Be aware: Audiobook piracy is growing

On a cold winter day in New Jersey (to any Californian, anything below 70 is winter), I was sitting with my friends around a table when I heard a gasp. “What? This title is being pirated? I can’t believe it! That’s one of our best selling titles!” The consternation was caused by finding titles from this publisher on a sharing website. After a little more searching, we found even more on a host of torrent, peer to peer, and other sharing sites. I was then tasked to research how much pirated content was out there and if there was much we could do as an association to stop it.


Here are some things I learned. First, piracy in audiobooks is growing. It is visible in the amount of titles that have arisen in the last few years. As the audiobook industry grows, so has the piracy. More people are using audiobooks, and there are triple-digit increases in titles being produced. Second, it is far easier to pirate titles now than several years ago. The significant increase in download speeds makes file sharing faster and users are more comfortable downloading and using audio files. Third, there is a difference of opinion of how important this really is. I have had others working for publishers tell me that the amount of pirated content is negligible and not really something to be concerned about. In addition, the sharing of these files may encourage a purchase of an ebook or print book. Essentially, additional awareness of the book, whether legal or illegal, helps the overall sales of the book. A recent report tends to refute that.

In fact, the majority of the reports over the last few years do state that piracy does affect sales.

Over the last few months, I made contact with three leading service providers all working with a variety of publishers to combat piracy. I spoke with each one to see how effective they were in eliminating titles in search results, as well as getting titles pulled from various sharing sites and cyber lockers. I learned that each of them has grown in their technology and ability to specifically target audiobook piracy. They all have enhanced the tools they use and have accumulated data to help in this area. That was and is welcome news.

Each of them can customize plans for publishers addressing the amount of titles, range of actions, and budget. Recently, Digimarc hosted a webinar for publishers that was helpful and also has recent case study information.

If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact them.

Todd Hoyt
eChristian and christianaudio