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Education Books Piracy

Ebook Pirates Are Relatively Old and Wealthy, Study Finds (torrentfreak.com) 153

A new study has found that people who illegally download ebooks are older and wealthier than most people's perception of the average pirate. From a report on TorrentFreak: Commissioned by anti-piracy company Digimarc, the study suggests that people aged between 30 and 44 years old with a household income of between $60k and $99k are most likely to grab a book without paying for it. [...] In previous studies, it has been younger downloaders that have grabbed much of the attention, and this one is no different. Digimarc reveals that 41 percent of all adult pirates are aged between 18 and 29 but perhaps surprisingly, 47 percent fall into the 30 to 44-year-old bracket. At this point, things tail off very quickly, as the remaining 13 percent are aged 45 or up.
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Ebook Pirates Are Relatively Old and Wealthy, Study Finds

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Younger people pirate video games and DC Universe movies.
    • by Altus ( 1034 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:35AM (#54058735) Homepage

      DC Universe movies.

      I certainly couldn't imagine paying to watch them.

      • by jwhyche ( 6192 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @02:14PM (#54060275) Homepage

        That is the new form of copy protection. Just make it so bad that nobody would want to copy it.

    • TRIGGERED! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:38AM (#54058785) Homepage Journal
      kids these days [bartleby.com] don't read.

      Also - reading correlates with "relatively wealthy"
      • Re:TRIGGERED! (Score:5, Informative)

        by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:01PM (#54059597)

        And he was right. The civilization that he was trying to protect no longer exists.

        My neighbor's kid was telling me last night that they "don't do things like study apostrophes any more" in school, relating to a science presentation that he'd finished. He's in the 7th grade gifted program and didn't know many grammar rules of any kind.

        • ... He's in the 7th grade gifted program and didn't know many grammar rules of any kind.

          But I bet he got an honorary participation award in English ;-)

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          My daughter is a crazy about grammer rules, her school is obviously teaching them.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        My experience has been that with eBooks prompting a lot of people to dump their bookcases, I can build a fabulous library just by regularly browsing the 'clearance' shelves at Half-Price books. There are a lot of fabulous classics for $2 these days. I got the Oxford edition of Shakespeare for $2 recently.

        • by johanw ( 1001493 )

          I can build an even bigger library with a lot of fabulous classics for $0 these days. I can sometims even download the pirated copy before Amazon starts selling it, like with the last part of the great schools of Dune trilogy.

    • More like you don't get wealthy by wasting money you don't have to.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:25AM (#54058615)
    Welcome to the third world.
    • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:27AM (#54058649)

      I've somehow woken up in the universe of Logan's Run!

      LastDay anyone? :)

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      I'm just glad to see I'm considered wealthy by someone's metric. It is tempered, however, with the sadness that I am also now considered "old". (I'm 30 and make about 60k)
      • It varies widely depending on where you are, but the median income in the US for adult workers is 30k [wikipedia.org] You will be pleased to realize that you make double what the average person makes! Mean is dragged up by the ultra rich, to 44k, but you make more than that too!
    • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:43AM (#54058837)

      "-er"

      Do note that "er" on the end. It's important. "Older" is NOT the same as "old". My youngest is older than my dog, for instance. And wealthier too. Of course, that's not saying much, since the dog has no money, and is only two...

    • by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @12:07PM (#54059097)

      The key word is "relatively". 30 to 44 is indeed older than we could have expected.

      Also $60K puts you in the global 0.19% according to http://www.globalrichlist.com/ [globalrichlist.com]
      It's definitely rich on a world-wide scale, and no, you don't need to compare only the third world. Even in developed countries that must easily be in the top 20%.
      But hey, it's easier to complain when you think you are poor.

      • Also $60K puts you in the global 0.19% according to http://www.globalrichlist.com/ [globalrichlist.com] It's definitely rich on a world-wide scale, and no, you don't need to compare only the third world. Even in developed countries that must easily be in the top 20%. But hey, it's easier to complain when you think you are poor.

