* The Babu drew a deep breath and uttered a sharp ‘Tchah’ (try this sometime, it’s harder than it sounds) when he read this non-story in the New York Times, breathlessly headlined Harry Potter and the Internet Pirates. What Amy Harmon neglected to mention was that illegal Potter downloads are available on a relatively minuscule scale, compared to meatspace piracy.

What she appears not to have entirely understood is that the majority of the “pirate sites” are group translation sites where members would have bought the book in German, Czech or Byelorussian for that matter had it been available. In the absence of legally available translations–one of those issues that Bloomsbury wasn’t able to resolve successfully–they’re doing their own. Is this legal? Of course not. Is this immoral? Certainly not. It’s what happens when demand outpaces supply, and the available technology supports an innovative solution. Perhaps a publishing house more open to experiment might have come up with another model–license the right to create individual translations strictly for in-group circulation for a small fee, for instance. I’d bet that most of the HP junkies involved in the translation projects would cheerfully buy a good translation–if it was available, which is not the case here.

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