Opinion: Grand theft

POSTED: 08/20/13 12:27 PM

Internet is a great tool, but there is a downside. The worldwide web has given plenty of people the idea that all information ought to be available free of charge. Music was the first victim of this misconception: nobody wanted to pay for it anymore. Next were movies, and now the hunger form free information has turned to books. The grand theft of intellectual property on a global scale is hurting these industries – and the creative minds that have to make a living of it.

Illegally copying novels and non-fiction has reached an unmanageable level in the Netherlands. The marketing research bureau GFK published figures this week to support that notion. The sales of e-readers reached new records this summer. But only one out of ten books people are reading on these nifty gadgets have been paid for.

Trouw wrote yesterday that the popular e-reader threatened to become the last push towards the downfall of the better book. In this sense writers differ from musicians. They have few other options to make money with their work.

It is therefore a good thing that writers themselves have sounded the alarm. The young Dutch novelist David de Poel distributed this week one thousand of his books free of charge throughout the country, saying that since he does not make money of them anyway, it is better for his readers to own a paper copy. De Poel reproaches publishers for doing not enough to protect e-readers against hackers. He is right, of course he is right, but according to Trouw this is not the biggest problem.

For too long the argument has been that it is not all that bad for a book to float around somewhere online. That was supposed to be good (and free) advertising. But the reality is much harsher. It already happens that of a new literary novel more copies have been copies than sold.

Dutch publishers have reacted much too apathetic to this situation. The experiences in the music industry have shown that there is no point to combat downloading itself. The only possible rescue is to make buying books legally more attractive and easier.

But e-books are hardly cheaper than paper books and the supply of Dutch books is still relatively small. There is some light at the end of the tunnel though: Dutch and Flemish publishers are working behind the scene on a spotify-system for books, where readers are able to download books for a set amount of money per month. But such a service should have been there already a long time ago, Trouw wrote.

The only ones who are really capable of changing something are of course the readers. Those who buy e-readers and do not pay for books anymore are fooling themselves. At some point in the future they will have no more books to read because they have made writers penniless.

All true, and since we are talking about e-readers anyway, the owners of such gadgets in St. Maarten have problems of their own. The Kindle Fire does not let consumers who bought the gadget in St. Maarten download movies and the possibility to download books is also limited. The reason for this is called copyright issues, but nobody has been able to properly explain what those issues could be for honest consumers who are more than ready to pay for the products they want to download.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Grand theft by

Comments are closed.