        I always think that anyone who resorts to saying that you're rich relative to Haiti and such is a tool of the 1%. Hey no worries that the middle class is dropping like a rock and the American dream of owning a house is slipping away, quit complaining because relative to Haiti you're actually quite rich.

        • Except I am not talking about Haiti and such but the world average. And I even said you could compare to the average of developed countries.

          With $60k+, we are part of the rich, like it or not. The 1% is not people with private jets and huge mansions. That's the 0.0001%, and I am probably forgetting some 0's. The 1% is us, people with good jobs in developed countries.

          • Except I am not talking about Haiti and such but the world average. And I even said you could compare to the average of developed countries.

            With $60k+, we are part of the rich, like it or not. The 1% is not people with private jets and huge mansions. That's the 0.0001%, and I am probably forgetting some 0's. The 1% is us, people with good jobs in developed countries.

            As someone noted below 1% means ~$700K earnings a year and a net worth >$8M. That is certainly a mansion if you want it and a shared private jet if you want it. I strongly suggest you look again at the facts before you assert that $60k is rich but 1% somehow isn't lavish.

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Well Haiti is a good comparison as that is what our billionaire overlords have planned for us. Remember how much better off the average Haitian is compared to the average Cuban. None of that horrible free medical care, even lower wages then the average Cuban but if they can pay, they do get Internet and in theory, they can lift themselves up by their bootstraps and join the rich. They're allowed to bitch more as well, which proves they're free.

          Never understood the average person voting for the aristocracy (

      • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @03:35PM (#54061059)

        30-44 is also the age of the people who were in school (and just out of school) when file sharing took off in the mainstream (napster was 17 years ago...).

        They would be the group I would expect to be the biggest "pirates" - they're the group who got the internet as a free download anything you want wild west. Younger people got the app store style pay a few dollars experience instead.

        Of course, 14 years is far too big an age range given the domain is internet related it includes some before and after that time frame.

        • I doubt it changed that much. Torrents are still there and young people even started "streaming" (they often don't even understand they are pirating) TV shows and movies, this was clearly not possible 20 years ago (it was technically possible, but bandwidth was worth more so not a lot of people wanted to saturate their connection only for some random pirates to be able to watch a show).

      • This damn site tells me I'm in the top 2.54%.

        I would hate myself if I made it into that 1% bracket.

        Additionally, I am in that age range of 30 - 44, white male, and I pirate ebooks on occasion. It's mostly an activity of convenience combined with my hate for DRM mechanisms. Recently, I grabbed a book on golang, used it for 30 minute and then deleted it. Would of regretted buying the book in any form and it only took me 30 minutes to figure that out.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      The median range where I live is around $38k/year(poverty wage is $19k/year). The average wage across Canada around $49k/year and $52k/year in the US. So yes, $60k/year is wealthy. Now maybe if you live somewhere, where rent for 550sqft is $2000/mo and you're paying $15/lbs for kale, yeah $60k isn't going to reach very far. In my neck of the woods, you could not only live comfortably on $60k but live a lifestyle beyond the scope of your neighbors in the average middle class neighborhood. And to be real

    • Welcome to the third world.

      Actual third world here. 40 years old and $18k income. I usually purchase ebooks when they're reasonably priced, meaning about $10 or less. When they cost $150 (or $39 for an article) because they're Harvard-library-priced, yeah, I pirate it. Also: when there's no ebook version (I love the underground movement that scans old out-of-print books); or when there is but it isn't sold to my region for some reason; or when it's priced higher for my region.

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        I download alot of ebooks and read at least one or two books a week on average. I fall into this category, but despite my high household income I'm under 200% of poverty (large family).
  • Also I question the income levels - Lower income peoples mainly have cell phones in place of pads/computers which, while they may have bigger screens, aren't great for ebook reading. (Of course those with lower incomes don't tend to read as much either)

    I'd be interested to cross reference this data with video piracy...

    • Re:30-44 is old? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:32AM (#54058701)

      Yeah, the reality is - the internet and World Wide Web are old enough now that some people who grew up with them are now in their 30s.

