Sunday, July 08, 2012

America: World leader in ebook piracy ?


One of those innovative, new technology sites is up for sale. The sort that makes a fortune from exploiting quality content on the internet.

The sort that relies upon internet "privacy" and "anonymity" and on irresponsible advertisers turning a blind eye to what sort of activity their advertisement dollars are encouraging and funding. Or worse. A large chunk of the site's revenue comes from "hosting" sites that many would call pirates. More than one pays this "e-book search"site in Euros.

This site is valued by the seller or perhaps by the brokers as six million dollars, predicated on an average income from affiliates and advertising and fees over the last three months of $60,000 (a month), and traffic exceeding 21 million visitors in the last three months.

What this site does is to help would-be downloaders to locate "free" ebooks. It does not host the ebooks itself. It simply provides live links to where they are hosted. A lot of internet businessmen do this, and very few of the links appear to go to legitimate sources such as authors' or publishers' websites, or retail sites where the ebooks are being given away voluntarily by the copyright owners.

free ebook search














Over the last three months, 3.5 million visitors from the USA visited this site looking to download ebooks without paying for them. (Indians ranked second with 3.3 million searchers. Britons were third with just under one million, Canadians were fifth with 725,000 visits, and all credit to Australia which only accounted for fewer than 500,000 visits and ranked 8th.).

A few years ago, apologists for copyright infringers claimed that most of the piracy happened because people in foreign countries had no access to great American fiction, or were unable to pay for American ebooks because PayPal or other international online payment processors did not serve addresses in their countries, or that evil greedy American publishers added exorbitant surcharges for books shipped to their foreign countries.

Something has changed!

Is it reasonable to extrapolate that American ebook readers are the most dishonest in the world? If so, why so?

$60,000 a month gives one pause. Could this work for publishers? So-called pirates tell copyright owners that we are dinosaurs, and that we need to embrace the new reality, and find new ways to monetize our intellectual property. With the best will in the world, I do not see how this site's business model would work for a publisher.

From what I can extrapolate from the financials to convince some sucker to pay $2,000,000 outright or $6,000,000 at auction for a site that (in my opinion) could be seized by the Feds as was MegaUpload, the system works like this.

Members of "Load-of-it" (made up name for a hosting site) upload e-books that they do not own. They are paid by "Load-of-it" possibly at a rate of $25 for every 1,000 downloads.

"Load-of-it" pays ebooksearchsite a commission for every referred visitor, and/or a commission every time a visitor from ebooksearchsite buys a subscription for greater downloading capacity.

It is profitable because the copyright owners are completely out of the loop.

Could publishers upload all their authors' ebooks free to a website, and charge downloaders a membership fee for faster downloads? I don't think so. I think speed is important and worth paying for because the download needs to be as quick and as anonymous as possible, and the "freebie" could be removed at any time.

If the free download were legal, no one would pay for speed. Moreover, at the rate of $25 per 1,000 downloads, a self-published author would do better to sell through Amazon!

If every publisher gave away every book, the model would not be sustainable. Already, Kindle owners and EBay 'DVD' customers have hundreds if not tens of thousands of ebooks on their ereaders and in their clouds.



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