Well, the inevitable has happened. An organized group of textbook pirates going by the name of Library Pirate have come up with a new way to reduce the cost of buying textbooks. Give them the funds to buy the digital textbooks you need and they will return the favor by releasing a DRM free copy for everyone to download.
They're calling it "Hire-a-Pirate". What's most interesting about the new service is that it specifically targets digital textbook rentals, not purchased one. I get the feeling that they are particularly irked by the expiration.
“After a little bit of this and a little of that, we strip the DRM from the PDF and contact the user letting them know the book is ready via torrent,” says LP’s admin. “The student can now carry the textbook with them anywhere for as long as they want, allowing the PDF to be easily read on any device.” And anyone else who needs the textbook can get it for free, too.
LP are also offering a free app that was developed by one of their members. Got a digital camera and time to spare? Then you can scan your paper textbook and use the app to create a digital copy which you can then upload. “LPBR will crop, sharpen and re-size the entire folder of camera scan images into one easily readable PDF book,” says LP’s admin. “It’s so easy to scan a textbook now, even a college student can do it. During our testing, we were able to scan and convert one 500 page book in under 2 hours.”
A little over a month ago I wrote a post that argued digital textbook piracy had not yet had its Napster moment. This could be it. It happened far faster than I expected, but there's now a coordinated effort to pirate digital textbooks.
The next year or so is going to be very interesting. I'm not sure how textbook publishers will respond to this turn of events, but I will be looking forward to finding out.