  • Sharing Paper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:26AM (#54058637)

    Older people - of which I am one, are accustomed to being able to share books. Book clubs, used book stores, sharing your favorite new read with a friend is part of the culture. The notion that you pay once and can never share with someone - yet pay close to the same price as paper - is both insulting and greedy.

    • Re:Sharing Paper (Score:5, Insightful)

      by the_Bionic_lemming ( 446569 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:35AM (#54058741)

      Yep, I was going to post that as well. I have a library of over 5000 paperbacks, It's fun introducing people to Remo Williams, or Tarl Cabot, Casca and many others :)

      • Re:Sharing Paper (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:50AM (#54058923)

        Yep, I was going to post that as well. I have a library of over 5000 paperbacks, It's fun introducing people to Remo Williams, or Tarl Cabot, Casca and many others :)

        Interesting that the same argument made by the "younger" generation - we're used to sharing, is now being used by "those of a certain age" to explain theirs. From a cultural standpoint, it's interesting to see how a norm, in this case passing around books, translates to a similar behavior in the eWorld. That has ramifications for a whole lot of industries. For example, if the really younger generation gets used to using Uber vs buying a car what happens when they start raising families. Will tehy automagically start buying minivans or will Uber morph int a Parent Taxi service?

        • Sharing a book is legal.

          Sharing a file isn't because you agreed to the EULA.

          I don't support that model, but then again I don't have e-books.

    • Re:Sharing Paper (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @12:19PM (#54059209) Journal
      Older people like me are also accustomed to being able to buy books, and not be hit with arbitrary regional restrictions. Imagine the lady at the checkout of your favourite book store or library putting aside a couple of books from your selection: "I am sorry sir, but you can't have those". That has been my main reason to pirate ebooks: region locks and availability. Thankfully the situation is improving, and publishers are learning not to piss off their customer this way.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Older people like me are also accustomed to being able to buy books, and not be hit with arbitrary regional restrictions. Imagine the lady at the checkout of your favourite book store or library putting aside a couple of books from your selection: "I am sorry sir, but you can't have those". That has been my main reason to pirate ebooks: region locks and availability. Thankfully the situation is improving, and publishers are learning not to piss off their customer this way.

        Incorrect analogy.

        Because for start

    • Older people - of which I am one, are accustomed to being able to share books. Book clubs, used book stores, sharing your favorite new read with a friend is part of the culture. The notion that you pay once and can never share with someone - yet pay close to the same price as paper - is both insulting and greedy.

      You haven't priced ebooks lately. Most of them are considerably more expensive than having a physical copy shipped to you. Take for instance the classic 1984 [amazon.com]. A paperback copy can be bought brand new including shipping for $6.51. On Kindle, it is 50% more, at $9.99. I love my Kindle, but I refuse to pay the premium price that publishers are charging for the books. On books that are priced this way, I'll either borrow a copy from the library or pirate it.

      • by tbuskey ( 135499 )

        You haven't priced ebooks lately. Most of them are considerably more expensive than having a physical copy shipped to you. Take for instance the classic 1984 [amazon.com]. A paperback copy can be bought brand new including shipping for $6.51. On Kindle, it is 50% more, at $9.99. I love my Kindle, but I refuse to pay the premium price that publishers are charging for the books. On books that are priced this way, I'll either borrow a copy from the library or pirate it.

        And 1984 is out of copyright in many non-US countries. It's on Project Gutenberg.

        Given that, and its subject matter, I was amused by Amazon's remote removal of it [nytimes.com]. That's the strongest case for DRM removal I can think of.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    These "old" people were born in a time when a book or pretty much any other thing sold had transferrable value intrinsic to the object.
    The brave new eWorld of digital content, the best you can acquire is a license to use the content in specified ways, often restricting the ability to transfer the license.
    It's not surprising that people with the expectation that any thing bought would be transferrable might rebel against the notion of a limited rights use license.

    • They tell me I'm buying the book, but I do not actually own even the copy on my "device" in any meaningful sense. But ... if somebody obtains a copy without permission of the copyright holder, somehow that becomes theft of "intellectual property."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:38AM (#54058781)

    Its kind of OK if they are priced the same, but I will never ever buy a EBook that costs more than the physical copy.

