Remember Napster? As mp3 music downloads became a booming business, Napster provided an outlet for users to share music for free.
After several lawsuits citing copyright infringement, Napster declared bankruptcy and was sold off to Roxio, where it found new life as a legal membership-based music download service.
A similar issue is now facing eBooks and audiobooks. It should be noted that Napster’s downfall did not eliminate the issue of file sharing. There are still many sites that all users to upload music files and make them available for anyone to download. The same principles used for music file sharing are also being used for other electronic media.
Audiobook and eBooks:
Audiobook downloads are generally mp3 or similarly universally known file types. eBooks are also being produced in accessible formats so that they are used on various eBook readers. While this is fantastic in that users of any kind of device may access a myriad of content, it also makes illegal file sharing tempting.
Audiobooks, like books in print, have various levels of cost. Only books in the public domain, without copyright, are legally available for free download through reputable sites such as Project Gutenberg. The same holds true for eBooks.
File Sharing and the Difficulty of Control:
It is nearly impossible to control this illegal practice. File sharing services, such as RapidShare and MegaUpload identify files with strings of letters and numbers. Content is not indicated in any way. Users must find the appropriate file via link from another source.
No password is necessary and for most users (low use) the service is free. These sites were created as a way for people to share large files without burning media or using a flash drive. They were not conceived as a way to distribute media illegally.
According to the NY Times, 166 copies of the #1 bestseller, The Lost Symbol were found available for free on the Internet. If a publisher finds the files and identifies them, the file sharing site will most likely remove them. The problem is finding them all. These file sharing companies do not censor or filter content that is uploaded.
What Will You Download?
I enjoy reading books, listening to music, and watching movies. I do my best to set a good example for my children. Stealing is stealing. If I can’t afford the book I want to listen to, I go to the library or use OverDrive to borrow it from the library. Why steal it? I can borrow it for free. If I love it and want to own it, then I will pay for it. What will you do?