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Digital Publishing and Copyright Infringement

I don’t have any deep and meaningful thoughts on this myself, but I’ve been wondering for a while why we don’t hear more about copyright infringement and DMCA infringement in the digital publishing industry.  The music, movie and gaming industries seem to have led the charge in protecting their copyrights in the digital world and being extremely vocal about it in the process. But not so the publishing industry. I’ve heard a couple of different explanations for this none of which I find completely satisfying. One is that publishers have different relationships with their customers than other industries – perhaps less adversarial in some senses, and publishers are thus more concerned than some industries about alienating customers by threatening copyright infringement suits. Another explanation has been that the publishing industry has somehow been better at using technological protection measures to protect its content. Again, I don’t know how much truth there is to that. I did correspond with one self-published author who told me that she sends out DMCA notices all the time to folks who illegally copy her work and that when she works with publishers, they also end up sending a lot of DMCA notices on her behalf. This author also mentioned to me that copyright infringement in the book industry is potentially more damaging to content creators (and distributors) because people tend to only read a book once while they go back to other digital copyrighted works – music, movies, games – multiple times and may ultimately decide it’s easier to just get a legal copy at the end of the day.  I’m not sure that makes sense either. If people download games, music and movies illegally, I can’t imagine that their ongoing enjoyment of that content would lead them to want to make legal purchases down the track unless there are other incentives.

I’d be interested in whether others have thoughts on these issues. I’ve been trying to puzzle them out for a while.