    The publisher needs to learn and set proper prices on EBooks.

    • by trawg ( 308495 )

      The publisher needs to learn and set proper prices on EBooks.

      I think as important is publishers need to learn that the world is one place and they should sell books everywhere.

      I've been trying to buy "Dream Park" by Larry Niven for the last few weeks. It seems to be restricted by territory for sale in the UK. I can find ebookstores in France (Amazon) and Netherlands (can't remember) that sell the English version but I cannot find anywhere in the UK that sells it at all.

      I'm sure I can pirate it but haven't been bothered yet as I have other stuff to read. LET US FUCKI

  • by Anonymous Coward

    if i were paying double for an ebook vs a physical book, that i wouldn't actually even really "own" or be able to share -- i'd probably consider the whole thing a joke and pirate too... just saying...

  • Since younger generation consumes less books, it would make sense they don't pirate them, leaving mostly the older pirates to account for majority of book pirating.

  • I'm barely over 60 and 'wealthy' is a stretch.

  • Paid once already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bensafrickingenius ( 828123 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:55AM (#54058989)
    I know this doesn't make it right to anyone but me, but I've been torrenting audiobooks and ebooks left and right OF TITLES I'VE ALREADY PAID FOR AT LEAST ONCE BEFORE. I have a long commute now, hence the desire for audio rereads of old favorites. I also do ALL of my reading on my Kindle app now -- I feel no guilt about obtaining the content I paid for on paper in different formats. I know, I'm a monster, right?
    • So in short, you don't want the voice actors and sound technicians to be paid, only the author?

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      So you feel that the people who record the audio book, the voice actors, the sound engineers, etc., provide no added value and deserve nothing for their efforts?

    • It makes it perfectly right to me, if that makes you feel any better?

      Same thing I do for movies and recordings. MafiAA insists that I don't actually own what I buy, I only own the 'right' to listen/watch it. So I do...whether I have the physical media any longer or not. I bought it once, the author & artists involved have been paid for my use, so which vector I use to get it is none of their fucking business.

  • For $9.99 I can listen to almost all the music in the world... or I can read a single eBook

    Not any eBook either. Most current bestsellers are $12.99.

    There are some all-you-can-eat services like Oyster or Scribd, but a lot of major publisher's don't participate. Once the major publishers throw their hats into the ring, they'd probably start to see revenue from people who are currently pirating.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @12:19PM (#54059215)

    I blame "whole word reading".

    Pople who learned to read that way simply do not read for pleasure. They read when they are required to do so, but not otherwise.

    If you are a "whole word reader", and you encounter a word you've never seen before, it's off to the dictionary to look up the new ideogram (since that how the words are taught using that method), even if you actually use the word daily when speaking.

    I've occasionally wondered if we are going to have to make books available in "text speak", in the same way that we make them available in braille, in order to comply with the Americans With Disabilities act.

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @12:29PM (#54059301)
    It is difficult to spend money on an industry that saves printing charges and shipping charges on physical books yet in some cases charges more for the ebook than the physical version. Demonstration of the fact that 'the people' aren't getting most of the benefits of technology.
    • Paper and digital each have their advantages, and we're better off having a choice. I don't mind paying more for the one I want more.

  • No wonder searching for a book download is such a hazardous endeavor. I see a ton of garbage, adware, BSOD web page scams, and worse all coming in off searches for " download". Interesting that I almost never see this with music.
  • I'm 40 and I do quite a bit of eBook pirating. http://gen.lib.rus.ec/ [lib.rus.ec] makes it so easy. The books are largely in Russian, though there are many English books, but now I have a reason to put learning Russian higher in my priorities.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know, these "older" pirates are the same ones who started in Junior High using a "locksmith" program to pirate games like Aztec, hack their C64s, clock chip their 286 and use resource editors to screw with Mac System 6. We're all much older now but the early skills are still with us. Yes, we'll pay for music, the occasional movie and software as we've got disposable incomes. Not entirely barbarians anymore, but I know I'll occasionally crank up usenet and take a tour...

