With a keynote by Robert Levine, journalist and author of Free Ride, about how the proponents of consumer access to free content are often those who use that content to sell advertising, this year’s Copyright and Technology New York conference began. A few in the audience were from book publishing – MIT’s Bill Trippe moderated an interesting panel on DRM (including Open Access, epub3*, watermarking, etc.) – but many more were from music, copyright litigation and technology companies. Presented by Gothamedia and Bill Rosenblatt’s GiantSteps, the daylong conference covered copyright, DRM, Artists Rights movements, and of course, Piracy, in sessions that focused on the issues from both tech and legal points of view. Piracy was the focus of several panels, including one devoted to “the post SOPA/PIPA world,” where one panelist casually mentioned that Google queries re pirating books have doubled in the last year. Thomas Sehested from MarkMonitor (a sponsor) pointed out on another panel on piracy data collection that with the rise of tablets, “ebook piracy is on the fast track.”
As panelists who track the pirates faced off against those, like IP lawyer Jim Burger (who once ran Apple’s Computer Law Dept.), who argued that piracy is free marketing, several argued that companies like Amex, that advertise on pirate sites, should be boycotted. With file sharing sites consuming 30% of internet bandwidth in Asia and Europe and 15% in the US, everyone agreed that piracy would not be stopped, merely curbed. However, when MarkMonitor’s Thomas Sehested revealed that the vast majority of illegal downloads carry viruses – “We have to wipe our computers daily” – several in the audience suggested that a campaign to alert the public might be the most effective way to dissuade downloaders.
Other innovative approaches to piracy – much of it inadvertent, especially when images are grabbed (one audience member noted a panelist had “stolen” his graphic for his presentation) – included retroactively approaching the pirate to request payment. Getty Images’ Offir Gutelzon said several of its clients had seen real success with this approach. Who are the biggest offenders in digital image piracy? “Large corporations,” he admitted with a shrug.
*DBW’s writeup of Kobo’s epub3 plans: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2012/kobo-to-fully-support-epub-3-by-third-quarter-2013/