It’s time to snub Microsoft and Nine

The withdrawn Cudo deal.
How should Microsoft and Nine be punished for this week’s unbelievable Cudo book piracy scandal?

Cudo, a daily deals site, offered Australians a $99 ereader package featuring 4000 free ebooks, many of which neither Cudo nor its Chinese business partner owned the rights for. It had sold 2317 e-readers, grossing $229,383, by the time the deal ended, Paidcontent.org reports.

Cudo had been proudly spruiking the fact that the Harry Potter books were in the mix, when JK Rowling has yet to make her series available as ebooks anywhere in the world (they are due for launch soon as part of her Pottermore venture with Sony, and will no doubt sell like hotcakes).

The Lord of the Rings books were also among the freebies, and Rupert Murdoch might have something to say about that given his publishing house, HarperCollins, owns the copyright to Tolkien’s works in Australia.

Has anyone told Rupert or JK about it? Presumably they heard about it on Twitter and began to fume, just as I did.

I cannot believe that a mainstream business could be so ignorant about copyright. Until the error was pointed out, Cudo was actively onselling stolen goods to the Australian public, showing an utter disregard for the livelihoods of authors, publishers and booksellers.

As the Australian Booksellers Association put it in their press release on the issue, “That this site is supported by two media organisations that regularly take significant steps to protect their own rights in relation to their intellectual property and content also raises serious questions.

“The ABA would have thought that the Nine Network and Microsoft, who are both partners of NineMSN, would be sensitive to the issue of piracy given the effect piracy has had on the television and software markets. This is apparently not the case.”

It is scenarios like this that threaten the viability of our literary culture. How many Australians saw the deal and will now feel entitled to download in-copyright books illegally? Because if an organisation like Cudo, affiliated with two major corporations, can do it, why can’t they? Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that everyone who saw the deal before it was taken down has since been made aware of its scandalous nature.

Cudo says had not shipped the ereader and CD in question before pulling the deal, and is providing a replacement ereader with a selection of out of copyright titles to those who had placed an order. This is something, but not enough to make amends.

So, back to punishment.

We could all go and download pirated versions of Microsoft software and upcoming blockbusters on Channel Nine as revenge.

Though I can’t think of a single Nine program I could be bothered to pirate even if I was the pirating type (I’m not, I want to support the creative industries so that they will always be in a position to provide us with film, television and literary brilliance).

As for software, I’d rather pay than pirate to support innovation where I can there too, but I’m over Microsoft in any case. I have spent far too much of my precious time trying to get around the fact that Explorer prefers us to use Bing for search over Google.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, and piracy is always wrong.

I’d suggest that instead, we start a campaign to switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.org, Apple iWork or Google Docs, and from Channel Nine to, well, just about any other channel (this should be easier, most of us have already done so).

Make the switch! And say no to Cudo.