Online book pirating sparks outcry
In an attempt to fight against the illegal pirating of textbooks and study guides online, a group of publishers has taken action against sites that provide unauthorized file-sharing among peers.
The Association of American Publishers, the national trade association of the American book publishing industry, has created a committee that, over the past few months has drafted a set of recommendations they believe that file-sharing websites should abide by.
The recommendations are still being revised and have not yet been shared to the public. However, certain highlights of the draft are mentioned in the most recent newsletter from the group.
The Chronicle of Higher Education said that the group urges websites to, “install filters to block copyrighted material from being posted, send warning notices to users who post copyrighted material, telling them such activity is illegal and create and enforce policies that disable the accounts of users who repeatedly post copyrighted material.”
Other recommendations include alternatives that suggest the site “provide links to sites that offer legal methods of buying electronic books and to give publishers lists of books that have been blocked or removed from their site.”
One such website, Scribd, has already met with the publishing group twice, but it has not received any of the new recommendations.
Attributor, a company whose FairShare Guardian service tracks the Internet for illegally posted content, has estimated that more than nine million books were downloaded from the 25 sites it traced. Publishers could be losing around $3 billion in revenue.
Peer-to-peer file sharing is a criminal offense on campus. The Office of Information Technologies can trace whether or not a user is misusing the campus’ Internet network for illegal file sharing.
Examples of file-sharing websites include LimeWire, as well as anything supported by BitTorrent.
Even with the high prices of textbooks, many students are against the act of pirating.
“It’s wrong in every aspect to illegally download a book,” said undeclared freshman Ryan Galvin.
Brandon Tower, a senator for the Student Government Association, agreed.
“Without question, action has to be taken, and we’re working on that, but it has to be done legitimately,” he said.
Tower has taken an initiative to deal with the high prices of books on campus. He created a Facebook group, entitled “UMass WILL lower its TEXTBOOK PRICES; WE the students DEMAND IT,” which has over 2,000 members.
Tower is currently putting together a model for a possible student-run co-op which would provide textbooks to students at a reasonable price through the process of renting.
A clause in the current contract prevents the opening of any business that could possibly threaten the sales of the Textbook Annex. The contract is set to end at the end of this semester, and the student-formed group plans to ask for revisions to be made.
Tower insists that the group does not want to cause any problems for any business.
“I want to be clear, we’re not trying to put the [Textbook] Annex out of business,” he said. “This is the students’ university, and our policy is students first.”
“We want to take responsibility for our own education, and that should be our right,” he added.
Some professors currently order books through Amherst Books or Food for Thought Books to help the students with the overall cost.
Other websites, such as eBooks, provide various publications online for sale, most of which are usually cheaper than a printed copy.
Students agree that something must be done about textbook costs.
“Prices of books are typically ridiculous,” said freshman resource economics major Mikayla Astor. “I went to the store and used all of my cash.”
“If the prices were lower, more people would actually be willing to pay for them,” she added.
Tim Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.