Stuff I think you should know

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince

Unsurprisingly, the Harry Potter book is all over Bit Torrent and other file sharing services. Complete scanned and OCR’d files appeared less than a half-day after the book’s release for some individuals that do not want to line J.K Rowling’s pockets. Author J.K. Rowling has been branded a "Luddite fool" for inadvertently encouraging fans to pirate the latest Harry Potter book only hours after its official release. But within hours, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had been scanned and put online by an underground collection of fans capitalizing on Rowling's decision not to release an official e-book version.

After fellow fantasy fans contributed the missing scans and chipped in to run optical-character-recognition software on the pages, a Russian website used by the team to host the ripped book received 80,000 hits, according to the individual. Unauthorized versions of the book are available in Word, PDF and plain-text formats suitable for handhelds and other devices, alongside an audio recording thought to be the as-yet-unreleased official narration.

The electronic book is not in as much distress as the CD is; there is no problem solved by unauthorized book files being illegally copied and shared over the internet and Google. Also, the e-book market has refused to gain significance because of piracy, and because of the same ridiculous DRM issues that plague music: proprietary file formats and incompatible handheld players. "For the next book, we're going to be prepared," said the Half-Blood Prince scanner. "The people who'll be helping me will be at their computers waiting for me to get home with it and I'll be calling in sick to work for a day or two so I can scan it without interruptions."


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