Book piracy cost 771 million euros in 2021


In 2021, a new report says, Italians committed an average of 322,000 acts of book piracy per day, a major challenge for publishing.

During the GLI Editori session on book piracy in 2021 at the Ministry of Culture in Rome, March 30. Image: IEA

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

Levi: “Piracy affects all Italian creative industries”

DDuring the still ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, book piracy cost the Italian book publishing industry 771 million euros ($856.7 million) as well as around 5,400 jobs.

That’s the main finding of a second round of IPSO-led research published today (March 29) by Gli Editori, a research partnership formed by the Association of Italian Publishers (Association Italiana EditoriAIE) and the Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers (Federazione Italiana Editori Giornali, FIEG). This is a follow-up to the 2019 study, which we reported on when it was published in January 2020.

To get an idea of ​​the magnitude of the evaporation of some of the potential revenues due to piracy, consider that the figures gathered for this report represent one third of the overall market, 31%, excluding the sectors of the education and export.

Ricardo Franco Levi, President of the AIE, Vice-President of the Federation of European Publishers and Special Rome Commissioner for the Frankfurt Italian Guest of Honor program 2024, is quoted in today’s report, saying: ” People need to be aware of this, and aware that they can be called to account for the illegal acts they commit. Institutions must commit to it.

“Piracy affects all of Italy’s creative industries – book and magazine publishing, television, film and music – and where effective counter-campaigns have been launched, such as pay-TV subscriptions, the results are starting to show. .”

Newspaper publishers federation president Andrea Riffeser Monti says support for the repressive actions of the Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazion, or AGCOM, “both from a sanctioning and procedural point of view, must be considered as an indispensable complement to the relevant regulations and is of fundamental importance to the newspaper publishing industry, especially in view of the huge losses suffered by publishing companies due to the proliferation of channels, chats and sites dedicated to the unauthorized distribution of newspapers, losses estimated, according to a very conservative analysis carried out by the offices of the FIEG in April 2020, at around 250 million euros per year (276 million US dollars).

“The various bills currently under discussion also testify to the now widespread awareness of the need to intervene,” he said, “in order to prevent and, where necessary, repress the illicit dissemination of protected by copyright through electronic communication networks, as well as in order to ensure fair remuneration.

IPSOS Chairman Nando Pagnoncelli was present at this morning’s session to present the data.

The huge amount of piracy revealed by the new research shows that education is important for those who don’t know what constitutes an illegal means of acquiring content – as well as, according to the program today, enforcement of penalties imposed on those who run illegal sites.

From left to right, during the presentation of data from the IPSOS piracy study on March 30 in Rome, Nando Pagoncelli of IPSOS, Andrea Riffeser Monti of the federation of newspaper publishers and Ricardo Franco Levi of AIE . Image: IEA

Special Offenders: University Students, Professionals

As many in the global publishing industry know, piracy is not always carried out by knowledgeable criminals. Once a site is set up to offer intellectual property without payment to creators and copyright holders, much of the actual piracy work is done by consumers who don’t realize they deprive authors, publishers and others of their legitimate income or those who feel that their one petty offense – “I’m just going to download this one thing I wanted” – is not part of a scam scheme too important as it is.

This is what produces some of the most telling figures in the new report from IPSOS: “Daily in 2021, Italians committed an average of 322,000 acts of commercial, academic and professional book piracy, up 5% from to 2019”.

Today’s data is dated October 2021 and covers the previous 12 months. In a glimmer of hope, the IEA and newspaper editors tell members of the news media: “Compared to the 2019 survey, the tools for detecting the issue have been refined and for this reason all data are not comparable” between the first and the second study.

“However, they point out, it is a growing phenomenon. The estimated impact of acts of piracy in 2021 – fewer book copies sold, fewer ebook and audiobook downloads – is actually 117.6 million, up 5% from 112 million in 2019.” And that’s the basis for the daily average hacking level of 322,000 incidents per day.

“In 2021,” data from the report tells us, “35% (36% two years ago) of the population committed at least one act of piracy involving only fiction and non-fiction books. Demographics among those aged 15 and over:

  • University students: 81% of university students (80% two years ago) have committed acts of piracy, study finds
  • Professionals: 56% have committed at least one act of piracy involving commercial fiction and/or non-fiction (61% two years ago) have committed piracy, according to the study

Among the most concerning elements of the new study’s contributions, 82% of those polled by IPSOS said they were indeed aware that book piracy was illegal and illegal, but 64% said they believed they would not be arrested or punished. (That figure was actually higher two years ago, at 84%.) And 39% said they simply didn’t consider it a “serious or very serious” violation at all.

According to the study’s estimates, the actual loss of revenue from all this piracy activity could be as high as €423 million (US$468 million) per year, the report’s authors concluded, seeing as much as 36 million copies, or units) lost to piracy. annually in Italy.

In universities, some 6 million copies, print and digital, are pirated every year, professional books being pirated at 2.8 million copies.

Of these 35% of the Italian population aged 15 and over:

  • E-books and/or audiobooks were downloaded by 23% at least once from an illegal site on the Internet, according to the study
  • About 17% have received at least one ebook from friends or family members
  • At least 7% appear to have received at least one photocopied book from friends and/or acquaintances
  • About 5% bought at least one photocopied book
  • Subscription access codes from friends were received by 6% for eBooks and audiobooks

The authors of the study speak of “satellite” companies and effects. One of them is the finding that physical bookstores have lost 243 million euros in one year. Another: Online retailers lost 455 million revenue to piracy, both print and digital, and 73 million units were lost to piracy, according to the study, of subscription programs to audio book or e-book services.

And in the comments for today’s presentation, the author (The Lions of Sicily) and educator Stefania Auci addressed the assembly saying: “Very often the idea of ​​those who pirate, especially when it comes to the publication of various fictions and essays, is that of not not cause prejudice to the writer or publisher of the book, who in any case will receive the profit from the publication. But this is not true.

The workforce behind publishing a book, she said, includes “editors, proofreaders, distributors, booksellers. Hacking affects each of these professionals. The pirated book is all these people. A simple click takes away resources and dignity from those who work. »

Stefania Auci, left, and others at Gli Editori’s session on piracy, March 30. Image: IEA

The IPSOS research focused on a sample of 4,000 interviews carried out in October 2021.

To find out more about Publishing Perspectives’ coverage of the Italian market, click here. And more information on international piracy issues is here, while more on copyright is here.

To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.


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