At the opening day’s second session on digital piracy, representatives from the U.K.-based Publishers Association (PA) and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) demonstrated a new online tool for publishers of all sizes to generate and send takedown notices to sites suspected of infringement. The Copyright Infringement Portal, developed in the U.K. and adapted and available for AAP members, can be licensed by organizations at a cost of roughly $400 to $2,400. The service researches and provides correct contact information for Internet sites suspected of piracy, offers a template for a takedown notice for users to fill in, and sends the notice via e-mail. The service, noted PA’s Emma House, is limited to generating and facilitating the delivery of notices. It is not a “discovery tool,” she noted, not a tool for finding counterfeit copies for sale on sites like eBay, and not for combating piracy via peer-to-peer networks. While the service may find some uptake among smaller publishers, it is unclear if the portal will be useful for larger publishers with legal departments that are already quite familiar with the takedown process.

Regardless of the tool’s utility, the battle over digital piracy is raging on, noted Simon Juden, CEO of the PA, and the AAP’s digital copyright executive, Ed McCoyd. In his opening remarks to the joint session, Juden took a cautious approach. He quoted an Arab proverb: “He who predicts the future is lying, even if he is telling the truth,” which Juden said stressed the need to be mindful of how the unpredictable digital market is developing, noting the mistakes of the music industry. He used statistics to demonstrate the challenges now facing publishers in the digital realm: some 45% of content on teens’ computers in the U.K. is free, he noted, and 69% of users think content should be free. The major challenge, he suggested, is to educate individuals about the value of copyright. “Users get copyright,” he said, citing the uproar over Facebook’s failed copyright grab in early 2009 as a positive sign that users do understand and respect the value of their intellectual property.

McCoyd told attendees about AAP’s enforcement efforts—nearly 16,000 takedown notices from April to August 2008, with 13,300 compliances. He said publishers were greatly concerned about new services like Rapidshare, Scribd and Wattpad, while noting that Scribd is compliant with takedown requests and has a system—though not a good enough system—to fight piracy on its site. “Even if the company does comply with takedown notices,” McCoyd said, “new material is constantly going up on the site.”

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