Do Books Need a Warning Label to Ward Off Pirates?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka


In our lead story today about the IPA Copyright Symposium held in Abu Dhabi this past Sunday and Monday, Marybeth Peters, register of copyrights, Library of Congress in the United States said that public perception of copyright is eroding and that publishers need to “engage” readers so that “copyright is seen as a good thing” and “not as an impediment” to consumption.

This raises the question: what exactly can publishers do to encourage readers to respect copyright and not pirate works and/or break copyright on authors’ works for their own ends? The movie industry places short, dramatic warnings at the front of DVDs, while sports organizations warn that “rebroadcast is not permitted without the express written consent” of the broadcasters. Such warnings may not prevent piracy, but do, in the end, raise the issue and may be enough to make someone think twice.

Is a similar warning needed for books? Does the publishing industry need to print a warning in the front of the books stating that “unauthorized reproduction” of the book “is a crime.” Or do e-books need a digital warning to flash on the screen each time a reader opens the books to read stating “do not copy this book without the express written consent of the publisher”? Would such warning ward off would be pirates? Or merely be seen as a joke? If so, what else might be done?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or via Twitter using hashtag #ppdiscuss.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.