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snowdog
12-24-2011, 09:18 AM
I visit Harlan Ellison's site on occasion, and I came upon this story there which affects us all. Worth a read:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/20/spanish-novelist-quits-piracy-protest?newsfeed=true

Filigree
12-24-2011, 09:28 AM
I have mixed feelings about this. I know Terry Pratchett has had strong words about book piracy in the past. I support authors' rights. But every time I hear of something industry-driven, like SOPA and the DMCA, I cringe a bit. Because government and industry efforts won't solve the illegal download problem, they'll just widen the legal definition of a criminal. Usually in favor of of the very industries who've balked and whined at new technologies in the first place, instead of figuring out how to adopt and adapt to them.

A very good friend of mine helps keep a local game shop in business by buying hardcover editions of new D&D and Traveler books. He would love to legally have access to those same books in digital form on his e-reader and laptop, for easy access during games. But he has to buy two copies, f the digital versions are even available. He'd love to see hardback and trade paperback editions come with a download code for a digital version.

I sympathize with the Spanish author. But if that is her way of dealing with the problem, it's probably for the best that she gets another job besides writing.

CrastersBabies
12-24-2011, 09:34 AM
This kind of thing makes me wonder if some authors will simply refuse to go digital at all and keep the print.

Thanks for sharing the article. I always like to know what's going on in regard to ebooks/publishing/piracy, etc.

Food for thought.

Miselle
12-24-2011, 09:37 AM
"This kind of thing makes me wonder if some authors will simply refuse to go digital at all and keep the print."

Google will be happy to steal it, scan it, and put it out there. One digital copy = infinite number of digital copies.

artemis31386
12-24-2011, 09:47 AM
I don't know if its a good enough to quit writing if you love it. I do however think piracy is a crime and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law (after all, it is stealing).

Medievalist
12-24-2011, 09:51 AM
That's . . . I'll be kind and call it daft.

No sympathy here.

Susan Littlefield
12-24-2011, 10:15 AM
Quitting is not the way to fight. Standing up, speaking out, and taking proper action to stop piracy is.

PEBKAC
12-24-2011, 10:26 AM
I know it's apples to oranges, but I was very happy to hear that the comedian, Luis CK made a million dollars in five days by posting his a comedy special he put on. He asked for $5 a pop, no DRM, and just put a note basically asking people not to pirate it.

I'm sure it has been, and will be, pirated, but it's neat to see that it worked out for him.

Quitting is definitely not the way to go. Piracy needs to be fought.

Polenth
12-24-2011, 10:30 AM
The piracy thing isn't logical when you think about the details.

For a start, most downloaders would never buy the books they're downloading, so downloads don't equal lost sales. But aside from that, pirates are not picky about the books they pirate. Any successful author will have their novels pirated. So why is she going down the sales chart and other authors are rising up the sales charts? It isn't the pirates. If it were, other authors with pirated works wouldn't be taking her place.

The take away lesson is not to get obsessed with piracy. Or to think you're somehow special when you're targeted. Other authors are facing it too, so if they're still selling books... you have to look elsewhere for your sales drop.

blacbird
12-24-2011, 11:40 AM
The take away lesson is not to get obsessed with piracy. Or to think you're somehow special when you're targeted.


I'd love to find out that a book of mine had been pirated. That would mean that somebody out there actually wanted it. But, of course, since no one does actually want any of them, none have ever achieved publication, and therefore are in no hazard of being pirated. How's that for a catch-22?

caw

chickenrising
12-24-2011, 12:00 PM
The piracy thing isn't logical when you think about the details.

For a start, most downloaders would never buy the books they're downloading, so downloads don't equal lost sales. But aside from that, pirates are not picky about the books they pirate. Any successful author will have their novels pirated.

This. I doubt most pirates--if any-- are actually reading the books they download.

gothicangel
12-24-2011, 12:05 PM
Google will be happy to steal it, scan it, and put it out there. One digital copy = infinite number of digital copies.

Surely, they would buy it first. Otherwise there will be a lot of IT workers stealing from Waterstone's and B&N? ;)

Kube
12-24-2011, 12:06 PM
I'm reminded of the music piracy episode of south park where the boys form a band but refuse to play for fear of being pirated. In the end, they learned that it was really about the music and to stop worrying about people stealing their music because enough people would still pay for it anyway.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s07e09-christian-rock-hard

I don't worry about my books being pirated because if someone wants to read my book for free, they already have access to it at the library.

Also, I question whether someone that can walk away from writing completely because of money was ever a true writer anyway. Even if I never make a dime at it, I have to write. It's who I am.

kuwisdelu
12-24-2011, 12:17 PM
That's . . . I'll be kind and call it daft.

No sympathy here.

I'll be less kind and say I would never buy from an artist stupid enough to stop creating based on piracy.

jjdebenedictis
12-24-2011, 12:24 PM
Piracy seems like one of those problems where the solution is to stop thinking about it as a problem.

Or rather, to see piracy as the solution to a problem, and engineer a better solution so no one feels the need to turn to piracy.

For example, a lot of music piracy just went away once iTunes appeared and started offering music cheaply, easily, online, on a song-by-song basis.

Essentially, iTunes just started giving people what they wanted: the ability to get one song, not the whole album, and to get it instantly in electronic form.

I read an article about Valve, the company that makes Portal and other games, and they talked about how they had released a game to the Russian market, which traditionally has outrageous rates of piracy, and found they had virtually no piracy problems.

What were they doing differently? They released the game in Russia the same day they released it in Britain, rather than months later.

In other words, the fans were pirating games as a solution to a problem (games were always released in their country much, much later), and when the company made that problem go away, the piracy also went away.

There will always be criminals, but most people are basically honest. If those people turn to piracy, it's often out of frustration at companies that set up the system so it benefits the company, not the customer.

kuwisdelu
12-24-2011, 12:39 PM
There are two types of pirates: those who will pirate no matter what, and those who pirate because your delivery system is shit.

The former will never buy your art; the latter would be happy to buy it if your deliver system weren't shit, but can't because it is.

It comes down to whether you'd rather punish the entitled bastards at the expense of potential customers, or whether you'd rather turn the potential customers into real customers first and punish the entitled bastards later.

The industry is opting for the former, which is, quite frankly, a fucking stupid decision.

Alitriona
12-24-2011, 02:47 PM
I can understand her frustration. I've been pirated by someone who won one of my books in a contest and seen her collect thank yous for sharing. I don't understand how that wouldn't bother someone. I've also seen people rate books who claim to regularly download illegally and that bothers me too. I won't lie, I've felt like giving up on publishing, especially after receiving emails for being selfish because I spoke out or after being told I was ruining my career by daring to call piracy stealing. My opinion is I really don't care if it's not a lost sale, I really don't care for sob stories about not be able to afford books. If someone steals from me I really don't care for their opinion at all.

I won't stop writing because of it but I can't say it's never crossed my mind in moments of frustration.

Cathy C
12-24-2011, 04:41 PM
I have really mixed emotions about the concept of piracy. It used to be that fans would buy a book and then lend it to a circle of friends If it bothered authors, nobody seemed to mention it a decade ago. Yes, I know email & boards changed the game a lot but I like to think that readers are, by and large, honest. For a long time, for example, our books weren't even available as ebooks (and I mean just like a year or two ago). I didn't begrudge readers getting an e-version through piracy. Heck, I even made PDFs myself & sent some out to reviewers. when ours became available in e-form, I got quite a few emails from fans, telling us they'd gone out to buy a copy, because they felt GUILTY about pirating it. Readers aren't evil. They are generally honest & I do my best to treat them as such. To me, library-only readers are in a similar class. I have any number of fans who only borrow books. Does that somehow make them less of a fan? Not to me. Now, some authors will use the argument that "well, at least ONE copy was bought.". But there's no way to know if that's true. I've seen our Advance Copies (w/a "not for sale" label right on the cover) in libraries.

Is piracy wrong? Yes, and I'll turn in the sites I find to our publisher's legal team. But I won't blame the READERS. Fans are great & do mostly understand that authors depend on them buying. Piracy isn't likely to make me stop writing even though the money is important to my decision to write. :)

Alessandra Kelley
12-24-2011, 04:53 PM
Wait ... Her third book didn't do so well, but it's not available as an ebook or paperback, only as a hardcover for 20 Euros (about $26)?

But surely making things more difficult and expensive for readers, whether DRM and other draconian measures or, like this woman's publisher, artificially restricting supply, does no good in thwarting piracy?

It does seem like piracy falls into two groups: creeps who will never ever buy what they can steal, and readers frustrated at being unable to get something they like easily and relatively inexpensively.

bearilou
12-24-2011, 05:05 PM
Her vow to stop writing provoked a torrent of abuse from downloaders who filled her Facebook wall with insults. Some said they did not earn enough to buy her books.

"Literature is not a profit-making job, but a passion," said Kelly Sánchez, one of the least vitriolic critics. "If you had a real vocation then you wouldn't stop writing."


especially after receiving emails for being selfish because I spoke out or after being told I was ruining my career by daring to call piracy stealing.

Leaving aside the piracy issue for a moment, I think this is what disheartens me the most.

If you're going to pirate, whatever, but don't act like it's anything less than what it is. It is stealing.


Piracy seems like one of those problems where the solution is to stop thinking about it as a problem.

Or rather, to see piracy as the solution to a problem, and engineer a better solution so no one feels the need to turn to piracy.

For example, a lot of music piracy just went away once iTunes appeared and started offering music cheaply, easily, online, on a song-by-song basis.

Essentially, iTunes just started giving people what they wanted: the ability to get one song, not the whole album, and to get it instantly in electronic form.

I read an article about Valve, the company that makes Portal and other games, and they talked about how they had released a game to the Russian market, which traditionally has outrageous rates of piracy, and found they had virtually no piracy problems.

What were they doing differently? They released the game in Russia the same day they released it in Britain, rather than months later.

In other words, the fans were pirating games as a solution to a problem (games were always released in their country much, much later), and when the company made that problem go away, the piracy also went away.

There will always be criminals, but most people are basically honest. If those people turn to piracy, it's often out of frustration at companies that set up the system so it benefits the company, not the customer.

And I think this comment hit the heart of the matter. I know for myself any piracy I've engaged in the past *furtive looks* was because the product bought was simply out of my range of ability to acquire (too expensive, not available without rootkits/massively invasive DRM, anime being sold at $30 a dvd with only 2 episodes and no extras, and whatever nonsense Sony tried to pull there for a while on their cds).

Once it became available to me in a form I could afford/wanted/suited my needs and available tech, I was more than willing to give up my hard-earned cash to get it.

One of my favorite authors has a new book coming out. Amazon just sent me an email and when I read it, the ebook was being priced at $9.99 but the trade was going to sell for $10.88 'discounted' from $16.00. For a paperback.

I won't pirate it because I believe the author is worth paying for...but at a price that is more affordable. So I'll wait for a sale. Along side that, another author I love (and advertised as Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought) has a new book coming out (:hooray:) for $7.99 for Kindle and paperback. :/ Guess who gets my money this time? Possibly twice, once for the ebook and once for the paperback.

I don't understand the part of publishing that sets prices and how their elaborate algorithms work, but the first publisher is really pushing the limits of what many consumers are willing to pay, which for many, may start the downward slide to pirate it.

