Home Survey Finds E-Book Piracy Occurs Among a Surprising Demographic

Survey Finds E-Book Piracy Occurs Among a Surprising Demographic

Digital piracy. It’s an illicit activity undertaken by college students in their dorm rooms or by teenagers in their parents’ basements, right? Wrong, according to a recent survey by the British law firm Wiggin. Or wrong when it comes to e-book digital piracy at least.

According to the firm’s annual Digital Entertainment Survey, one in eight women over age 35 who owns an e-reader admits to having downloaded an illegal version of an e-book. That compares to just one in 20 women in the same age group who admits to having pirated music.

If copyright infringement is indeed becoming more popular among an age group that’s never really participated in digital piracy, that’s certainly bad news for publishers, who The Guardian surmises “fear they could suffer a similar fate to the record labels that have struggled to replace lost physical sales.”

After all, it isn’t just women over 35 that are putting unlicensed content on their e-readers. Across all ages and both genders, some 29% of e-reader owners admitted that they pirate books. And for tablet owners, that number is even higher – 36%. It doesn’t stop there: 25% of these people said they planned to continue to download pirated material.

Their reasons for doing so are varied: e-book prices, for example, already owning the same book in print, and the lack of availability of e-book titles in certain countries.

E-Books: The New Napster?

The High Low suggests this makes e-books “the new Napster,” as digital books become as popular and as novel (no pun intended) as mp3s were 15 years ago. But there may be a couple of key differences here. With Napster, it was often just a song or two that was downloaded, not an entire album. With books, people aren’t pirating chapters. Moreover, unlike Napster there isn’t really one clear go-to site where people can find unlicensed books, and there may be no clear legal target as there was in the case of the music-sharing site.

The question remains, however, if the increasing popularity and sales of tablets and e-readers will mean that digital e-book piracy rises accordingly.

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