Pirating for Dummies – torrenting easy-ish to block, but does it solve any real problem?

I think one of the many many things that is exacerbated by the digital divide is the gap in understanding about digital content. That is, the difference between what digital content is innately, what it becomes when it becomes a transactional item (i.e. with checkoutability), and what aspects of both of these “states of being” are created by whom.

So, it’s one thing to say “We have ebooks!” and quite another to represent the “ecosystem” of ebooks (to quote a recent talk I heard from a representative of the American Publishers’ Association) as being analogous to the one that paper books inhabit. This is just a long lead-up to linking to this article about bittorenting and using it to access copyrighted works and what you might find there. The author, Jeff Duntemann, is a friend of a friend and wrote a piece looking at which Dummies books are actually available on The Pirate Bay in the light of Wiley filing a copyright lawsuit against people pirating their books using Bittorent. For people familiar with the world of underground ebooking, this will be nothing new. For people who aren’t quite sure exactly how people get and/or redistribute digital content, this post should be helpful for you. Duntemann notes that the bulk of ebook swapping likely isn’t even taking place on big public torrent tracking sites like The Pirate Bay because ebook files are smaller and can be distributed in any number of different ways. He notes:

Video rules the torrent world because video is big, and the BitTorrent protocol is the most effective way to get video downloaded quickly. Small files like ebooks are elsewhere, unless they’re gathered into massive collections the size of Blu-Ray rips. Ebook piracy seems to be a minor issue today because ebook piracy is mostly invisible. It’s out there, and for all that I’ve pondered the problem, I return to the conclusion that the problem has no solution other than to sell the goods easily and cheaply, and to stop teaching people to be pirates by making the media experience complicated with DRM.

In the meantime, I’m considering purchasing this book for my local library. I think we as librarians need to understand these systems if we’re going to be working within and around them.

previews and spoilers in a 2.0 age

This is only loosely library-related. I remember when one of the Harry Potter books came out and I was working in a library. I realized they got the book early and were just in some weird way honor bound not to reveal the ending, to ration the copies out fairly, etc. That seemed decent. Libraries do the same thing with DVDs, waiting to shelve and/or “release” them until a certain date. Now that entire very popular books like Harry Potter can be photographed and released via bittorent sites well in advance of their sale date, what does this mean for the adorable, if outdated, notion of these embargoes? Anyone who wants to read the Harry Potter spoilers and figure out who dies, click this link.

update: actually don’t bother clicking it since I’ve now gotten word that it’s wrong. Testing spoilers is so complicated. Last I checked there was someone posting what seem like real spoilers spamlike across a bunch of livejournal communities. Rocky few days ahead for people who don’t want to know what happens. Last I checked since then, the posts were being removed almost as fast as they were going up. However, the transcription project is already going well, though some people are claiming that the photographs have themselves been photoshopped to include fake “facts” and others claim there are at least two sets of book photos going around that are not at all the same.