However, I don't think the answer to the problem is to quit writing. That ranks up there with fanfic authors who hold their fanfics hostage by saying "I need 10 reviews or I quit writing this story".

Although, I'm not sure what the answer is except making it available to readers at affordable prices, which is not within the author's realm of control (unless self-pubbed).

Captcha
12-24-2011, 05:37 PM
No sympathy from me. Piracy is annoying, but it's not a tragedy.

I wonder what the job offer she got was? I wonder if it'll pay as well as writing did (sounds like she was doing pretty well with the prize money, at least!).

Sarashay
12-24-2011, 07:10 PM
That has got to be one of the the dumbest things I've read in a while. More and more people are getting their book fix with ebooks and her publisher thinks it's a GREAT idea to REFUSE TO RELEASE her latest novel in an ebook edition because *gasp* some people might steal it.

End result--anybody who wants her novel in electronic form is FORCED to swipe a PDF version because THEY CAN'T PAY MONEY FOR IT EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO.

I . . . just . . . wow. That's a spectacular kind of clueless.

Captcha
12-24-2011, 07:15 PM
That has got to be one of the the dumbest things I've read in a while. More and more people are getting their book fix with ebooks and her publisher thinks it's a GREAT idea to REFUSE TO RELEASE her latest novel in an ebook edition because *gasp* some people might steal it.

End result--anybody who wants her novel in electronic form is FORCED to swipe a PDF version because THEY CAN'T PAY MONEY FOR IT EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO.

I . . . just . . . wow. That's a spectacular kind of clueless.

I agree that it's a short-sighted/stupid policy on the publisher's part, but I've got to disagree with the idea that people are FORCED to commit piracy. Something not being available in my preferred format does not give me the right to steal that item, and it certainly doesn't FORCE me to steal the item.

If we, as writers and as human beings, believe that it's wrong to take someone's work without their permission, then we should stand by those beliefs even if it means we can't read that person's work, or can't read it in our preferred format.

Toothpaste
12-24-2011, 07:17 PM
I agree with what people are saying, that making it less available isn't the way to go, and that most people who pirate aren't even reading the book in the first place.

But man, I'm stunned with some of the attitudes where evidently the excuse of "I want it now, and can't afford it otherwise" is a perfect excuse to steal someone's work. Like if you really wanted a shirt in a store and couldn't afford it, you'd steal it and then maybe buy another one from the same store later?

We live in a culture of entitlement, where people want things and they want them now. This means people go into crazy debt buying things they can't afford instead of waiting and saving up the money, or, I guess this also means people justify stealing.

Piracy is theft. And yes this author's reaction seems silly to me and not a solution to the problem, but that still doesn't mean piracy isn't theft.

(there's also a BIG difference between an author choosing to put her work out there for free, and someone else making that choice for her)

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 07:34 PM
Quitting because of piracy? So, the bad guys have won? You've given up your dream, but in this case, was it really your dream? Was it worth giving up to something that can be overcome?

[Decided to restore this bit, because it's a viewpoint and it's a different take; if you don't like it, don't jump down my throat about it -- I can entertain this viewpoint without saying it's one I accept or don't accept. It's a viewpoint.]

Instead of legislating to death against piracy and further reducing access to items for legitimate customers, why not find a way to integrate piracy somehow? If you think about it, piracy is a form of distribution, a promotional channel. What if you exploited it as part of the promotion campaign? The network is already set up, the people are already there.

And, for those that only turned to it because they have no other choice, and would have bought a legitimate copy if they could have, offering an incentive (e.g., a second free book, or, no prosecution) might help them to help you promote your work. (Btw, these are the people you want on your side. Not the actual pirates themselves, 'cos they do it because they can.)

The problem with piracy is the lack of access to the book, regardless of when it's released. Those not in the right country or region can't access it. And even after waiting a reasonable amount of time (about 2 years or more in some cases), and still being unable to purchase the book, they have one of two choices: forget the book, or go for a pirated one.

If the former can be chosen, most will. On the other hand, if you've waited for 2 years, and the publisher still hasn't released it, and you still can't purchase it legitimately, of course you're going to hit a pirated copy.

Understand that piracy is a solution to otherwise-unobtainable goods, or withheld goods because the publisher or whatever company, is trying to milk the customer for all they have. Or, the producing company is so terrified of pirates, they've cut out everyone (including that huge base of legitimate customers that would help them recuperate their costs) in certain regions.

So, a solution to piracy? Include otherwise honest people in your promotion campaign. How? That's up to you.

ChaosTitan
12-24-2011, 07:38 PM
I agree that it's a short-sighted/stupid policy on the publisher's part, but I've got to disagree with the idea that people are FORCED to commit piracy. Something not being available in my preferred format does not give me the right to steal that item, and it certainly doesn't FORCE me to steal the item.

If we, as writers and as human beings, believe that it's wrong to take someone's work without their permission, then we should stand by those beliefs even if it means we can't read that person's work, or can't read it in our preferred format.

QFT.


I agree with what people are saying, that making it less available isn't the way to go, and that most people who pirate aren't even reading the book in the first place.

But man, I'm stunned with some of the attitudes where evidently the excuse of "I want it now, and can't afford it otherwise" is a perfect excuse to steal someone's work. Like if you really wanted a shirt in a store and couldn't afford it, you'd steal it and then maybe buy another one from the same store later?

We live in a culture of entitlement, where people want things and they want them now. This means people go into crazy debt buying things they can't afford instead of waiting and saving up the money, or, I guess this also means people justify stealing.

Piracy is theft. And yes this author's reaction seems silly to me and not a solution to the problem, but that still doesn't mean piracy isn't theft.

(there's also a BIG difference between an author choosing to put her work out there for free, and someone else making that choice for her)

Again, QFT.

Toothpaste
12-24-2011, 07:42 PM
Snitchcat - Wow, so if you were in a store and you couldn't afford a shirt you wouldn't just not buy it, you'd stuff it into your coat instead because the corporations need to learn to price things so you can afford them?

Okay then.


See, I don't think there's anything wrong with authors choosing to give stuff away for free to promote their work. There is something wrong though when someone else makes that choice for them.

And also I am sick of the argument that the big corporations deserve it, the people in the end who suffer aren't the big shots, but the little guys. In the store where you stole the shirt, the employees get docked pay, and the book you steal? Well that author doesn't get the money she deserves, but what I think is even worse is she doesn't get the sale. I have a one book deal right now, I am hoping my publisher expands it. But likely they will only turn it into a multi-book deal if the first book does well. If people are stealing my book instead of buying it, this means that all those people who could have contributed to my sales numbers aren't and then, well, my publisher sees that no one buys my books and doesn't offer me any new contract.

So instead of supporting an author you love, you've just made it so that she won't be writing any more of those books for you. Nice.

IceCreamEmpress
12-24-2011, 07:48 PM
Why should authors incorporate other people stealing from them into their promotion model? Stores don't do that. Stores could eliminate their entire loss prevention departments if they just decided that the stuff people stole was a great promotional device.

That said, whatever for this lady. The world doesn't owe anyone the equivalent of a full-time salary for writing, and if she can't make ends meet with her writing, finding another job is a good choice. Making it into a ZOMG TRAGEDY is pretty narcissistic of her.

Folks, if you want to read a book and you can't afford to buy it, take it out of a public library, don't steal it. Writers love library sales.

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 07:52 PM
Snitchcat - Wow, so if you were in a store and you couldn't afford a shirt you wouldn't just not buy it, you'd stuff it into your coat instead because the corporations need to learn to price things so you can afford them?

Okay then.

Please don't take my comment out of context. This is specifically about books. If I were in a store and couldn't afford the t-shirt, I would walk off without the t-shirt. And this assumes I have access to the t-shirt in the first place.

I also do not appreciate the tone of attack. Thank you.

Back to topic: I have encountered far too many advertisements for books that, when I come to "Click to Buy", the response is, "You must be a resident of the USA or Canada" or, it's "Does not ship to xxxx country". Or, and this is a good one: your credit card is invalid. Problem: the credit card is good for every country but the States. And PayPal is not an option for me.

But the answer would be to "walk off without the book"? Oh, easily done. However, I may as well stop reading anything by my favourite authors, whose books are not accessible to me! Thank you for cutting out 90% of my favourite past time: reading.


Why should authors incorporate other people stealing from them into their promotion model? Stores don't do that. Stores could eliminate their entire loss prevention departments if they just decided that the stuff people stole was a great promotional device.

It's a different take. It's a different way of looking at something that can be exploited to create even more sales for the author. It's a suggestion. I believe I also mentioned "idealistic".

As I said, I have a different viewpoint; I'd rather not be attacked for having one. However, all that said, it doesn't mean I don't understand, or can't see what piracy is, or understand why the Spanish author decided to stop writing. I just don't believe it's the right decision. /shrug.

IceCreamEmpress
12-24-2011, 07:58 PM
Snitchcat, you're changing the terms of the argument. "Can't afford to buy" is a different thing from "item isn't offered for sale in my country."

And I buy books from the UK that aren't issued in the US all the time; I just can't buy them from Amazon.co.uk. Your local bookstore can order US books for you.

Saying "If I can't order a book in the easiest possible way, I will buy a bootlegged copy" isn't really the strongest argument for your case. (It also represents a tiny fraction of unauthorized book downloads, in any case.)

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 08:04 PM
Can't afford = not available for sale, in my particular case. And my local bookstore cannot obtain US books for me -- regardless of cost or availability.

So, I have to order a book using the most impossible / improbable or most difficult method possible? Even after waiting for a reasonable amount of time to see if the book does become available in my country?

And me representing a tiny fraction of unauthorised book downloads? That's a baseless assumption. I am allowed to play devil's advocate without announcing it.

You know what, this argument is going nowhere. Let's return to topic.

Captcha
12-24-2011, 08:05 PM
Perhaps I'm being idealistic here. But, instead of fighting so hard against it with laws and prosecution, how about trying to integrate it, use it, exploit it? Yes, I realise true criminals exist, but them aside, how about those who are looking for access to your work without the hurdles?


Who are these 'true criminals'? Don't they have the same mindset, that if they want something badly enough, it's okay to just take it? If there are too many hurdles, then theft is justified? We're not talking about medicine for a dying baby, here, we're talking about books.

I sympathize with the frustration of not being able to have access to something you want because of geography, but I can't go along with the arguments you're using to justify pirating that item. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we can't get what we want. It sucks, but it doesn't justify theft.

Toothpaste
12-24-2011, 08:06 PM
Please don't take my comment out of context. This is specifically about books. If I were in a store and couldn't afford the t-shirt, I would walk off without the t-shirt. And this assumes I have access to the t-shirt in the first place.

I also do not appreciate the tone of attack. Thank you.
.

I was not attacking you. I was stunned you would steal anything and offered you a comparison to try to show you how it's wrong.

And just because your excuse is "I'm not talking about t-shirts, I'm talking about books" and that you aren't talking physical books but ebooks, and that you are using the excuse of it's just because I can't get these books where I live, doesn't matter. It's still an excuse for stealing.

