With a growing demand for digital books, the publishing industry is increasingly confronted with the issue of online piracy.
Boasting a collection of tens of thousands of eBooks, Springer is one of the larger publishers dealing with this emerging threat.
To show what they’re doing to prevent the unauthorized distribution of eBooks, the company has recently updated its anti-piracy strategy. Like most other copyright holders, Springer is mainly focused on sending takedown requests.
“In order to protect our authors´ rights and interests, Springer proactively screens websites for illegal download links of Springer eBooks and subsequently requires hosts of such download sites to remove and delete the files or links in question,” they write.
The sentence that follows, however, is perhaps of even more interest. While the company admits that piracy is a serious issue, they have yet to see any evidence that it hurts their business (emphasis added).
“While we have not yet seen harmful effects of eBook piracy and file sharing on our eBook portfolio, these are nevertheless considered serious topics,” Springer notes.
In addition to the revelation above, the publisher later notes that torrent sites and other forms of file-sharing “rarely present a threat to eBook content.”
It’s interesting to see that one of the largest book publishers in the industry doesn’t see piracy as a direct threat to its revenues. While Springer doesn’t go into details to explain the absence of a harmful effect, we have to assume that they have some data to back up this claim.
Despite the lack of a concrete threat, the publisher does target central download hubs and commercial sites that sell their content. Springer says that during the summer these anti-piracy efforts have resulted in the shutdown of several ‘unnamed’ illegal sites.
Springer further writes that concerned authors send in 100 notifications about illegal copies every month. Interestingly, half of these notifications don’t really point to infringing material, but spam.
It appears that many authors are falling for fake download advertisements, and the publisher recommends that its authors should ignore these.
“As a rule of thumb links with names like ‘fast download,’ ‘direct download’ or similar frequently turn out to be spam and are not critical in terms of piracy,” Springer explains, adding that the real threat comes from books that can be downloaded “without any barriers such as installations or payments.”
Finally, while P2P file-sharing isn’t seen as a priority for Springer, the company warns its authors away from downloading their own books, or even installing a BitTorrent client as that may result in legal trouble.
“Don’t install sharing clients such as ‘utorrent’ or others,” they warn.
Springer’s final recommendation is a bit over the top. After all, there are several book authors who use BitTorrent to share and promote their work. This includes best-selling author Paulo Coelho who says that piracy increased his sales tremendously.
But perhaps that’s a bridge too far for Springer.