, or maybe five at the most. No matter what the term of copyright, these copies would be illicitly made.

    @Howard, sharing is legal, IF you don’t keep a copy when you share yours with your friend. But it doesn’t work out that way, and we all know it. And if you take away control of the number of copies made, just how are you expecting creators to earn their money?

    And lest you haul out that aged old excuse that it’s all going to those evil corporations, allow me to inform you up front: there are only about 5 large publishing companies (although they have dozens of imprints) and there are almost 100,000 companies whose total annual sales, BEFORE expenses, are less than an average person’s yearly salary.

    And, of the total publishing pie, a very large piece goes to the (generally starving, unless they have a day job) author. For further details, allow me to refer you to an old post of mine laying out where the money goes for an average book. It’s here.

  16. @Marion: It’s fine to argue moderation in advising against piracy, but it seems to me that saying “Please, don’t…” is enough to cause you to be burned in effigy as a Big Brother-mongering monster. Happens to me every time, no matter what tone I use.

    Piracy won’t end until digital documents have true security, and that’s a long ways away right now. People will continue to steal from artists like me, twist words around to try to justify their actions (as witnessed above), then laugh at the artists. Way to make us feel like concubines, guys.

    And as to the original post, there’s no point in singling out women as a major cause; everyone’s doing it.

  17. Steven, concubines get three meals a day and a home.

    Pirates don’t even offer to buy writers and artists a drink after they screw us. Instead, they kick us in the ribs, call us corporate whores, and blame us.

    “The bitch deserved it because (fill in standard pirate rhetoric here)” is the standard blame the victim method of bullies and brats everywhere.

  18. You’re right, of course: Artists have always been the public’s bitches; and now, thanks to digital media, artists get to be gang-raped in public… and then told they should be happy anyone wants to even touch them.

    Simply put, it’s not a good time to be a digital artist in the modern world, with no way to protect your work, and a world of people eager to steal it at the drop of a hat.

  19. I suggest that that is the most appallingly noxious and offensive comment I have read for years. I hope no one who has actually been raped or abused has the misfortune to read it’s puerile and idiotically content.

    It is so vile I have no intention of tackling the substance of it’s repulsive argument.

  20. @Steve/Marilynn: Wow. Hyperbole much?

    I hope neither of you had high hopes of being taken seriously in the discussion. The black/white, “piracy: bad/doing exactly what the publishing industry wants: good” argument wasn’t going particularly well, given that neither of you seems to admit any shades of gray into the discussion. But this new road…


    1+ for Howard.

  21. @anon: You’re welcome.

    I’m not quite sure what point you think was proven. I saw a wildly over-the-top offensive metaphor and a lot of whining self-pity about how no one understands “artists.”

    This forum goes around and around and around on this issue, and will never get anywhere. I’m not discounting that some authors are harmed by some of what gets lumped under the “piracy” umbrella, and I’ll stand with anyone in the cause of ending specific harm (i.e., authors and publishers not being properly compensated for their work). I think virtually all posters on this forum would. What I’m sick to death of is people using that piracy umbrella as cover for all kinds of ridiculous statements and rationalizations.

  22. Howard, if you want to set yourself up as morally and intellectually superior, then you need to not make “its/it’s” errors. HTH HAND

  23. Ok, I am going to have to come out and confess that I am a woman over 35 and that I HAVE downloaded pirated ebooks. But since you can buy them now, I don’t do it often – unless it’s not available as an ebook at all. Oh, and there was a recent case where I’d bought the paper copy and didn’t want to have to pay another $10 for the ebook. but in general, I buy A LOT of digital content.

    Seriously, make the ebooks available at a reasonable price and people will buy them. Better yet, offer print/ebook bundles or bulk discounts – book club ebook downloads, buy one and give one download to a friend, etc.

    The hyperbole on both sides of this issue needs to stop.

  24. I think one of the bigger issues–which has indeed been pointed out by previous commentors–is that many people, not just women, simply aren’t aware of the boundaries that apply to media. Since they’ve always been used to equating “access to a copy” with possession of a physical token (a printed book or pressed record or videotape) then they haven’t yet recognized that sending copies of something to your friends isn’t the same as lending them a book.

  25. Marion, my point is that it would be easier to sell people the idea of respecting copyright if copyright were fair, balanced and sensible. When copyright is essentially infinite, and 100% protective of corporate interests over broader cultural interests (as it seems to be now) how can people respect it?

    Did you know that a huge trove of golden age previously lost Jazz recordings have been found? They have great cultural value. But they are not available to the public in any form because of copyright. Copyright has been made automatic so that creators and their heirs need do nothing to get full term. Also punishment is harsh even if infringement is accidental.

    Therefore it would cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to search for everyone (many dead) who hold copyright on all this previously lost music and obtain rights. That means it just sits in a vault. Corporate copyright is destroying the vibrancy of our culture. Instead we get a highly policed, locked down world of monetized content.

    So, if copyright was fair and made sense, I would happily follow the rules and try to educate others. Until then I’m happy to see endless downloads and boundless piracy. Maybe it will help to make it clear how broken the current system really is.

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