The magazine scan-sharing site controversy goes mainstream

“The magazine industry is being besieged by a new foe: digital piracy,” screams the lede of an AP story yesterday.

If you read this blog, you can guess from earlier this month that the story is about Mygazines.com, a site that is reportedly on servers in Anquilla that enables users to share scans of articles from magazines. As I suggested when I first ran across the site on July 22, it was only a matter of time until the site became a take-down notice magnet.

The AP story rounds up all of the potential legal actions magazine publishers can take — and the walls they could run into. It also quotes a July 29 press release on the Mygazines.com website where “John Smith” (its creator) claims, “its copies are no different from magazines shared in doctor’s office or salon.”

As I noted in my August 5 post, magazine publishers love the “pass-along” sharing of print versions of magazines as it is part of the circulation they report to advertisers. What I didn’t mention was that a new media niche of what the auditing organization ABC calls e-publications or e-periodicals is available that provides magazine publishers with a digital-version distribution alternative that can be audited and, in some cases, DRM-protected. In other words, Mygazines.com is likely perceived more as a threat to the magazine publishers’ own plans for e-magazine distribution rather than as a threat to the printed version. Note, however, that is my interpretation — maybe some magazine publishers actually do think a digital version and paper version of a magazine are the same thing. (Disclosure: Hammock Inc. embraces all media. We produce e-magazine versions and editions and would publish smoke-signals if readers and readers and clients wanted them.)

Another thing: The AP story says they tried to contact “John Smith” but he wouldn’t respond. I’ve found that jsmith@mygazines.com will respond if you blog about him.

Related: An article in the New York Times looks at how some media companies are working with Google to generate revenues from “pirated content” appearing on YouTube.