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Netnames warns of rise in eBook piracy

Online brand protection firm claims independent textbook publishers stand to lose the most from uptick in eBook piracy.

Copyright

Online brand protection company NetNames has warned that the growing popularity of eBooks and e-readers has led to a rise in digital piracy.

"The explosion of digital books has transformed the publishing industry but there is one quietly growing problem that is often overlooked - piracy," said David Price, head of Piracy Intelligence at NetNames.

Price was speaking out following the UK launch of the 7in Amazon Kindle Fire HD, which allow users to watch films, read books and play games.

Publishers who stay one step ahead of online piracy will reap benefits.

He also warned that textbook publishers, in particular, are susceptible to piracy as they tend to be read by more "tech-savvy" users.

"NetNames recently took twenty textbooks from the bestselling lists on Amazon and found that each book was available from over 20 links on ebookee.org, one of many download sites that have proliferated and offer easy access to files stored on cyberlockers," he added.

"The small target audience of these textbooks means that any sales diverted to piracy could have devastating effects for publishers."

To tackle this problem, Price suggested introducing one-time online use codes or offering Amazon-like refunds on textbook rentals.

"Moving forward, it is publishers who aim to stay one step ahead of online piracy that will reap the benefits of an increasingly digital world," added Price.

Julian Heathcote Hobbins, general counsel for the anti-piracy body the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST), backed Price's view that eBook piracy is on the rise.

"The advancing popularity of eBooks has naturally led to a piracy increase in this area from the beginning of this year and publishers are now facing a battle not dissimilar to that endured by the music and film industry," he told IT Pro.

"DRM (Digital Rights Infringement) seems the most obvious tool to protect against infringement but it depends on what strategy the publishers wish to do, but action against infringement must be effective," he added.

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