Harry Potter's Pirates

The publishing business is on a roll lately. But it could be doing about seven billion dollars a year better — if it wasn't being robbed blind by pirate book sellers.

Pirate buster Ian Taylor told CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips that author J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter books are some of the most frequently pirated in the world.

It's Taylor's job to find the crooks already waiting across the globe to steal the next Harry Potter book, set for release later this month, and many others, and flog the pirated versions from Bangkok to Brooklyn to Beijing.

Some countries included in the worldwide chain of pirating centers that routinely produce books and their by-products illegally are: China, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, Nigeria, Taiwan, and Malaysia.

And the ease of publishing in the digital age has allowed pirating to spread like a bad rash across the book hungry third world to countries like Nigerian, the Ukraine, and several countries in the Far East.

"In Iran for instance they're waiting for the new edition of Harry Potter to come out in a few weeks time and there will be ten translations of that book on the market within days or weeks — all completely unauthorized," said Taylor.

Taylor said some bogus editions are even exported back to the west, prompting book busters to recruit local lawyers, sleuths and police.

Recent raids in India have netted more than 70,000 counterfeit bestsellers.

"A book like this costs a dollar to manufacture, the maximum," said Akash Chittranshi, a lawyer in India, holding a copy of Harry Potter. "And the pirate sells it for about $2 1/2 to the consumer while the general book comes for $8."

While pirated books may be a bargain for the buyer, their sales undercut honest publishers and have destroyed entire publishing industries in some countries.

Legitimate publishers take a risk every time they order a print run.
Every book that comes off the presses does so with a little prayer that someone will buy it. The pirates only print what they know there's a ready market for.

Their presses are a license to print not so much books — as money.

So while millionaire authors like Potter writer Rowling may not miss the lost income, in parts of the world where books mean knowledge — and knowledge means progress — the pirates are stealing more than money — they're stealing the future.

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