I get why you got upset by what I said in comparing what you are doing to shoplifting, and I get why you'd want to come up with reasons that what you're doing isn't the same thing. Shoplifting is so obviously wrong that you don't want to be accused of doing the same thing in what you're doing stealing someone's book. But you are. Just because you don't have to physically go into a store to do it and no one will chase after you, just because you can get away with it, well, that still doesn't make it right.

Interestingly when I was a teen I had friends who used the exact same excuses as you do for their shoplifting, and in fact used the "the corporations deserve it anyway" thing as well and I said the exact same thing to them as I did to you.

I'm sorry, you can try to convince us and yourself that what you are doing is somehow different, but it isn't. Now, you can acknowledge, "Yup, I'm doing something wrong, but them's the breaks" and fine, I can't say anything but be disappointed in you. But you can't defend the behaviour. It's wrong.

There are other ways to get the books you want to read without stealing them. Like IceCream said, go to your local bookstore and have them order them for you. And you know what? Like I said above, if you can't find or afford the book? Then you can't have the book. You don't have RIGHT to a book or a t-shirt or anything, just because you want it.

The excuse of "it's more convenient and easier for me to steal" is not one.

Sometimes we don't always get what we want. Trust me, I haven't gone clothing shopping in two years because I can't afford clothes and I finally saved enough to be able to go shopping this month. Should I have not bothered to save my money and just shoplifted instead?

Anyway, I know you're likely going to see this as yet more of an attack, and I would be defensive too in your situation, but I hope others reading this will see my point.

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 08:11 PM
Okay, this is my opinion, it's my viewpoint, it's a suggestion. Also, it is a reason, not an excuse. But take it as you will.

Get off my back, stop trying to convince me that I must agree with you; I am who I am and I have my reasons. You have no evidence I have actually stolen anything. You only have me playing devil's advocate without notifying anyone.

My apologies for venturing an opinion which offers a different take.

Let's return to topic, please: the article that was linked (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/20/spanish-novelist-quits-piracy-protest?newsfeed=true).

Toothpaste
12-24-2011, 08:14 PM
Nothing wrong with venturing a different opinion, and I'm sorry that I thought you were speaking from personal experience. You wrote your posts in first person and very much as if these were your reasons (which are still in my mind excuses, but there you go, semantics and all that), not "could be someone's reasons for it".

Nonetheless, if you are just playing devil's advocate, my points remain the same. Change "you" to "one", and there ya go. You are allowed to venture a different opinion, but I am allowed to counter that different opinion.

IceCreamEmpress
12-24-2011, 08:17 PM
And me representing a tiny fraction of unauthorised book downloads? That's a baseless assumption.

No, it's based on the Wiggin Digital Entertainment Survey (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8518755/E-books-drive-older-women-to-digital-piracy.html), and the reasons given by the people surveyed for their unauthorized downloading.

I'm sorry your local bookstore can't order US books for you. That must be frustrating. May I suggest alibris.com, which I know ships to the UK, and accepts credit cards from all nations?

Cyia
12-24-2011, 08:19 PM
Ugh. I saw this a few days ago. It's right up there with the "If only 1 out of 4 paid me for those downloads, I'd be a bestseller!!!" rant from other authors.

Piracy sucks, yes, but most of those were never sales in the first place; you can't treat them like they were. Stopping writing isn't going to make the downloads go away.

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 08:21 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, Empress. Unfortunately, I'm not in the UK -- would be great for books if I were. :) (For the record, I don't download pirated books; all the free reading I get is through works that are no longer under copyright, or they're paid-for local language books. Any English books I purchase are from the local store -- they carry only the really big names, though.)

Hmm... interesting link to the survey -- I hadn't seen it. I withdraw my statement of "baseless assumption".

Yes, Toothpaste, you're allowed to counter any opinion; I just didn't like feeling there was an attack. But anyway, opinions will clash and I'm sorry I wasn't clearer about playing devil's advocate from the beginning. :)

Downloads will never vanish, but their method will change over time. Do agree, that quitting isn't the answer. Then again, there seems to be much more to the situation than what's been presented in that news article. It would be interesting to see why the latest book's sales weren't as good as the previous publications' and see how much piracy truly affected that book's sales.

IceCreamEmpress
12-24-2011, 08:22 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, Empress. Unfortunately, I'm not in the UK -- would be great for books if I were. :)

Oh, sorry. I was misremembering or conflating you with another poster; my apologies. Alibris ships pretty much everywhere in the world, though.

Katrina S. Forest
12-24-2011, 08:29 PM
I'll be honest, I don't pirate books over it, but if something isn't out in digital form, that equates to a delayed purchase for me. When I add a book to my "want to read" list, the first places I look are bn.com for the Nook ebook or Audible for the audiobook. If it's not in either of those places, it goes to the back-burner of my wishlist -- something I'll ask for birthday or Christmas instead of gift cards, but not something I'm going to read now. Which, if you're an author looking for good sales at the time of release, isn't a good thing.

Was it wise for the publisher to only put out a hardback for fear of pirating? No. Does that make pirating okay? Heck no. Should someone give up the art they love because of pirating? I don't think that's worth even giving an answer.

Snitchcat
12-24-2011, 08:32 PM
Oh, sorry. I was misremembering or conflating you with another poster; my apologies. Alibris ships pretty much everywhere in the world, though.

No worries. But if Alibris ships anywhere.... hehe... new favourite bookmark! Thank you! (^_^)

CrastersBabies
12-24-2011, 08:42 PM
"This kind of thing makes me wonder if some authors will simply refuse to go digital at all and keep the print."

Google will be happy to steal it, scan it, and put it out there. One digital copy = infinite number of digital copies.

Last time I looked, though, Google didn't have a full copy. You could only look at a certain number of pages before you were cut off. Unless they offer to sell a digital version. Can they do that w/o permission from the author/publishing company?

Alessandra Kelley
12-24-2011, 08:50 PM
I don't agree that piracy is advertising for a book. Piracy is theft. It's of no benefit to authors and creators.

But I also think a lot of the DRM-type measures taken to prevent piracy do not deter pirates, but make things more difficult for legitimate purchasers.

And it's not as simple as "if you can't afford it you can't buy it." Economics works in both directions. If a seller's goods are priced so that people can't or won't buy them, sales will fall and the seller must reduce the prices in order to sell goods.

It seems to me that the industry's response to piracy, which hurts sales and drives ordinary consumers into the pirates' arms, stems from a refusal to reduce prices to the market level.

If they stopped charging so much for books and music, especially electronic files, and made it easier for consumers to read those files on their own devices, I bet there'd be a lot less piracy.

Please note I am not defending piracy. I think of piracy as rather like the speakeasies, back in the 1920s. Like the speakeasies, piracy is an underground, illegal response to a poorly thought-out policy of deliberate scarcity. Much of the piracy is run by cartels of criminals. It fosters a casual attitude towards criminal activity among otherwise law-abiding citizens, who are disproportionately affected by the official response. It is dangerous, distasteful, and wrong.

I don't like it, but I can understand it.

Alessandra Kelley
12-24-2011, 09:18 PM
No, it's based on the Wiggin Digital Entertainment Survey (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8518755/E-books-drive-older-women-to-digital-piracy.html), and the reasons given by the people surveyed for their unauthorized downloading.

I'm sorry your local bookstore can't order US books for you. That must be frustrating. May I suggest alibris.com, which I know ships to the UK, and accepts credit cards from all nations?

Thanks for the link, IceCreamEmpress. Here's a link to a précis of the report. (http://digitalentertainmentsurvey.com/)

I find it interesting that so many older women are pirating ebooks, as the article linked to said. Also, that the report says a lot of people who pirate content would be willing to pay small fees for legitimate access.

Speakeasies, I'm tellin' ya.

Captcha
12-24-2011, 09:30 PM
Speakeasies, I'm tellin' ya.

I don't buy the speakeasy analogy. One, during prohibition, there was NO legitimate source of alcohol; in this case, there are, for the vast majority of people, lots of legitimate sources. Two, the alcohol during prohibition probably wasn't stolen from its makers. In the case of pirated books, there are real authors, most of whom are not making a lot of money from their craft, being stolen from.

I'm absolutely open to practical arguments for how to reduce piracy, and I can see that lower prices may be one way to go. But that's just a harm-reduction strategy; it doesn't it any way negate the moral issue involved in people choosing to steal someone else's work.

Alessandra Kelley
12-24-2011, 09:39 PM
I don't buy the speakeasy analogy. One, during prohibition, there was NO legitimate source of alcohol; in this case, there are, for the vast majority of people, lots of legitimate sources. Two, the alcohol during prohibition probably wasn't stolen from its makers. In the case of pirated books, there are real authors, most of whom are not making a lot of money from their craft, being stolen from.

Good points. I went way too far in my analogy. Got caught up in my own cleverness, I'm afraid.


I'm absolutely open to practical arguments for how to reduce piracy, and I can see that lower prices may be one way to go. But that's just a harm-reduction strategy; it doesn't it any way negate the moral issue involved in people choosing to steal someone else's work.

I agree it doesn't negate the moral issue. I guess I feel that you can't legislate morals. Although I doubt piracy can be entirely stamped out, legitimate purchase can be made a more appealing option. Piracy is scuzzy, and most people know that. The better, safer, and more convenient legitimate purchasing becomes, the fewer people will turn to pirates.

veinglory
12-24-2011, 09:46 PM
I think, in the case of this author, there is more going on. She has an.... interesting history.

Captcha
12-24-2011, 09:47 PM
Good points. I went way too far in my analogy. Got caught up in my own cleverness, I'm afraid.

Always a risk for writers (as I know far too well from my own flights of fancy!)

kuwisdelu
12-24-2011, 09:57 PM
I'm not published yet, which probably makes my opinion on the matter totally wordless, but I think I'd rather people pirate my novel and actually read it than not buy it and not read it.

The Lonely One
12-24-2011, 10:13 PM
It's actually made me want to go and buy something by her. I'm curious.

I think it's a personal decision. I don't get why people attack her, nor why "I don't make enough money to buy your books" is a good excuse. That's the most bullshit thing I've ever heard to excuse theft. Go to the library.

And as for the "writing is a passion, get a real vocation" comment? What could be a bigger insult to a novelist? A vocation can't be a passion?

Give me a break. It sounds like she somehow acquired some real d*bags for fans.

kuwisdelu
12-24-2011, 10:19 PM
I think it's a personal decision. I don't get why people attack her,

Because from some of our perspectives, it implicates her as a part of the system that is the problem, a system that is pushing the industry further and further from a real solution. It's a step backward.

Medievalist
12-24-2011, 10:45 PM
Because from some of our perspectives, it implicates her as a part of the system that is the problem, a system that is pushing the industry further and further from a real solution. It's a step backward.

"I'm going to pack up my toys and I'm going home."

Medievalist
12-24-2011, 10:49 PM
I write for money. It's a job. I want to do it well, and I take it seriously, but it's just a job.

My books, both ghostwritten and not, have been pirated even before official release—books about technology were routinely pirated long before most people even knew what the Internet was.

I don't care. It's not like they actually read them, for the most part. Nor are the people who pirate for whatever excuse likely to buy my books.

I have noticed that the non-drm books are pirated far less often than the DRM books.

