Faced with soaring prices for textbooks, cash-strapped students have discovered a tempting, effective, but illicit alternative – pirated electronic books, available for free over the Internet.
“We think its a significant problem,” said William Sampson, manager of infringement and antipiracy at Cengage Learning Inc., a reference book publisher in Farmington Hills, Mich. Sampson said that in any given month, 200 to 300 of the companys titles are posted illegally as free Internet downloads. Distributing books for free without permission violates copyright laws and deprives publishers of revenue.
Its not just textbooks that are being downloaded improperly. Ed McCoyd, director of digital policy at the Association of American Publishers in New York, said a survey in May located about 1,100 titles available illegally online, including novels and books on current events.
But textbook piracy is particularly seductive, McCoyd said, because students are often hard-pressed to pay for academic books that can cost more than $100, three times the price of most other books.