Looking to discourage the posting of unauthorized digital copies of print books on the Internet, a science fiction publisher has begun placing a notice in its print books warning against the scanning and uploading of digital copies to the Internet without the publisher's permission. And it appears that Penguin Putnam, which distributes DAW, will urge its imprints to follow suit.
DAW Books' warning is similar to one found in mass market paperbacks. The paperback notice reminds retailers that removing and returning paperback covers for credit and then selling the coverless books at a discount is illegal. Readers who may have, um, inadvertently come into possession of such a stripped paperback are told: This book is stolen property.
DAW's e-notice reads in part: "The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials."
Sean Fodera, director of subsidiary rights, contracts and electronic publishing at DAW Books, told PW, "It's really a reaction to the new digital environment and to worries about piracy expressed by our authors." Fodera emphasized, "We're trying to advise readers, not scold them. We hope other publishers adopt similar policies."
When the publisher first considered using the notice, they consulted Penguin's legal department, said Alex Gigante, senior v-p of legal affairs for Penguin. "We think it's a good idea. In fact," he said, "we thought it was such a good idea that we're going to recommend it to all Penguin Putnam imprints. The imprints can decide for themselves whether they want to use it."
Andrew Burt, chair of the e-piracy committee of the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, told PW that pirated digital texts—from Tom Clancy to Stephen King—are regularly posted to Internet Usenet groups, the vast public e-mail message boards.
"I talked with one fellow who had 5,000 pirated digital titles," Burt said. But Burt isn't sure how many people are actually downloading these texts. Pirated copies, he said, "are pretty hideous to read, and the texts can be altered. We absolutely find pirated copies of our members' books posted all the time."