Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A guest post from PANZ on copyright

Regular readers will remember the sequence of posts from author Steve Braunias, Copyright Licensing NZ CEO Paula Browning and TUANZ CEO Paul Brislen on copyright issues, arising from speeches at the CLNZ awards last month. Paula got 1600+ hits, and Steve and Paul weren’t far behind at 1000+ and 750+ respectively. OK, well behind, far enough behind to make Paula, who is a sporty sort and thus competitive, happy.   

Because I post links to these posts on Twitter and Facebook they were circulated in those closed environments, where I received a bit of abuse from the “information wants to be free” crowd. I asked the critics to comment on the blog so there could be a public debate that we could all see,  but nah. Shy guys, I guess. Still, there were good visible comments from Rick Shera, Russell Brown, Paula, Paul and others.

But wait – there’s more on copyright. I don’t print, if that’s the word, press releases but this one is worth it. It’s from the Publishers’ Association of New Zealand (PANZ) with a concrete example of how illegal file-sharing hurts New Zealand authors and publishers, and why Kim Dotcrim is not a hero.  
Kiwi authors’ income hurt by illegal file sharing
Discovery of an educational text co-authored by a New Zealander and made available for download on Kim Dotcom’s file-sharing site Mega is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ according to Publishers Association of New Zealand president Sam Elworthy.
The text, Using MIS (Management Information Systems) (NZ) by David M. Kroenke and Tony Hooper – a lecturer at Victoria University in Wellington, was shared via a link posted on the Facebook page of a tertiary institutions’ study group.
PANZ has issued a ‘take down’ notice to Mega to remove the files from its site and contacted Facebook to have the post removed.
“Educational texts are being illegally shared at an alarming rate and it’s hurting New Zealand authors, publishers and distributors to the point where earning a viable living is becoming increasingly threatened,” Elworthy says.
“Technology makes sharing files very easy but it’s the people who put in the hard work to make and supply the texts in the first place who miss out.”
The text is published by educational publisher Pearson and distributed in New Zealand by start-up business Edify. Pearson quit the New Zealand market in August this year after claiming its local business model was no longer sustainable.
“There are very few publishers now investing in publishing for the New Zealand tertiary market due to its small size. However it’s hugely important that the New Zealand context is provided to support New Zealand students in their learning of a topic,” says Edify’s Adrian Keane
“To see an author and publisher who were prepared to make this investment in publishing for the New Zealand environment treated in this way is infuriating. It will only serve as a disincentive to any other author or publisher when they see the negative impact that illegal downloading has on income.
“This particular text was even available as an eText so it’s not like it was hard to access in a digital format.
“Where we have a text that’s prescribed for a course we used to be able to rely on 80% of the students buying the book. Now that figure is more like 50% which puts the viability of publishing these books under threat. It’s safe to say that illegal sharing is really hurting both our business and the incomes of New Zealand authors who spend months creating the works,” Keane says.
Elworthy says the link posted on the student Facebook page went straight to the files on Mega meaning anyone could download it.
Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright and racketeering charges over the operation of his previous file locker site Megaupload.
In the original sequence of posts, reposts and responses, the comment on Facebook that amused me most was from a young person obsessed with the marginal cost of making a digital copy of a book, which is indeed vanishingly small – so, he asked, why should the price not be tiny, why should it be anything near that of the physical object? Why shouldn’t the book be free?  Short answer: because the author has to live long enough to write the next book, which means earning enough money to pay the bills so that he or she can live long enough. Also the publisher would like to stay in business. Which does not occur to a young person who can nick the book off the internet.

I’m glad that I am not young any more. So here is Maurice Chevalier in Gigi:


Paul said...

Found on Scribd: Copyright and Access to Knoledge [sic], apparently uploaded without permission.

Anonymous said...

Mega took the link down 4 hours after being notified.
How long did Facebook take to react?

Stephen Stratford said...

Good to know if true so thanks, Anonymous. I'll pass this on.