Another modest proposal

Earlier this year, Macmillan president Brian Napack outlined a seven-point plan to “stop piracy”. At the time, I wrote a brief post suggesting that one of the seven points, “Build a viable consumer marketplace”, should be given greater prominence in the company’s call to action around instances of digital piracy.

I also suggested that Macmillan gather data on what helps and hurts paid content sales. Regular readers of our work know this is a common refrain with respect to our thoughts on piracy: we don’t know what we don’t know.

So it was more than a little disappointing to read Macmillan’s recent posting for a new position, “Director, Digital Piracy“. The job description is long on enforcement and wholly silent on viable consumer marketplaces or data collection to establish the impact of piracy on paid content sales.

Although it’s just one company, and it’s just one job, the omissions parallel the received wisdom that Authors Guild president Scott Turow has been presenting in his first few months in office. Like the AG, Macmillan could use its leadership position to sponsor research, improve understanding and target enforcement where the data shows that it makes sense.

Instead, it wants to hire an MBA with publishing experience whose brief will include “Review print, production and distribution process to eliminate file leakage, counterfeiting and re-importation activities” (interpretation: we’ve traced the source of piracy, and it’s coming from inside the house).

The business school I attended spent a lot of time teaching us newbies that decisions made without data are better labeled “guesswork“. Let’s hope the newer MBAs who might land this job learned the same thing.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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