Monday, May 24, 2010

And Now a Word on Copyright (and DRM)

Publishers Marketplace directed me to an article on Friday in the Financial Times.

The article quoted Dame Gail Rebuck, chairman and CEO of The Random House Group, who said illegal copying of e-books was "engrained culturally." She said that, while e-book sales represent only a small part of the industry today, when those sales become significant, "that is going to be a huge cost for the publisher."

The Financial Times' article didn't give any more information about Dame Gail's opinions than that so I went a-Googling. On The Bookseller's blog, I found her speech to the Stationers’ Company Annual Lecture on March 10, 2008. Here's an excerpt:
We need, in a globalising, digital world, to continue to think globally and this means facing global challenges, particularly in the area of copyright protection and territorial copyright ...

But the security of electronically captured text is difficult to protect – a book in digital form can travel from a New York house to the Far East in seconds, then be illegally duplicated at the push of a button.

Piracy threatens to erode the copyright protection that is the cornerstone of our creative industries and their successful exports. Vigilant policing and joined-up legislation across all countries is essential. Education is vital, too, to show that these crimes are in no sense ‘victimless’, however harmless they may seem. Indifference to copyright protection and copyright worth will prove highly destructive. It threatens to stifle creativity altogether, by making it no longer worthwhile to be creative ... I am saying the need for copyright protection has never been greater, or more complex.
I respectfully disagree with Dame Gail. And I'm going to repeat what I said back on February 28, 2009 on this blog:
I'm dead serious about the need for the publishing industry, including authors, to reexamine itself and rethink some of their hard-and-fast stances on copyright and DRM.

Power is shifting from publisher to reader. Readers will control the future of the industry. Authors stand to gain in that shifting of power . . . if they can accommodate a concomitant shift in attitude.
I was encouraged to see that The Financial Times also quoted another member of the Big Six fraternity ... and even more pleased to see that the comments came from someone at Penguin, my own publisher, although from the UK side of the pond.
Tom Weldon, deputy chief executive of Penguin, ... said: "The only way to fight piracy is to publish digital content across as many formats as possible, through as many channels, at a fair price. If we go for exclusive or proprietary formats, we're completely screwed."
You tell 'em, Tom. I just hope they're listening.

Go here to read the Financial Times' article.

Go here to read the entire speech by Dame Gail to the Stationers’ Company Annual Lecture.

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