Dispatches from the Digital Revolution
By KEIRA LYONS
Earlier this week, I posted about the publishing world’s fear of losing sales to free ebook downloads through public library platforms such as OverDrive. Personally, I think this fear is irrational and unfounded, and the subsequent decision to pull ebook titles from OverDrive won’t promote sales, but will actually damage the public’s perception of publishers.
Today, Publishers Weekly has come up with yet another reason why publishers should support and collaborate with library ebook platforms: to discourage piracy.
In his PWxyz blog posting, “Libraries are the best counter to piracy,” Peter Brantley argues that by supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently under debate in the House of Representatives and seeks to punish those who pirate digital content and the websites that enable them, publishers are “[shooting] themselves in the foot.” Why support restriction of the Internet, something you know practically nothing about, when you can do something as simple as making titles more readily available to consumers? Brantley writes:
Libraries have always been the best counter to piracy. And instead of cementing a relationship with libraries that works to the benefit of all parties, publishers have steadfastly withdrawn the ability of libraries to provide free content, even when it is available for only limited borrowing periods, or only a restricted number of titles, with severe constraints on sharing and copying. Instead, they have indicated an interest in the commercialization of libraries by encouraging rental models.
Consumers who pirate content will always pirate content, and they will always find a means to do so. Setting up inadequate online barriers doesn’t do much more than stifle freedom of expression, and isn’t going to stop piracy. But collaboration between publishers and public libraries could be a viable alternative to further legislation.