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Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 09:43 GMT 10:43 UK
Literary pirates go online
Stephen King
Horror writer Stephen King wrote an e-book
Horror writer Stephen King has topped a list of the most pirated books by well-known writers on the internet, sparking fears of a Napster-style problem for book publishers.

A survey by a British internet monitoring service, Envisional, has revealed that nearly 7,300 copyrighted books are available to download free.

Douglas Adams
Hitchhiker's Guide author, Douglas Adams, is popular
It has discovered top titles are being "swapped on Napster-like file sharing systems and posted on the internet for free in their thousands".

Napster is an internet music-swapping service which drew angry accusations of copyright infringements from musicians and Envisional predicts that the publishing world is facing the same troubles.

A spokesman said: "The internet has enabled intellectual property theft - of the spoken word, still and moving images and music - on an almost unimaginable scale."

Top writers

Science fiction and fantasy titles have proved more common candidates for piracy.

Behind Stephen King in the league of top writers is Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Tom Clancy and Douglas Adams.

Pirates use two methods of placing books on the web, which allow users to download and print out copies.

Harry Potter books
JK Rowling has also been the victim of pirating
One is to scan text and then convert it into e-formulas.

A more complicated method is to "crack" copies of existing e-books such as King's novella Riding the Bullet.

This means getting hackers to disable the protection system around the file, allowing them to gain free access.

Clare Griffiths, a lawyer at intellectual property specialists Briffa, said: "Copying e-books and downloading them is a straight-forward copyright infringement by the pirate."

She suggested the easiest way of tackling the problems is to contact the internet service provider which hosts the illegal material.

There are also companies such as Envisional which protect intellectual property through security systems.

See also:

25 Jul 00 | Entertainment
King's e-book experiment a success
03 Apr 01 | Business
Music giants form Napster rival
24 Jul 01 | New Media
New boss for Napster
20 Jul 01 | Business
Napster use slumps 65%
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