The Epidemic of Book Piracy in India

Boys selling pirated books in India image
Boys selling pirated books in India

It started out with PC software piracy. Now that nobody uses Microsoft products, that part of Indian piracy has stopped. Thanks to all of these “multinational” corporations off-shoring good paying tech jobs to a slave labor market, and shipping high end printers capable of printing and binding books to their corporate campuses, book piracy is rampant. In many cases, the pirates don’t even pay for supplies, opting to pirate a few books per day using their “multinational” corporation employer’s printer and supplies.

I know this book of mine has been heavily pirated over there. According to one email I got years ago, demanding I send him the entire book in Word format so he could put it on the company server, what started the piracy of the title was Google Books. I mean, why should anyone in India think it is illegal to pirate books? Google did it. Without compensating the copyright holder even a nickel, they electronically pirated countless titles and offered them up on Google Books making massive fortunes selling advertising while people read the content Google never paid for. Are the CEO and board of directors in prison until their bones turn to dust? Nope. Google executives are free to shoot heroin with hookers on their yaughts.

Now I read in the September 25, 2017 issue of Time magazine just how institutionalized this has become within the culture and the government. Here is a quote from an interview with Salman Rushdie found in that issue.

(It’s impossible to know how many millions of copies the book has sold, because pirated editions are highly popular in India. “There was a point where the pirated edition was selling so many copies that the pirates started sending me greetings cards,” he says. “‘Happy New Year, best wishes, the pirates.’ Literally that.”)

That quote really says it all. The Indian government doesn’t care and most likely is an active participant, via bribes and corruption if not more direct means. If the American government cared all of Google’s upper management would be serving time in medium security prison until long after their bones turned to dust.

Oh, how did that email person claim to get my book? Screen scrapes and screen shots. You can only block someone from stealing content if the browser they are using actually supports that feature.

What about that much vaulted “20% of content?” You know, Google’s “staying out of prison for now” card. Well, according to the thief and a little bit of investigation on my own, it’s not a fixed 20%, but 20% relative to your search term. He/she got a handful of friends together and using the table of contents which was listed on the site for the book, and somehow part of the index, they kept searching for keywords until they got all of the pages. I suspect they only got most of the pages given the level of effort the individual appeared willing to exert.

That’s how Google cost me millions.

I’ve spoken with various H1-Bs over here as well as “technical recruiters” via their VOIP phone. They all know the book because they’ve seen it in the piracy street vendor piles.

book piracy image
Street vendors selling pirated books

They say it sells well at what amounts to $5 American (well below the cost of physically printing in America, that book is nearly 800 pages). It has a ready-made market because many/most companies running OpenVMS around the world off-shored at least some of their system support and programming. There are basically two ways to train the off-shore labor. Get them a copy of this book or send them to some very pricey training at HP.

So, when you get right down to it the “multinational” corporations which have moved over there as well as the “consulting” companies providing on-shore/off-shore bodies are both encouraging and directly benefiting from book piracy. The only ones getting screwed are the publishers and authors. Many of them installed the very print technology being used to pirate said books and are even providing the supplies their employees use to print pirated books.


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