What is the best way for publishers to protect themselves from digital piracy? One option is self-enforcement. Another is to engage outside counsel, which can be incredibly expensive. But both of these approaches only scratch the surface of locating the number of infringing sites. And neither approach is effective over time unless there is constant vigilance for each title.
So what does a publisher, an agent or an author do?
At RosettaBooks, we retained Digimarc Guardian to protect our entire eBook catalog. Their sophisticated software identified far more illegal downloading sites than we could have identified any other way. In the early months, there were a large number of successful takedowns, particularly for our bestselling titles. But more importantly, the number of takedowns in later months was steady. Without this piracy protection service, the same level of piracy would have been back within a few months.
Working with our colleagues at Digimarc Guardian, we wrote a case study that documents the sales impact of enforcing against piracy for some of our bestselling titles. We found that those titles grew in sales much faster than our catalog in general. This is a natural consequence of a successful anti-piracy campaign, as readers who find illegal downloading sites are a targeted audience for the books and are more likely to purchase the books if no free options are available. Early on, RosettaBooks committed to full catalog protection and this course of action has been highly successful. We are generating more sales for ourselves and our authors as a result of full catalog enforcement, while simultaneously fulfilling a fiduciary responsibility to our authors.
Agents and authors should demand that their publishers commit to full catalog protection. Enforcement will yield economic benefits for everyone involved and will protect their books from the ever-growing problem of digital piracy.