I'm much more interested in those people who do buy my books; I want them to find the books useful, and therefor buy more of my books. I'm not going to worry about the others; they aren't my readers.

jjdebenedictis
12-24-2011, 10:51 PM
Please note I am not defending piracy. I think of piracy as rather like the speakeasies, back in the 1920s. Like the speakeasies, piracy is an underground, illegal response to a poorly thought-out policy of deliberate scarcity.I thought that was a really smart observation, Alessandra Kelley.

As for the argument of there being no access to the art, in some countries there really is no access.

For example, say there's a game out in Britain. You live in Russia. You really, really want the game, you're even happy to buy the English version, but you cannot. It won't be available in your country for half a year. Arbitrarily. Because it suits the company to set things up that way.

All your online friends are talking about how great the game is, but you can't even have a friend buy it in Britain and ship it to you because the game will have DRM that prevents you running it on your equipment. Again, arbitrarily, because it suits the company to set it up that way.

Setting aside entitlement issues, this is flat-out unfair. Due to the accident of your birth, you're a paying the same amount of money--you're even willing to pay more money--but you're getting second class service.

Please note that a sense of justice is one of the things social animals are hard-wired to feel; justice is necessary for society to exist.

So when a company sets things up to suit themselves, not the customer (and they have the right to do this; I'm just arguing that it's counter-productive), they trigger a deep, innate rage that most human beings feel when faced with injustice.

And that rage drives people to try to "fix" the problem.

I think it's dismissive and incorrect to just call piracy purely a product of entitlement. For some fans, yes, it's entitlement. For others, they really are being treated worse than others and their actions, although illegal and harmful, really do "feel", to them, like they're clawing back a just solution.

PEBKAC
12-24-2011, 11:00 PM
To me it seems insincere. Does anybody believe she's quitting because some people are pirating her book?

blacbird
12-24-2011, 11:14 PM
I have encountered far too many advertisements for books that, when I come to "Click to Buy", the response is, "You must be a resident of the USA or Canada" or, it's "Does not ship to xxxx country".

Copyright and publication rights are probably to blame for some of this. And if you're talking about physical books, shipping abroad is an expensive and often complicated operation.

caw

IceCreamEmpress
12-24-2011, 11:54 PM
As for the argument of there being no access to the art, in some countries there really is no access.

For example, say there's a game out in Britain. You live in Russia. You really, really want the game, you're even happy to buy the English version, but you cannot. It won't be available in your country for half a year. Arbitrarily. Because it suits the company to set things up that way.

All your online friends are talking about how great the game is, but you can't even have a friend buy it in Britain and ship it to you because the game will have DRM that prevents you running it on your equipment.

Again, this isn't an argument that people cite at all frequently for unauthorized downloading of books.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 12:04 AM
I thought that was a really smart observation, Alessandra Kelley.

As for the argument of there being no access to the art, in some countries there really is no access.

For example, say there's a game out in Britain. You live in Russia. You really, really want the game, you're even happy to buy the English version, but you cannot. It won't be available in your country for half a year. Arbitrarily. Because it suits the company to set things up that way.

All your online friends are talking about how great the game is, but you can't even have a friend buy it in Britain and ship it to you because the game will have DRM that prevents you running it on your equipment. Again, arbitrarily, because it suits the company to set it up that way.

Setting aside entitlement issues, this is flat-out unfair. Due to the accident of your birth, you're a paying the same amount of money--you're even willing to pay more money--but you're getting second class service.

Please note that a sense of justice is one of the things social animals are hard-wired to feel; justice is necessary for society to exist.

So when a company sets things up to suit themselves, not the customer (and they have the right to do this; I'm just arguing that it's counter-productive), they trigger a deep, innate rage that most human beings feel when faced with injustice.

And that rage drives people to try to "fix" the problem.

I think it's dismissive and incorrect to just call piracy purely a product of entitlement. For some fans, yes, it's entitlement. For others, they really are being treated worse than others and their actions, although illegal and harmful, really do "feel", to them, like they're clawing back a just solution.

I think when you say something is "unfair" and that people are "faced with injustice", AND you're talking about access to a video game, it's a bit silly to say that you're setting entitlement aside.

I mean, of COURSE the company is making decisions based on how it suits them. That's their right, because they own the game. You would prefer that the company make decisions based on how it suits you. Fair enough, that's your preference, but you don't own the game, so your preference doesn't give you much standing.

There are serious NEEDS in this world that people are unable to have met because of the accident of where they were born. If these people feel driven to steal in order to meet their NEEDS, I understand it. I also understand how THEY might feel a "a deep, innate rage" at the world's injustices. I sympathize, I join them in railing against the injustice, and I try to help.

But having to wait an extra six months for a video game? Come on. Anyone who feels a deep rage about that is ABSOLUTELY suffering from an expanded sense of entitlement, and those who steal in response to the situation are just thieves, not crusaders for justice.

Windcutter
12-25-2011, 12:17 AM
I read an article about Valve, the company that makes Portal and other games, and they talked about how they had released a game to the Russian market, which traditionally has outrageous rates of piracy, and found they had virtually no piracy problems.

What were they doing differently? They released the game in Russia the same day they released it in Britain, rather than months later.

In other words, the fans were pirating games as a solution to a problem (games were always released in their country much, much later), and when the company made that problem go away, the piracy also went away.

No, it didn't. They just saw some improvement because *some* pirates stopped, the ones who only wanted an early release, and the general amount of illegal downloads in Russia is so high, even this small %% dropping off was noticeable. But the majority of pirates, at least in Russia, do not do it for that reason. They simply want stuff for free and they have the means to get it, so why not. It's the national mindset: lulz we tricked the rich dudes out of their money. It's especially true re: games, because there is no "poor artist" concept behind them in the eyes of the general public.

Quitting because of piracy? So, the bad guys have won? You've given up your dream, but in this case, was it really your dream? Was it worth giving up to something that can be overcome?

She might still be writing, just not showing it to anyone except friends.

I know a Russian author who did the same thing. She has a blog and when she posted about her frustration (she kept receiving emails in which people were asking her where they could download her newest book and got offended when she sent them the link to a local version of Amazon), some comments were like this: hm, you want me to pay for *books*? That's weird, I pay for clothes, food, vacations, important stuff, not for something that's just entertainment. Those people--the ones who commented--were not poor. They just had this idea that only a careless spender would spend money on something that's not new shoes or a new house. A writer, in their world, is someone who has lots of fun writing books (while they slave away at their boring day jobs) and then has the nerve to want some money from those hard-working dudes who are just looking for a bit of fun, ridiculous, isn't it?
And those were people who called themselves her fans and devoted readers.

Another example, also a Russian one. Sergey Lukyanenko is a number one bestselling Sci-Fi writer not only in Russia but, it seems, in Eastern Europe. He is a passionate hater of book piracy and used to blog about it quite a lot. His blog's audience is huge. Once his post received a large number of replies from readers who downloaded his books illegally. They said they thought all the publishers were corrupted and they'd be happy to thank the author directly if they could, but they refused to give any money to publishers. (This is a popular point of view in that country.) Others said they downloaded books illegally when those books were hard to find. Or that they only wanted to read ebooks and never bought the paper stuff. Etc, etc. Lots of reasons.

Okay, Lukyanenko said and created a social experiment. He set up an account using a local cyber-money system and asked everyone who downloaded his books illegally and wanted to pay for them or just to thank him for writing books to send him a bit of money. He promised to donate the whole sum to charity, it wasn't about him wanting money, he wanted to prove that his opponents only cared for free stuff.

He got... I don't remember the exact amount but it was about 150 or 200 dollars total. Mind you, he is the most famous Sci-Fi author in that part of the world. Like Stephenie Meyer for American Young Adult.

Though piracy isn't just about the customers wanting stuff. It's not about freedom of information, either. It's about profit. http://lib.rus.ec is the biggest Russian site for pirates. Its servers are situated somewhere in Southern America. It's full of banner ads and has an incredible amount of hits per hour. Can you imagine just how much $$$ flows towards its owners? They are filthy rich. And that's not the end of it. If you click on "buy it" instead of "read it", wanting a fb2 or another special ebook format (the free copies are in basic html format), you will be sent to another site. That site sells digital copies of books which were never released in that form. More than that: some writers who chose to publish their books as free ebooks, find those *free* ebooks on sale there.

* * *
"Literature is not a profit-making job, but a passion," said Kelly Sánchez, one of the least vitriolic critics. "If you had a real vocation then you wouldn't stop writing." [from the article]

Every time I see this, I want those people to arrive at their work place next Monday just to discover that they will no longer be paid because the public feels like they must do it for free. Hey, doctor, if you had a real vocation, then you wouldn't demand any pay from your patients. Hey, teachers, artists, physicists, what are you doing wanting some money to feed yourself with? That's your vocation, dammit. You chose chemistry? Work in the lab for free and sweep streets at night to pay your bills.

Vocation? Ha. It's just a convoluted way of saying: yes, writer, gimme what I want for free and stop whining, you should be happy we read your drivel.

artemis31386
12-25-2011, 12:37 AM
I was not attacking you. I was stunned you would steal anything and offered you a comparison to try to show you how it's wrong.

And just because your excuse is "I'm not talking about t-shirts, I'm talking about books" and that you aren't talking physical books but ebooks, and that you are using the excuse of it's just because I can't get these books where I live, doesn't matter. It's still an excuse for stealing.

I get why you got upset by what I said in comparing what you are doing to shoplifting, and I get why you'd want to come up with reasons that what you're doing isn't the same thing. Shoplifting is so obviously wrong that you don't want to be accused of doing the same thing in what you're doing stealing someone's book. But you are. Just because you don't have to physically go into a store to do it and no one will chase after you, just because you can get away with it, well, that still doesn't make it right.

Interestingly when I was a teen I had friends who used the exact same excuses as you do for their shoplifting, and in fact used the "the corporations deserve it anyway" thing as well and I said the exact same thing to them as I did to you.

I'm sorry, you can try to convince us and yourself that what you are doing is somehow different, but it isn't. Now, you can acknowledge, "Yup, I'm doing something wrong, but them's the breaks" and fine, I can't say anything but be disappointed in you. But you can't defend the behaviour. It's wrong.

There are other ways to get the books you want to read without stealing them. Like IceCream said, go to your local bookstore and have them order them for you. And you know what? Like I said above, if you can't find or afford the book? Then you can't have the book. You don't have RIGHT to a book or a t-shirt or anything, just because you want it.

The excuse of "it's more convenient and easier for me to steal" is not one.

Sometimes we don't always get what we want. Trust me, I haven't gone clothing shopping in two years because I can't afford clothes and I finally saved enough to be able to go shopping this month. Should I have not bothered to save my money and just shoplifted instead?

Anyway, I know you're likely going to see this as yet more of an attack, and I would be defensive too in your situation, but I hope others reading this will see my point.


:Clap:

Ses
12-25-2011, 01:06 AM
I'm confused by all of the piracy talk. Really, I am.

Here's my question in regard to books specifically: what's the difference between a pirated copy and going to the library to read the book?

What's the difference between having bought a book, and then sharing the physical copy among friends?

In both situations you have a number of people reading the book for free. What happens when libraries go entirely digital? You'll have digital copies of books floating all over the Internet for absolutely free all over the place. I recently took out a digital library loan of a book. It remained on my computer for exactly four weeks, and then I either had to "renew" the loan or "return" the book.

Piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--changed the way the music industry works, i.e., iTunes as mentioned somewhere downthread. Eventually, piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--will change the way the publishing industry works.

And all of the above having been said, I'm still not positive if any of what I have said makes any sense at all.

bearilou
12-25-2011, 01:07 AM
I'm sorry, you can try to convince us and yourself that what you are doing is somehow different, but it isn't. Now, you can acknowledge, "Yup, I'm doing something wrong, but them's the breaks" and fine, I can't say anything but be disappointed in you. But you can't defend the behaviour. It's wrong.


Exactly. I've done it (not shoplifting) with anime and music. And I always felt like a sleaze, truthfully and so didn't do it often. However, once companies came to the realization they could make money if they shifted how they sold their product, iTunes selling individual songs, anime selling boxsets, manga translatiors doing a better job with their translations, I was more than willing to put out the cash to buy them instead of having to resort to piracy to get what I wanted.

But what I had been doing was still theft and never tried to justify it as anything else.

The author that I'd love to have her book. I am disappointed that I won't be able to read it and maybe I'll change my tune after it's been out for a while but right now $9.99 is far too much for my budget to pay for an ebook. I'm sorry.

So I vote with my money and simply won't buy it at that price.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 01:23 AM
I'm confused by all of the piracy talk. Really, I am.

Here's my question in regard to books specifically: what's the difference between a pirated copy and going to the library to read the book?

What's the difference between having bought a book, and then sharing the physical copy among friends?

In both situations you have a number of people reading the book for free. What happens when libraries go entirely digital? You'll have digital copies of books floating all over the Internet for absolutely free all over the place. I recently took out a digital library loan of a book. It remained on my computer for exactly four weeks, and then I either had to "renew" the loan or "return" the book.

Piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--changed the way the music industry works, i.e., iTunes as mentioned somewhere downthread. Eventually, piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--will change the way the publishing industry works.

And all of the above having been said, I'm still not positive if any of what I have said makes any sense at all.

Depending on where you are, the author may get a payment for each time the book gets checked out of the library, so there's a difference there. Even if the author doesn't get paid directly, there's still the reality that a physical book will wear out after surprisingly few readings, meaning that a new book will have to be bought. Not the case with digital copies. And as you've noted, most libraries are pretty responsible about not signing out multiple copies of a single purchased e-book (that's why you have to 'return' it, so that someone else can read it). If they want more copies to circulate at once, they will have to buy another copy.

Same 'it will wear out eventually' argument goes for sharing a physical copy between friends. There's also the fact that most people only have a few friends who share their reading interests, so most shared books are only shared between a few people. Digital downloads, on the other hand, are being shared between total strangers all over the world, who knows how many times. The copies never wear out or have to be 'returned'. Some of the piracy sites, as noted above, are big business (through ads or through actually selling the pirated books), so someone is making a lot of money from the authors' hard work without the author being compensated at all.

I don't think we're ever going to stop it, and I don't think it's a crisis. But I DO think it's stealing, and I think people should stop pretending that it isn't.

Windcutter
12-25-2011, 01:26 AM
Here's my question in regard to books specifically: what's the difference between a pirated copy and going to the library to read the book?

What's the difference between having bought a book, and then sharing the physical copy among friends?
One of the ways to look at it is the issue of the author's will. The author agreed to give her book to a library. In some countries authors get paid for that (though the amount of money is rather low). The author did not intend to give her book away as a free download available to everyone. If the author wanted everyone to read her stuff for free, she would have just put it online.

As for the physical copy, it's the value of rereads & ownership. If four friends have one book, they might share it, but only one of them has the book at any given moment. They can't read it at the same time, well, they can, but it's not very convenient. With the digital format & piracy, each of them now owns a copy. They have absolutely no reason to buy this book now.


What happens when libraries go entirely digital?
I suspect that writing will become just a hobby and readers will whine about their favorite authors writing too slowly--because their favorite authors will now be forced to hold a day job no matter how popular their books are.

Or maybe there will be some system forcing people to pay for using a library (not per book, but as a monthly payment or something), and a part of it might somehow go to writers. But I doubt it. Too difficult to sort out the distribution.

Or maybe not. People brought up anime as another kind of product that often gets pirated--and look at Funimation now offering up-to-date online streaming.

Cyia
12-25-2011, 01:43 AM
I'm confused by all of the piracy talk. Really, I am.

Here's my question in regard to books specifically: what's the difference between a pirated copy and going to the library to read the book?

The library pays for the book. After it's worn out, they pay for it again. When it's no longer popular, they sell it.


What's the difference between having bought a book, and then sharing the physical copy among friends?One friend sharing among others (who might like the book enough to get their own copy) is nothing compared to making an infinite number of copies and handing them out so no one who takes a copy ever needs to buy their own.


In both situations you have a number of people reading the book for free. What happens when libraries go entirely digital? You'll have digital copies of books floating all over the Internet for absolutely free all over the place. I recently took out a digital library loan of a book. It remained on my computer for exactly four weeks, and then I either had to "renew" the loan or "return" the book.Most libraries won't go "completely" digital for a very long time. E-readers, while cheaper, are still outside the budget for most people. When you've got the latest census saying that roughly 1/2 the US population is hovering at the poverty line, physical books you can check-out are more accessible to the masses.


Piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--changed the way the music industry works, i.e., iTunes as mentioned somewhere downthread. Eventually, piracy--whether you think it is an okay thing to do or not--will change the way the publishing industry works.Maybe.

Maybe not.

You're comparing two completely different industries.


And all of the above having been said, I'm still not positive if any of what I have said makes any sense at all.It does. ;)

lucidzfl
12-25-2011, 02:18 AM
Didn't we all start writing because we wanted to and needed to create??
Christ....

Parametric
12-25-2011, 02:43 AM
I never have the nerve to join in on these piracy threads because I know 99% of people will violently disagree with me. But here goes. :tongue

I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong. Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong.

We learned in law school that much legislation is pushed through by powerful, well-funded bodies with influence and access. Copyright law is no different. For decades, copyright law has only ever become more restrictive. There's a fascinating graph here (http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/%28C%29_Term.html) showing the remorseless expansion of (US) copyright law, particularly the expansion of the duration of copyright. I gather (though I haven't researched it in detail) that the Copyright Term Extension Act, also known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act), was driven through in large part because of pressure from Disney. If that's the case, it's a classic example of how major corporations can influence laws to suit their interests, while the small consumer loses out.

Piracy is illegal because copyright law makes it so. But copyright law was written to protect the interests of people with money. These people spend considerable sums of money to "educate" the public that piracy is "stealing". That's an entirely subjective opinion that coincidentally happens to benefit their financial interests.

Copyright law could be rewritten tomorrow to strike a different balance between various interests. For example, it could be made legal to burn a purchased product to another form of media for personal use, like scanning an ebook from a bought print copy, or ripping a hard copy of an album to your hard drive. In that case, what we now consider piracy would become legal overnight. Presumably people would then no longer consider it wrong.

In a nutshell, I feel much more ambivalent about piracy than other posters.

(Disclaimer: Not a lawyer, may have dozed off during intellectual property class.)

(Anecdote: Last year I went to a book industry conference as part of my publishing degree. The panel were expressing their extreme hatred of book pirates. One said that pirates should be hanged; the panel laughed. My fellow publishing students sat in stony silence. All of us had pirated books, music and films. Many of us now work in publishing.)

Carrie in PA
12-25-2011, 02:44 AM
Here's my question in regard to books specifically: what's the difference between a pirated copy and going to the library to read the book?

What's the difference between having bought a book, and then sharing the physical copy among friends?

In both situations you have a number of people reading the book for free.

If I buy one book and lend it to my mom, 12 girlfriends and the mailman, I have not profited. If a library lends a book out a million times, they haven't profited.

And in both scenarios, nothing illegal has taken place. One copy is being read by one person at one time. Not one copy being parsed into millions of copies that are distributed by pirates - to line their treasure chests, not those of the author.

Carrie in PA
12-25-2011, 02:53 AM
Piracy is illegal because copyright law makes it so. But copyright law was written to protect the interests of people with money.

Regardless of the group the laws were intended to protect, copyright laws DO protect the author. Whether the author is Disney or Joe Schmoe, the intellectual property deserves to be protected, and random people who copy and distribute it shouldn't have the right to profit off the backs of the people who have done the work.

I won't disagree violently (It is Christmas after all, LOL) - but I very much disagree that piracy isn't wrong.

bearilou
12-25-2011, 02:54 AM
Didn't we all start writing because we wanted to and needed to create?? Let that sopping wet vag of a person find real work somewhere else.

Christ....

Um.... :eek:

jjdebenedictis
12-25-2011, 02:57 AM
There are serious NEEDS in this world that people are unable to have met because of the accident of where they were born. If these people feel driven to steal in order to meet their NEEDS, I understand it. I also understand how THEY might feel a "a deep, innate rage" at the world's injustices. I sympathize, I join them in railing against the injustice, and I try to help.

But having to wait an extra six months for a video game? Come on. Anyone who feels a deep rage about that is ABSOLUTELY suffering from an expanded sense of entitlement, and those who steal in response to the situation are just thieves, not crusaders for justice.You have a good point, and I agree with it. I'm just arguing as to why piracy happens.

I don't think demonizing the pirates will ever solve the problem. If we strive to understand their mindset, we're more likely to come up with a solution that works--and that's of value, because the current measures imposed by industry do not work.

On a related note, studies have shown middle-class and wealthy people are more likely to shoplift than poor people. You're quite right that pirates have a skewed (i.e. privileged) perspective on how tough their life is.

Parametric
12-25-2011, 02:58 AM
Regardless of the group the laws were intended to protect, copyright laws DO protect the author. Whether the author is Disney or Joe Schmoe, the intellectual property deserves to be protected, and random people who copy and distribute it shouldn't have the right to profit off the backs of the people who have done the work.

I won't disagree violently (It is Christmas after all, LOL) - but I very much disagree that piracy isn't wrong.

I very much agree that a copyright law is necessary to protect the rights of creators. There are a whole ton of reasons to have some form of copyright law. But there's no reason that we have to have our current copyright law. It's that current form, specifically, which I think was written by those people who have money. I don't know that authors necessarily benefit from this version as opposed to another. Maybe authors would be better off and sales would be higher with a different, more permissive version of copyright law. But we'll never know, because copyright is only heading in one direction: the term will get longer and the exceptions will get fewer and the penalties will get harsher.

lucidzfl
12-25-2011, 03:00 AM
Um.... :eek:

Sorry. Not trying to be difficult, but anyone who can just up and quit their job kind of bugs me. Lots of people are trying hard to find jobs. And writing is probably the cushiest job there is.

I'd be thrilled to do it for a living. And quite honestly, don't they care about the people who read their work?

Edited because iPad butchered my post :)

Carrie in PA
12-25-2011, 03:05 AM
I very much agree that a copyright law is necessary to protect the rights of creators. There are a whole ton of reasons to have some form of copyright law. But there's no reason that we have to have our current copyright law. It's that current form, specifically, which I think was written by those people who have money. I don't know that authors necessarily benefit from this version as opposed to another. Maybe authors would be better off with a different version of copyright law. Perhaps sales would be better with a more permissive model. But we'll never know, because copyright is only heading in one direction: the term will get longer and the exceptions will get fewer and the penalties will get harsher.

