Thoughts on the Publishing Cold War – Pt. Final

All of this overlooks the largest elephant in the room. In October of 2004 Google engaged, with malice aforethought, in the world’s largest for profit book piracy ever. Despite all claims to the contrary, there is no way to disable Google’s for profit advertising from being pumped at you in an Android device using the default configuration of installed tools. Neither author nor copyright holder was paid. Rumor has it the Clinton’s were paid heavily through charitable donations and it probably didn’t hurt having Al Gore on the board of directors to also whisper in the ear of the DOJ so that no Google executive was ever arrested or imprisoned.

FBI Anti-piracy warning imageYou’ve all seen that logo when you pop in a DVD rental. You’ve all seen some form of the following language and chose to ignore it.

  • FBI Anti-Piracy Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
  • Advertencia Antipirateria del FBI: La reproducción o distribución no autorizada de una obra protegida por derechos de autor es ilegal. La infracción criminal de los derechos de autor, incluyendo la infracción sin lucro monetario, es investigada por el FBI y es castigable con pena de hasta cinco años en prisión federal y una multa de $250,000.

And below is the generic enforcement warning language:

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

None of that appears to apply when one gives enough money to the Clintons. If there were truth and enforcement to this the CEO and board of directors at Google would be serving 5 years per book on Google books. The 20% argument doesn’t hold water. The copyright owner does not control what 20% and it is a dynamic 20% based on search terms. Five good search terms done from different IP addresses can, in many cases, get you the entire book. As long as Google is pumping for profit ads at you, they don’t care.

Because of Google people have adopted the “all books are free” philosophy. In case you missed the post about book piracy in India, here it is. Or search this blog for “book piracy.”

The predictions in the “Publishing Cold War” link also ignore the coming Bitcoin/cryptocurrency induced financial near apocalypse. It does not take into account the massive class action working its way towards Google due to its massively outdated Linux kernel on all Android devices, including that phone you just bought.

Let us not forget, Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities have been “in the wild” for a goodly number of years. While heated debate continues over just how long, it was years, not minutes. The majority of systems which were going to be penetrated have been. Today’s hackers aren’t looking for a smash & grab. They aren’t looking crash your computer periodically with a funny, yet annoying

stoned virus screen shot
By kein Autor, da kein Werk – Own work based on: [1] (Discussion), Public Domain

Today’s hackers are looking for electronic gold. They nibble it away a little at a time, credit cards, identities or expensive orders billed to bogus credit cards once they get far enough into your system to generate their own orders and authorization codes. We’ve gone way beyond the “take a penny” COBOL programmer legends.

Btw, I read that snopes link. They don’t have it correct at all. The story was a long game. The COBOL programmer in question worked on both the payroll and accounting systems. He did “salami slice” paychecks, but the slice was put into an account he created within the accounting system. The money did not turn up as missing because it wasn’t. Not until the day he retired when it was used to pay a bill for a service which was never provided. The money landed in a bank account in a country without extradition where the programmer retired after 20+ years of loyal service to the company.

Today’s hackers play the same long game. Salami slicing a few accounts at a time to avoid detection. They hoard them up until the penetration is discovered, then sell them.

Why is that part of this discussion?

In under 5 years one or more of the big players in on-line commerce, trying to run their business on commodity Meltdown/Spectre vulnerable hardware with feeble PC based operating systems will be hit. Google, Apple, Amazon, insert-fortune-500-name-here. These are the trophy bass for hackers. Hell! Uber’s already been hit.

The difference between these hacks and the hacks to come is that one or more of these big names will be taken out. Offering 3 months of free credit monitoring isn’t going to get them off the hot seat. Target had to pay $10 million. By today’s standards, their breach was tiny. Equifax will most likely pay a couple of billion when this class action suit finally is settled.

These are all still tiny.

We are approaching a time in under 5 years where both the settlement and the loss of public trust will be so extensive a household name will fall. It will domino through the on-line retail industry and the industry will be forced to throw out current systems, replacing them with expensive, secured proprietary systems running on expensive, secured proprietary hardware. Much of this will be mandated by law.

I’m talking about an ENRON collapse followed by Sarbanes-Oxley type act.

Right now, my money is on Google being the one to fall. Not just because I hate the evil empire almost as much as the EU, but because this Android Meltdown/Spectre thing is a ticking time bomb with no real way to fix in the field. Not too far behind them is Amazon because Alexa/Echo is a security disaster. Let’s not forget Amazon itself has already been breached.

What does any of that have to do with book publishing or indie authors?

One of these on-line retailing giants will fall. When that happens and the public hearings over the new regulations occupy the nightly news for weeks/months on end, public trust in ecommerce will be gone. For a time foot traffic will increase in stores and local economies will once again have the benefits of sales tax and retailing jobs stolen from them by Amazon.

The end.

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