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.