I don't disagree that copyright laws (and pretty much all other laws regarding everything under the sun) could probably be better written to benefit authors even more. And I also don't disagree that money talks and gets legislation passed.

But I do disagree that piracy isn't wrong because the laws protect the big boys more. :)

Medievalist
12-25-2011, 03:08 AM
Not one copy being parsed into millions of copies that are distributed by pirates - to line their treasure chests, not those of the author.

You do realize that most of the sites do not charge? The ones that do very quickly tend to be shutdown.

Part of the problem in terms of users is that surprisingly large numbers of them genuinely do not realize that downloading "free" books from the Internet is unethical; after all, most of the content on the Internet is free.

This is one reason I think it's helpful for authors to say "I do not get paid when you do not buy my book," or some version thereof.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 03:13 AM
I never have the nerve to join in on these piracy threads because I know 99% of people will violently disagree with me. But here goes. :tongue

I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong. Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong.

We learned in law school that much legislation is pushed through by powerful, well-funded bodies with influence and access. Copyright law is no different. For decades, copyright law has only ever become more restrictive. There's a fascinating graph here (http://www.tomwbell.com/writings/%28C%29_Term.html) showing the remorseless expansion of (US) copyright law, particularly the expansion of the duration of copyright. I gather (though I haven't researched it in detail) that the Copyright Term Extension Act, also known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_Term_Extension_Act), was driven through in large part because of pressure from Disney. If that's the case, it's a classic example of how major corporations can influence laws to suit their interests, while the small consumer loses out.

Piracy is illegal because copyright law makes it so. But copyright law was written to protect the interests of people with money. It could be rewritten tomorrow to strike a different balance between various interests. For example, it could be made legal to burn a purchased product to another form of media for personal use, like scanning an ebook from a bought print copy, or ripping a hard copy of an album to your hard drive. In that case, what we now consider piracy would become legal overnight. So I feel much more ambivalent about piracy than other posters.

(Disclaimer: Not a lawyer, may have dozed off during intellectual property class.)

(Anecdote: Last year I went to a book industry conference as part of my publishing degree. The panel were expressing their extreme hatred of book pirates. One said that pirates should be hanged; the panel laughed. My fellow publishing students sat in stony silence. All of us had pirated books, music and films. Many of us now work in publishing.)

Practically every law was written to protect those with money, or power, or, more often, both. If we're talking about overthrowing the entire system of private ownership, and establishing a global commune in which we share everything freely, then... great, let's talk.

But if we're not going that far, I don't see why copyright law should be singled out as being okay to violate. You think copyright only protects the rich; are you saying that it's morally acceptable to take things from the rich? So it's okay to shoplift from a store, as long as the store is owned by a large corporation? If the thing being taken is a NECESSITY, then, yeah, I agree, the laws don't line up with morality. But as much as I love reading, I don't think books qualify as necessary. So if you're saying that it's morally okay to take things from the rich, do you also think it's okay to take their physical belongings? If you want a rich person's jewelry, or car, or house, you have the moral right to take them?

How about looking at all this from the perspective of contract law? We're taught that contracts are essentially a meeting of the minds in which the parties lay out the terms under which they agree to do business. These terms obviously, although not explicitly, include the laws of the lands in which the contract is enforceable. So authors contract with publishers to make their work available, and publishers contract with readers to sell that work. But pirates aren't part of the contractual framework; they're taking the benefit of the author and the publisher's work without compensating the author or publisher. This seems moral to you? It doesn't seem like theft? How is it not theft, if they're taking something that belongs to someone else, without that person's agreement?

Also, remember that despite your cynical interpretation, copyright law doesn't only protect huge corporations, it also protects authors, most of whom, of course, are not making a lot of money from their craft. And remember that violating the rules of society, whatever the origin of the rules, has repercussions on the entire society, not just on the people with power and money.

I think it's great to question the laws of society. I think you're right that many of them are written to support the existing elites. But I think far too many people are using surface arguments to justify piracy without really looking at what it would mean if their arguments were accepted. These arguments, in my opinion, are just as self-serving as the laws written by the rich, and it's just as hypocritical to hold them up as somehow moral.

If you want to have philosophical debates about intellectual property, lets look at pharmaceuticals, or the predatory practices of companies like Monsanto, or anything else that deals with the real, important, life-changing aspects of the field. Book copyright? WAY down the list of things for a real rebel to fight against.

If someone has chosen to challenge intellectual property rights across the board, and is acting to change our legal system in order to make it more just for those who truly need help in order to survive, then they can read my books for free anytime they want to--I'll send them copies myself. But if people are just living their lives, taking advantage of all the rules of our society but feeling justified in violating copyright because they're 'fighting the power'... they can fool themselves, apparently, but they can't fool me, or others like me.

There's lots of great fiction out there available for free. If you want to read it, go get it. If you want to read MY fiction, I'd like you to pay for it. Those are the terms on which my work is offered to the public, and if you violate those terms, you are showing disrespect to me as a writer and as a fellow citizen. And, yeah, you're stealing.

Parametric
12-25-2011, 03:16 AM
I don't disagree that copyright laws (and pretty much all other laws regarding everything under the sun) could probably be better written to benefit authors even more. And I also don't disagree that money talks and gets legislation passed.

But I do disagree that piracy isn't wrong because the laws protect the big boys more. :)

Mm. My suspicion is more that the laws benefit powerful groups (such as the RIAA) to the extent of utterly crushing the consumer who just wants to listen to the music or read the book they paid for. These groups then "educate" the public that acts which could have been perfectly legal under a slightly different legislative model are morally wrong. These groups benefit from that. I'm not sure authors do.

Sophia
12-25-2011, 03:19 AM
I never have the nerve to join in on these piracy threads because I know 99% of people will violently disagree with me. But here goes. :tongue

I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong. Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong.

[...]

Copyright law could be rewritten tomorrow to strike a different balance between various interests. For example, it could be made legal to burn a purchased product to another form of media for personal use, like scanning an ebook from a bought print copy, or ripping a hard copy of an album to your hard drive. In that case, what we now consider piracy would become legal overnight. Presumably people would then no longer consider it wrong.

Could it be because we're perhaps discussing different things when we say "piracy"? What you've described sounds like the equivalent of fair use, to me, and I would have no objection to anybody doing it with my own work. It fits the legal definition of piracy, but it's not what I think of as piracy. It's the image of someone taking a copy of my work and never paying for it, and then distributing it to others, whether for free or not, that I object to. That's what I personally think of as piracy, and as stealing.

It's been suggested before on AW when this subject comes up that (paraphrasing) because the author hasn't been deprived of their own copy of an eBook, piracy, as I think of it, isn't stealing. To me, the fact that what is now in the possession of someone who didn't pay for it is one of a potentially infinite number of copies, and that the author still has their own copy, is irrelevant semantics. It's stealing because the pirate didn't pay the one person or entity who has the right to decide what happens to the eBook. I can't think of that as anything but wrong.

Parametric
12-25-2011, 03:27 AM
Captcha, I'm not a rebel, and I don't want to overthrow the system of private ownership. I just question whether the current form of copyright law is really best for everyone, or whether it unfairly privileges some people's interests above others. Perhaps another, more permissive form of copyright law (that decriminalises various acts) would be more beneficial to authors and readers. I don't think that necessarily means that I go around stealing rich people's handbags. :tongue

Captcha
12-25-2011, 03:33 AM
Captcha, I'm not a rebel, and I don't want to overthrow the system of private ownership. I just question whether the current form of copyright law is really best for everyone, or whether it unfairly privileges some people's interests above others. Perhaps another, more permissive form of copyright law (that decriminalises various acts) would be more beneficial to authors and readers. I don't think that necessarily means that I go around stealing rich people's handbags. :tongue

I expect you keep your hands off their handbags. But I'd almost RATHER people stole handbags, assuming they'd be stuffed with cash, because the cash could at least theoretically be used to fulfill a real need, while pirating books or songs or movies is absolutely, clearly related to fulfilling a mere want.

And I'm all for looking at copyright laws with a critical eye. But until that happens, I think there's value in either following the rules because they're the rules, or challenging the rules openly because they're wrong. Sneakily violating the rules because people want something for themselves doesn't lead to social change, and it DOES hurt other people who were making their decisions based on the assumption that the rules would be followed.

If we change copyright laws, fine, I'll find a way to work within the new laws. But until that happens, I'm trying to work within the existing laws, and I think the basic idea of the social contract suggests that everyone else should be trying to do the same.

Windcutter
12-25-2011, 03:56 AM
(Anecdote: Last year I went to a book industry conference as part of my publishing degree. The panel were expressing their extreme hatred of book pirates. One said that pirates should be hanged; the panel laughed. My fellow publishing students sat in stony silence. All of us had pirated books, music and films. Many of us now work in publishing.)
I think it's simply because there is so little money for the writer in the publishing industry. And for a lot of people, any kind of piracy is immediately associated with getting even less money. If every midlist author had the kind of income that could be easily compared to, say, a middle level office job--I doubt there would be that much hate towards piracy.

This is one reason I think it's helpful for authors to say "I do not get paid when you do not buy my book," or some version thereof.
Get paid? For your little writing hobby? Are you kidding? You ain't one of the great American novelists we studied at school, so why would you need to get paid? Get a day job like normal people do and stop whining. If you don't like it, quit. There is a lot of good writers out there so I won't run out of books to read. Besides, you are a soulless hack if you care about money at all. A true artist should suffer for their art.
--that's what you will most likely hear in response. You won't believe the number of people who think writers are spoiled because they get paid. Now editors, typesetters, bookstore consultants... those are hard-working people with real jobs. Writers, phew, they just scribble. They should be happy someone is reading what they write.

Medievalist
12-25-2011, 03:58 AM
Mm. My suspicion is more that the laws benefit powerful groups (such as the RIAA) to the extent of utterly crushing the consumer who just wants to listen to the music or read the book they paid for. These groups then "educate" the public that acts which could have been perfectly legal under a slightly different legislative model are morally wrong. These groups benefit from that. I'm not sure authors do.

Allowing a corporate entity essentially immortal lifespan rights, with all the personal rights of human is wrong.

I think life plus 70 is sufficient term of copyright for anyone.

mscelina
12-25-2011, 04:38 AM
I have strong feelings about e-book piracy, and those feelings have gotten stronger since we started Musa. There are so many people out there who think that the following--


Get paid? For your little writing hobby? Are you kidding? You ain't one of the great American novelists we studied at school, so why would you need to get paid? Get a day job like normal people do and stop whining. If you don't like it, quit. There is a lot of good writers out there so I won't run out of books to read. Besides, you are a soulless hack if you care about money at all. A true artist should suffer for their art.
--that's what you will most likely hear in response. You won't believe the number of people who think writers are spoiled because they get paid. Now editors, typesetters, bookstore consultants... those are hard-working people with real jobs. Writers, phew, they just scribble. They should be happy someone is reading what they write.

--is fact instead of irony. Because an ebook isn't TANGIBLE, because it's not something that can be slipped into a purse or a pocket and snuck past a physical cash register, folks think pirating isn't really theft.

