Why Is Daraz.Pk Selling Pirated Books, asks Najam Sethi

Why Is Daraz.Pk Selling Pirated Books, asks Najam Sethi
Pakistan's top online retailer, Daraz.Pk, is being called out for supplying pirated books to its customers.


The popular online retail platform has been questioned previously for selling pirated versions of products on its platform.





The issue of piracy has long plagued Pakistan's entertainment industry. But pirated books and intellectual property theft has also harmed the country's academia and research sector for decades now. Copyright infringement, as well as publishing cheap unauthorized copies, deprives the authors from their intellectual property as well as the justified remuneration they should have received from dedicating their life and time to a journalistic or scholastic pursuit. Copyright infringement causes significant economic losses to Pakistan. The actual losses are expected to be even higher now, as copyright holders now have to face immense challenges from online piracy as well. This takes place in the shape of freely available PDF versions of their work, which is made available without authorization or consent.


Piracy is historically a product of the black economy, and Pakistan is also among the countries largely affected by it. In the information age, knowledge is the most prized asset. Piracy discourages writers, as a consequence of which readers cannot hear views from different realms or positions. Indirectly, piracy undermines the reader and society as a whole. For instance we can find books of international writers in our markets, but can’t find local writers’ books who can local experiences. Therefore, in last two decades, Pakistan hasn’t seen any remarkable local writer whose work has been acclaimed or appreciated locally.

According to Khawaja Mustafa, "Due to the depleted literacy rate of our rural as well as urban population and a range of social, cultural and economic reasons; a general lack of interest towards book reading prevails". Mustafa analyzed the Pakistan National Bibliography for a five-year period from 2001 to 2005, and discovered that no more than 1,600 titles had been published annually. Moreover, regional publishers face many limitations due to which the National Library of Pakistan does not list their publications. The shortage of printing material and the low quality of books are also factors that prevent locally published books from being listed in the PNB.

With a few exceptions, books published in Pakistan are mostly read and used within the country as they are generally unable to find an international readership. Usually the books are published in quantities of around 500 to 1,000 copies. The gap felt by teachers, students and researchers in the science and technology genre is being filled by imported books — that too mostly through pirated copies.


Authors and writers are the thinkers and intelligentsia of a nation. Recent trends in our publishing industry show that Pakistani authors are fervently oriented towards religious penmanship, with an imbued focus on deep-rooted national ethos, culture and politics, along with a romantic awareness of tradition. But the social and cultural conflicts within a society provide an ideal environment for the writers’ sensitive minds. Authors' discontentedness with life and society gives way to creating literary masterpieces, with poetry being the most popular form of literary expression.

However, conducive conditions must be created to attract writers and to encourage their talents in Pakistan. In order to do this, the government must actively criminalize piracy and intellectual theft, and society must also understand that an author or artist's work must receive its due acknowledgments.

For the advancement of the book publishing industry in Pakistan, enforcement against piracy and intellectual property theft will go a long way. It will create the environment that protects and promotes ideas, and also gives due regard and benefit to the originators of those ideas. A safe and welcoming environment for ideation, discourse and dialogue will also encourage global academia and international thinkers to partake from the intellectual exchanges going on in the economy. There is a dire need to support local publications, and to encourage our younger generation and the general public to peruse them. This will also provide the publishers with an improved and enhanced market, and with incentives to clamp down on book piracy without raising the costs for readers and knowledge consumers.