eBook Piracy Virtually Nonexistent in the UK (GoodEReader)

The Intellectual Property Office conducted a three month study into the extent of online copyright infringement in the UK. It found that  1% of UK internet users aged 12 and over read “at least some” ebooks illegally. This is a stark contrast to 9% consuming pirated MP3 files and 7% who download the latest Game of Thrones TV episode.

The TeleRead Take: GoodEReader suggests one reason no one is reading pirated e-books in the UK could be due to UK government action in blocking pirated websites—but that wouldn’t explain why so many more are listening to pirated MP3s or watching pirated TV. There’s also talk of increasing the penalty for copyright violation from 2 years to 10 years. However, I agree with them in the next paragraph when they suggest the real reason is probably just that it’s so cheap and easy to read legitimate e-books now that there’s not a whole lot of point in trying to pirate them.

After all, e-books are a little more complicated to make work than mp3s or television. Video players are simple, but e-books require specific e-reader apps, or syncing onto particular hardware devices. It is kind of interesting to see there’s apparently so little piracy in the UK whereas folks on the continent are so badly worried about it, however.

Ebook Vendors Anticipate Big Five Licensing Terms Becoming More Flexible (Library Journal)

While other lending models, including pay-per-circ, metered reading, and unlimited simultaneous access, have existed in the library markets—via platforms such as Odilo, hoopla, Freading, Total BooX, and BiblioBoard—until recently the big five have largely stuck to the now-traditional one-book, one-user model, with terms that typically involve significant price increases versus retail, or pricing comparable to retail but restricted by loan caps. [Baker & Taylor exec VP David] Cully, however, noted that he expects terms to become more favorable to libraries as major publishers begin to compete for a share of the institutional markets.

The TeleRead Take: The idea apparently is that the slowing growth of e-book sales is going to drive publishers to consider other revenue sources. It’s an interesting idea, and the article discusses it at length. It remains to be seen whether this is actually going to happen, though.

University of Iowa Libraries Begin to Digitize Decades of Fanzines (Library Journal)

“These fanzines paint an almost outrageously clear picture of early fandom,” said [Digital Project Librarian Laura] Hampton. “If you read through every single fanzine in our collection, you would have a pretty solid idea of all the goings-on that shaped early fandom—the major players, the dramas, the developments and changes, and who instigated and opposed them. There is an incredible cultural history here that cannot be replicated.”

Labors of love driven by community rather than commerce, fanzines were often printed on the cheap using technology like mimeographs and hectographs, and held together will staples or tape, said Hampton, noting that “all the material things that make a fanzine a fanzine are also what make them difficult to preserve.”

The TeleRead Take: It’s like an early version of the Internet, though in this case a version going back to the 1930s. The original headline on the article talked about “decades of fan fiction,” though that’s not quite right. These fanzines were the way fans communicated back in the day, and it’s an invaluable cultural treasure. Great to hear it’s going to be preserved.

950 million Android phones can be hijacked by malicious text messages (Ars Technica)

[Security firm Zimperium vice president Joshua] Drake said all versions of Android after and including 2.2 are potentially vulnerable and that it’s up to each device manufacturer to patch the bug. So far, very few devices have been patched, leading him to estimate that about 95 percent of devices—or about 950 million of them—are currently susceptible. Even Google’s Nexus 5 handsets, which typically receive security fixes long before most other Android handsets—remain vulnerable. Nexus 6 devices, meanwhile, were patched only recently against some but not all Stagefright attacks. Vulnerable devices running Android versions prior to 4.3 (Jelly Bean) are at the greatest risk, since earlier Android versions lack some of the more recent exploit mitigations. Fixes require an over-the-air update.

The TeleRead Take: The good news is, this bug has been around for 5 years and a security firm only just found it, and doesn’t believe it’s being exploited in the wild yet. Zimperium already proposed a patch to Google, and Google accepted it. But Drake will be talking about the exploit at the Black Hat conference next month, so sooner or later someone else will probably figure it out.

The big problem is that it can be really tricky for critical patches like this to make their way out to phones, because a lot of phones rely on over-the-air updates from their carriers rather than the hardware manufacturers. My own Republic Wireless Moto X, for example, still runs Kit Kat, and updates have to be run through testing and so forth by Republic before they can push them out. It remains to be seen whether Republic will make an exception here. But the even bigger problem is that, as Zimperium say on their blog, devices older than 18 months may not even receive an update at all—which, for a 5-year-old bug, is pretty serious.

Newspapers continue backward thinking about linking (The Buttry Diary)

I remain an optimist that newspapers aren’t dying. But if they die, the cause of death will be suicide, not that the evil Internet killed them.

Hyperlinks are not a matter of life or death, even in the digital age. But failure to adapt can kill your business, or an entire industry, and hyperlinks are a key illustration of newspapers’ failure and unwillingness to adapt.

The TeleRead Take: Steve Buttry here addresses arguments others have mustered against the need to put links in the web versions of their articles. Buttry points out that links help search engines find and rank your content, as well as providing citations for proper transparency. He also notes that people don’t tend to stay on particular sites very long whether there are links or not, and citing one’s outdated CMS as a reason is no excuse—it’s possible to add links in just about any CMS, and the difficulty is a poor excuse for sidestepping basic journalistic integrity.

It has occurred to me that hyperlinks could be important in e-books, too. Not so much fiction, where they could be a distraction, but they could be really helpful in non-fiction. I put useful hyperlinks all through my own e-book, The Geek’s Guide to Indianapolis, so that people who read them on their mobile devices could pull up additional information or useful tools (such as a Google Maps location dialogue) at a tap. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of that kind of thing, in fact.


  1. That Android bug is a dreadful one. Simply by knowing your phone number, a hacker could turn you smartphone into little more than a brick without needing to have any access to your phone. Really nasty terrorist time people could simply guess phone numbers and knock out cell service in an entire region.

    The problem also illustrates one reason for Apple’s success. Once a model is no longer being sold, many smartphone makers seem to care less about operating system upgrades. You’re stuck with the version it shipped with, even if that means dreadful bugs. The makers want to give your more incentives to buy their new models. They’re cheap, but that cheapness comes with a downside.

    Perhaps because iPhones and iPads are priced at the top of the market, Apple wants users to see them more as long-term investments. Operating upgrades to all their products are free and the company aggressively pushes users to upgrade. That also means that third-pary apps improve faster, since they’re not held back by supporting a legacy operating system.

    Those with tight budgets might want to do what I do and buy used rather than get caught in the cheap Android versus pricey iPhone dilemma. Last year, I picked up a Verizon iPhone 5 in great condition for $210. It’s factory jail-broke, so it’ll also work with GSM systems around the world. And before I bought it, I called PagePlus and they certified that it qualified for their re-selling service, which gives me Verizon service at half the cost of Verizon. The only downside it that my data can’t be used to provide hot spot data to another device. Not a bad deal and I figure Apple will keep upgrading it for about two more years, after which I’ll simply step up to an iPhone 5s or 6.

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