But it is. For every copy of a Musa book stolen (because piracy IS stealing), the author loses money, the artist loses money, the editor loses money, the line editor loses money, the interior book designer loses money and (here's where it gets really annoying) I lose money. Every copy of a Musa book downloaded from a torrent site is the equivalent of reaching into my pocket and stealing my wallet. So e-piracy isn't a "victimless" crime. Each theft of an e-book has multiple victims.

That being said--would that make me forego writing? Or publishing? What, are you nuts? Just because my hotel room was ransacked when I was on vacation with my family when I was eleven doesn't mean that I quit going to Florida. (Took a hurricane to do that) So the behavior of the thieves who pirate books isn't going to keep me from doing what I love to do.

Regardless of whether someone pirates a self-published chapbook or the next Twilight book, it's still theft. But quitting what you love because some people are too stupid or lack the sufficient morality to keep from pilfering your work is just plain silly. Almost as silly as anyone saying "oh, but piracy leads to ebook sales" or "if someone really likes their pirated book they'll buy your next one" or "think of it as a compliment that someone liked your book enough to pirate it!" Bullshit. I don't think that getting my money stolen is a compliment to my taste in purses. There is no excuse for thievery.

But I don't quit anything I do and love because of the behavior of someone else. And if anyone wants to read my books and is comfortable with the fact that they've literally reached into my pocket and swiped five bucks that's on them. *shrug* They're the ones who have to live with being thieves--not me.




Allowing a corporate entity essentially immortal lifespan rights, with all the personal rights of human is wrong.

I think life plus 70 is sufficient term of copyright for anyone.

Amen. QFT.

James D. Macdonald
12-25-2011, 05:20 AM
In both situations you have a number of people reading the book for free.

Libraries aren't "free" for the readers. Supporting the public library is a line item in the town budget, supported by taxes. And the taxes are collected from everyone, even if that individual never checks out a book at all.

I can give you some real numbers.

My little collection, Two From the Mageworlds (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/57702), is available worldwide (so no accessibility problems) through Smashwords. It's up on Amazon for the Kindle, and I have no DRM on it, so there's no technical challenge to "breaking" it, and there's no reason to do so in order to read it on any device you have or make as many backups as you need. It's cheap; $0.99 (the lowest amount you can charge for an e-book without giving it away for free). It's been up since May. It wasn't put up by some greedy corporation; it's me, self-publishing.

It's been bought 12 times from Smashwords, 8 times from Barnes & Noble, 5 times from Apple, 2 times from Sony, and 108 from Amazon.

It's also been posted on various pirate download sites. Here's just one of them: nitrodownloads.net/search/Two+from+the+Mageworlds+eBook+James+D.+Macdonald%2 C+Debra+Doyle

It's had 19,928 downloads.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 05:54 AM
Ah, iteration eleventy-seven of the Great Piracy Debate. ;)


I never have the nerve to join in on these piracy threads because I know 99% of people will violently disagree with me. But here goes. :tongue

I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong. Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong.

I get what you're saying, and I largely agree.



But it is. For every copy of a Musa book stolen (because piracy IS stealing), the author loses money, the artist loses money, the editor loses money, the line editor loses money, the interior book designer loses money and (here's where it gets really annoying) I lose money. Every copy of a Musa book downloaded from a torrent site is the equivalent of reaching into my pocket and stealing my wallet. So e-piracy isn't a "victimless" crime. Each theft of an e-book has multiple victims.

No. And realize that every time you say things like this, you make your position less tenable and less likely to be taken seriously.

Every pirate download of one of your ebooks is not equal to stealing money from you. If that were the case, I could upload one of your books to a torrent site, then write a script to download it 10,000 times, and whee! I just stole tens of thousands of dollars from you!

Ridiculous, right? But that's what you are claiming.

A pirated ebook only represents a loss of money to you if and only if: (a) it is downloaded by someone (b) who would have paid for it if they had not been able to download it.

It's that second condition that so many authors and publishers ignore. The vast majority of pirates would never have bought your book in the first place, ergo, as exasperating, frustrating, and morally outrageous as it may be for them to be downloading (and in some, but not most cases reading it) without buying it, they are not actually "taking" money from you. You are not being deprived of any money that you would otherwise have received. And since an ebook is not a tangible asset -- here is where digital books really are different from other goods -- you have not lost any materials, nor will someone else be unable to buy the book that was "stolen," as would be the case for a physical book shoplifted from a physical bookstore.


I don't blame writers and publishers for being pissed off. It's a very understandable, emotional reaction, and of course you'd like to believe that 10,000 illegal downloads represents the true popularity of your book and it's just these thousands and thousands of pirate downloads keeping you from making decent money. But it ain't so.

Note: I don't pirate. I don't advocate piracy. I pay for all my ebooks. I do think authors should get paid.

But:

This is how it is. Digital books will be available for free for anyone who wants them free. Deal with it. You can't stop it. Draconian laws will not stop it. DRM will not stop it. Throwing tantrums about how pirates are dirty rotten thieves and oughta be hung will not stop it. (All of that will make people like me, though, who generally do like to pay writers for producing stuff we like, more sympathetic to the pirates.)

Captcha
12-25-2011, 06:19 AM
(All of that will make people like me, though, who generally do like to pay writers for producing stuff we like, more sympathetic to the pirates.)

It makes you MORE sympathetic to pirates when people point out that they are stealing? What would make them less sympathetic, if we said that they are giving to charity?

I agree with what you're saying about pirates not AUTOMATICALLY being lost sales; that is absolutely the argument that I use to keep myself from losing sleep over all this. But if you're being truthful about saying that you understand why authors and publishers are angry, why does it make you less sympathetic to them when they express their anger?

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 06:40 AM
This is how it is. Digital books will be available for free for anyone who wants them free. Deal with it. You can't stop it. Draconian laws will not stop it. DRM will not stop it. Throwing tantrums about how pirates are dirty rotten thieves and oughta be hung will not stop it. (All of that will make people like me, though, who generally do like to pay writers for producing stuff we like, more sympathetic to the pirates.)

This.


It makes you MORE sympathetic to pirates when people point out that they are stealing? What would make them less sympathetic, if we said that they are giving to charity?

I agree with what you're saying about pirates not AUTOMATICALLY being lost sales; that is absolutely the argument that I use to keep myself from losing sleep over all this. But if you're being truthful about saying that you understand why authors and publishers are angry, why does it make you less sympathetic to them when they express their anger?

Because piracy is not the equivalent of theft, and the more irrational content providers behave, the more draconian the laws they buy and the delivery systems they create are going to become. When one day soon lawyers follow you around every time you open a book you thought you bought (nah, you only bought a license to read it), I don't think anyone will wonder why people pirate anymore.

When we are staring at bills like SOPA and the Protect IP Act seriously being considered by Congress, it should be utterly self-evident that IP law needs a MASSIVE overhaul — and one that is not bought buy the RIAA and MPAA.

Do not kid yourselves. Modern IP law is not about protecting authors. It's about allowing corporations to sue the shit out of potential customers.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 06:43 AM
It makes you MORE sympathetic to pirates when people point out that they are stealing?

No, it makes me more sympathetic to pirates when people misuse words like "stealing" and then use dramatic emotive arguments to condemn anyone who is not as outraged as they are as EvilWrongBadPirateThief sympathizers.


I agree with what you're saying about pirates not AUTOMATICALLY being lost sales; that is absolutely the argument that I use to keep myself from losing sleep over all this. But if you're being truthful about saying that you understand why authors and publishers are angry, why does it make you less sympathetic to them when they express their anger?

I see what you did there.

Look bub, I have published works out there, for which I receive royalties, that are being pirated. Widely, frequently, with ease.

I daresay one or two of those pirated copies might have even been purchased for real live money if all pirate copies everywhere blipped out of existence. So OMG I've been robbed!

Do I get to join the morally outraged club now?

To answer your question: I am always less sympathetic to people who get angry and irrational and believe that moral indignation is an adequate reason not to apply critical thinking.

I have never seen any evidence that any publisher or author has suffered a net loss of revenue from piracy. I am not saying it hasn't happened, and I suspect that there is some small loss as a result of piracy, though measuring it against possible gains (and yes, Cory Doctorow is not completely talking out of his ass, there are gains that result from pirated books as well) would be even more difficult than coming up with hard figures for sales losses.

I just don't take seriously any argument that in any way tries to guesstimate "losses" on the premise that an illegal download = "theft" or the assumption that more than a tiny, tiny fraction of them represent lost sales.

Also, I lose sympathy for the moral outrage argument because then I see those same folks insisting this is why we need things like DRM and the DMCA and the like, and my response to that is Fuck no. I'd rather just see a Neal Stephenson-style datahaven put online and make everything everywhere available for free.

Getting even more philosophical (while I am in a pissing-off-writers mood): I see nothing sacred about the presumption that any individual entertainer is indeed entitled to be paid for his or her work. What you are entitled to do is put your work out there, find out what people are willing to pay for it (if anything), and then decide on that basis whether or not it's worth it for you to continue.

If you want to make a living as a writer, convince people you deserve to be paid. Authors are still making a living even though all ebooks are available for free for those who want them. Some authors are even putting their books online for free themselves, and still being paid for them. So in a sense, pirates are voting with their dollars as much as anyone else.

Wait, wait, I know what you're going to say: "But they don't have a right to decide whether or not they want to pay for it! I decide whether or not I want it to be free!"

Legally, yes. Morally, maybe. But as a practical matter? No, no you don't. Sorry.

mscelina
12-25-2011, 06:47 AM
No. And realize that every time you say things like this, you make your position less tenable and less likely to be taken seriously.

Every pirate download of one of your ebooks is not equal to stealing money from you. If that were the case, I could upload one of your books to a torrent site, then write a script to download it 10,000 times, and whee! I just stole tens of thousands of dollars from you!

Ridiculous, right? But that's what you are claiming.

A pirated ebook only represents a loss of money to you if and only if: (a) it is downloaded by someone (b) who would have paid for it if they had not been able to download it.

It's that second condition that so many authors and publishers ignore. The vast majority of pirates would never have bought your book in the first place, ergo, as exasperating, frustrating, and morally outrageous as it may be for them to be downloading (and in some, but not most cases reading it) without buying it, they are not actually "taking" money from you. You are not being deprived of any money that you would otherwise have received. And since an ebook is not a tangible asset -- here is where digital books really are different from other goods -- you have not lost any materials, nor will someone else be unable to buy the book that was "stolen," as would be the case for a physical book shoplifted from a physical bookstore.


I don't blame writers and publishers for being pissed off. It's a very understandable, emotional reaction, and of course you'd like to believe that 10,000 illegal downloads represents the true popularity of your book and it's just these thousands and thousands of pirate downloads keeping you from making decent money. But it ain't so.

Note: I don't pirate. I don't advocate piracy. I pay for all my ebooks. I do think authors should get paid.

But:

This is how it is. Digital books will be available for free for anyone who wants them free. Deal with it. You can't stop it. Draconian laws will not stop it. DRM will not stop it. Throwing tantrums about how pirates are dirty rotten thieves and oughta be hung will not stop it. (All of that will make people like me, though, who generally do like to pay writers for producing stuff we like, more sympathetic to the pirates.)

Bullshit. And let me tell you why.