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @12:55PM (#54059531)

    Take a look at the chart the illustration, [torrentfreak.com] Maybe it's just me but it kinda looks like charts that reflect who has a computer and who is proficient with it.

  • DRM-free PDF books are great and most of the alternatives are shit. Who wants to carry around a 1000pp math book when you can read it on your laptop?
    • PDFs are awkward to read except at the original size. I have a large-screen low-end Android tablet for them. ePub and similar formats allow easy reading on an arbitrary screen with arbitrary type size.

  • Give me ebooks that are reasonably priced, and deliver them as media where I have the freedom to select how I digest them. Give me this and I will buy the books. Anything involving special apps, with limited device support or DRM restricted software is an instant fail, match the convenience of unrestricted PDF or at least the plain old paper book or I will see myself out the door.
  • by hackel ( 10452 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @01:46PM (#54059995) Journal

    Downloading eBooks (or anything else) isn't illegal. *Distributing* them is, without the proper permission/license. It's the person who is sharing who is at fault, not the receiver. Don't let the corporate IP police fool or scare you. I support every author who sells directly to consumers. I will not support giant publishing corporations who screw over authors as a routine order of business.

    Support self-published authors, people!!

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Downloading eBooks (or anything else) isn't illegal. *Distributing* them is, without the proper permission/license.

      Correction: *copying* them without the proper permission/license is what's illegal.

      In the case of printed books, if you obtained an illegally-distributed book and read it, then you wouldn't be doing any copying.

      But in the case of ebooks, if you obtained an illegally-distributed book and read it on your computer, the act of reading it on computer inevitably makes a copy in the computer's memory or cache or disk. The copyright act specifically says that copies this made this way are exempt from copyright rest

    • by MercTech ( 46455 )

      One bit of hilarity is getting a copyright take down notice for a document you wrote yourself because a large publication quoted you and now claims copyright on the quote.

  • I don't find the age range surprising at all. That's pretty much the last generation that read much, so it makes sense that they would also be downloading more books.

    There are lots of reports saying younger people do not read as much [npr.org] as they used to.

  • Older people tend to have more books than younger people. I know I would feel completely within my rights to download a digital version of a book that I already own a hard copy of. For that matter, I would feel within my rights to download a digital version of a movie or music I already own, rather than go through the trouble of finding, then ripping the media.
  • I have pirated a book that I wrote (Amazon won't let you buy it twice, and I couldn't get it to download without buying... I could have made a new account, but a quick google search turned up a pirated copy.

    I have bought an ebook on my phone because I accidentally left the physical book at home and I wanted to read it, for many of my favorite books I have bought a physical copy to loan out and an ebook copy to read on my kindle.

    Basically I love books and don't consider my causal nonchalant piracy to be
  • Interesting as I'm in this age group and I actually find most ebooks at an acceptable price that I'm willing to pay for them rather than look elsewhere. I think this is more to do with the fact Amazon have a pretty good system of letting me use any suitable device I own.
  • I think the older generation have seen enough companies and technologies come and go over the years to know that paying for DRM's content is a really bad idea. Try buying a book you recently heard about in an open format that you can read on all of your devices and with no reading dependencies on some companies whim or longevity. The odds are above even that pirated content is going to be easier to find in a format that can be trusted. Money may be a factor but don't under estimate the mistrust old peopl
  • The demographic described in this story must be the most likely to comprehend that eBook prices don't make any damn sense. The publishers want $10-$15 for a text file. How is this justifiable? For many titles, that's the price for a hardback copy! A paper book is almost always cheaper than an eBook, but requires actual physical resources for creation and delivery, and has resale value.

    Various providers have figured out how to eliminate piracy for music and movies. Is reading books just such a dead past

  • The experience....

    Hear about a new book.....

    Put title or author into Google
    Get returns for 8 pirate download sites and 4 sales sites.
    Click on sales site.
    Get inundated with adverts to the point you can't read the listing of books.
    Click on another sales site
    Get to the fourth web page trying to register to use the side and get disgusted
    Click on another sales site.
    See that they want over $20 for a digital version of the book you are interested in.
    Click on the last sales site.
    Have the shopping cart bomb three ti

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