I have a staff of over thirty people. I have over a hundred authors. Some of those authors, I have paid advances to. That means that I also have a business relationship with literary agencies. I also have business dealings with multiple third party retailers, whom I pay a percentage to for every single Musa book sold on their websites.

I have paid for the following with every book:

A website.

A book page listing.

Cover art.

Interior book design.

Line editing.

Content editing.

Uploading and formatting.

Promotions and publicity.

Federal taxes.

State taxes.

Local taxes.

Sales taxes.

In order to be sold on Amazon, I must put DRM on every book--otherwise I will only be paid 30% royalties per sale of that book. Out of that 30%, 50% goes to the author, 10% to the content editor, another percentage to line editing and interior book design. I pay cash for cover art, for advertising, and for website development, design and maintenance.

Here again--it's a question of tangibility. You see it all over this website. "Do you prefer ebooks or REAL books?" Because for some stupid reason, if you can't put it on a shelf, it's not a REAL book.

That book is someone's intellectual property, and I have contracted the rights to publish that intellectual property. In exchange for that right, I provide more intellectual property in the form of art, design, and website buy pages. For THAT intellectual property, I PAY the artists, designers, and web developers out of my own pocket. First. Before the book hits the shelves, I am forking out money to make that book the absolutely best product I can.

And YOU think that my objections to piracy makes MY position untenable?

Fu*k that definition of "untenable."

Musa came about because an e-publisher defaulted on all the things I listed above. She continued to SELL those books, but she wasn't PAYING the authors, artists, editors, and designers for THEIR work. Their intellectual property. Now, that's a clear violation of intellectual property. Why? Because she wasn't turning over the profits for those books.

She was pirating them. She turned her business into an electronic pirating site, because any and all sales of those books put money into her pocket and not the people who really owned the intellectual property she profited from.

I guaran-damn-tee you that if someone was profiting from your intellectual property and YOU were not getting paid, you'd have a damn problem with it too.

You can argue semantics and perch upon your pillar pontificating all you like. But when someone downloads a Musa book for free from an E-PIRATE, a thief, a no-good piece of shit petty larcenist with a laptop, they are stealing from innumerable people--not only their money, and I can tell you to the last freaking DIME how much it takes to produce a high-end e-book, but also their intellectual property because they are taking it without the knowledge or permission of the copyright holder, the publisher, and all the other people's intellectual property that is tied in irrevocably with that book.

Maybe you're happy profiting off the proceeds of stolen intellectual property. Maybe you justify it because the cops aren't going to find it in your shed and run you in for trafficking of stolen goods. Maybe you think that all the fancy tech talk somehow makes it all okay. But the fact of the matter is that people who download pirated goods would purchase those ebooks if they couldn't easily procure them for free.

Musa lists its books at extremely consumer-friendly prices. Our prices are set according to the length of each book, and those price points don't change according to who wrote what book or what genre it's in. But you know what? I pay the same amount for cover art regardless of whether the book is 5k or 500k. I pay the same amount for every other aspect of the publication process. And when I look at numbers like the ones Uncle Jim just listed, do you know what I see?

I see the difference between a very merry Christmas for a lot of people, and a meager, dark, dismal Christmas with people who can't provide for their family just because they've been paid the "compliment" of having their books stolen by internet hijackers without thought or care for the people they're harming.

And I see all those people hovering around the torrent sites, and comforting themselves that because people like YOU think that pirating's okay, then it must only be a little theft, a harmless theft.

A victimless crime.

I don't write my books for free. I expect to be paid money when they are published. As a publisher, I am obligated to pay everyone involved in the process fairly for their work and intellectual property. Hell, I don't agree with DRM all that much--I think it's stupid to insult the people who DID pay for the book with anti-theft software that anyone with a computer and google-fu can figure out how to eliminate. But I'll tell you one thing--I don't give a rat's ass who the e-pirate is, but if/when I find asshats pawning off Musa products for free or sale on line, I will pursue every avenue open to me to get them off line and out of the pockets of my authors and staff.

If someone wants to read a Musa book and can't afford it, they can let me know and I'll purchase the goddamn book myself and give it to them. At least that way, I know my authors and staff will get paid for their work.

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 06:51 AM
My heart sinks every time I buy an ebook with DRM, because though the author may be getting a few pittance royalties from it, I know most of that money is just going to a publisher that supports this bullshit system.

I should start doing what I do with movies and TV shows: buy a hard copy and pirate the digital version.

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 06:56 AM
And YOU think that my objections to piracy makes MY position untenable?

But absolutely none of that actually supports your position that it's like reaching into your wallet and stealing your money.



She was pirating them. She turned her business into an electronic pirating site, because any and all sales of those books put money into her pocket and not the people who really owned the intellectual property she profited from.

I guaran-damn-tee you that if someone was profiting from your intellectual property and YOU were not getting paid, you'd have a damn problem with it too.

Which is entirely different from the vast majority of piracy about which we are talking.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 07:02 AM
Musa came about because an e-publisher defaulted on all the things I listed above. She continued to SELL those books, but she wasn't PAYING the authors, artists, editors, and designers for THEIR work. Their intellectual property. Now, that's a clear violation of intellectual property. Why? Because she wasn't turning over the profits for those books.

That's not the same thing as pirating. That's a for-profit publisher in violation of contractual obligations.


Maybe you're happy profiting off the proceeds of stolen intellectual property. Maybe you justify it because the cops aren't going to find it in your shed and run you in for trafficking of stolen goods. Maybe you think that all the fancy tech talk somehow makes it all okay. But the fact of the matter is that people who download pirated goods would purchase those ebooks if they couldn't easily procure them for free.

1. I'm going to assume that the "you" was rhetorical and you're not accusing me of being a pirate even though I very specifically said that I do not engage in piracy.

2. That part I bolded above is very much in question. It is not a "fact" at all but an assumption, and in the majority of cases, a false one.


And I see all those people hovering around the torrent sites, and comforting themselves that because people like YOU think that pirating's okay, then it must only be a little theft, a harmless theft.

Ah, I see. You're not accusing me of being a pirate, but I'm just as bad as them because I give them aid and comfort by not hating them as much as you do.

If you're going to fling spittle at me, use my actual words. I did not say pirating is "okay." Quite the contrary.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 07:03 AM
This.



Because piracy is not the equivalent of theft, and the more irrational content providers behave, the more draconian the laws they buy and the delivery systems they create are going to become. When one day soon lawyers follow you around every time you open a book you thought you bought (nah, you only bought a license to read it), I don't think anyone will wonder why people pirate anymore.

When we are staring at bills like SOPA and the Protect IP Act seriously being considered by Congress, it should be utterly self-evident that IP law needs a MASSIVE overhaul — and one that is not bought buy the RIAA and MPAA.

Do not kid yourselves. Modern IP law is not about protecting authors. It's about allowing corporations to sue the shit out of potential customers.

I don't really find argument by italics all that compelling. Can you explain why piracy is not the equivalent of theft?

And I agree that SOPA is insane. But I have not yet seen anyone on this thread argue that piracy is such a serious threat that it justifies such draconian legislation. Rather, I have seen people stating that piracy is morally wrong, and that pirates are stealing from, among other people, a lot of authors on this board.

And, don't kid yourself. There is very little that modern corporations do that is not motivated directly by hunting for profits. If the corporations felt that the people they were suing the shit out of were actually potential customers, I expect their behaviour would change pretty dramatically. Rather, I think corporations are going after people who they do not believe will ever be customers. I'm not sure if the corporations are right about this, but I'm not sure they're wrong, either. Once a pirate, always a pirate?

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 07:12 AM
I don't really find argument by italics all that compelling. Can you explain why piracy is not the equivalent of theft?

Frankly, I just didn't want to argue what Amadan already did well before me, nor repeat what I've said in all of the other threads about this. Maybe if I weren't on a virtual keyboard.


And I agree that SOPA is insane. But I have not yet seen anyone on this thread argue that piracy is such a serious threat that it justifies such draconian legislation. Rather, I have seen people stating that piracy is morally wrong, and that pirates are stealing from, among other people, a lot of authors on this board.

The problem is SOPA is the kind of thing that blindly calling piracy "stealing" leads to.


And, don't kid yourself. There is very little that modern corporations do that is not motivated directly by hunting for profits. If the corporations felt that the people they were suing the shit out of were actually potential customers, I expect their behaviour would change pretty dramatically. Rather, I think corporations are going after people who they do not believe will ever be customers. I'm not sure if the corporations are right about this, but I'm not sure they're wrong, either. Once a pirate, always a pirate?

If they really believe that, then they are wrong. As others have pointed out, there are many very simple steps they could take to turn many pirates into paying customers, from offering DRM-free versions to different formats to faster international rollout, etc. Rather, they are being blinded by their own greed. As soon as those reasons go away, then sure, I'll support them going after the pirates who pirate for the hell of it all they want.

Alessandra Kelley
12-25-2011, 07:13 AM
In order to be sold on Amazon, I must put DRM on every book--otherwise I will only be paid 30% royalties per sale of that book.

Can that be right? My husband (Richard Garfinkle) has put books on Amazon for the Kindle. We're morally opposed to DRM and refuse to implement it. At least, I hope we managed to, since we are definitely on the 70% royalty plan.

thebloodfiend
12-25-2011, 07:14 AM
I should start doing what I do with movies and TV shows: buy a hard copy and pirate the digital version.

I already do. I see no point in buying something twice to view it in a different format. Besides, it's easier to read old scanned comic books on my computer and buy them from my local comic book shop. A lot of backissues aren't available in digital format and a lot of manga scanalations haven't been translated to English or the rest of the series hasn't been translated.

However, with kindle books, here's a bit of fun -- with kindle ebooks, you can view the ebook on 6 different kindles at a time. Any number of kindles can be linked to one account. So, if one person bought the book and linked six different kindles (computers, phones, etc...) and then deleted them off whenever someone else wanted to read it, that's legal, right?

But an infinite amount of people could still read the book, just only six at a time. Why is this more right (I mean, it's from Amazon, so it's legal according to the their "you only own a license to view the book stance") than putting a book up on a forum and getting 10,000 downloads at once?

I mean, what should the limit be on "licenses" to view an ebook that I purchased? And should simultaneous viewing be allowed?

ETA: I have had my art pirated and I've had it sold without my permission. Unfortunately, I wasn't given credit in either case. I sent a notice to the woman selling my art. She immediately took it down. I didn't do anything about the art that was being distributed for free. I'm not mad because it's being distributed, I'm mad because I'm not getting any credit. I have no problems with piracy. I don't think it's right or wrong. But I have a problem with work being distributed without the author getting credit. That, IMO, is true theft.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 07:23 AM
Also, I lose sympathy for the moral outrage argument because then I see those same folks insisting this is why we need things like DRM and the DMCA and the like, and my response to that is Fuck no. I'd rather just see a Neal Stephenson-style datahaven put online and make everything everywhere available for free.

Getting even more philosophical (while I am in a pissing-off-writers mood): I see nothing sacred about the presumption that any individual entertainer is indeed entitled to be paid for his or her work. What you are entitled to do is put your work out there, find out what people are willing to pay for it (if anything), and then decide on that basis whether or not it's worth it for you to continue.

If you want to make a living as a writer, convince people you deserve to be paid. Authors are still making a living even though all ebooks are available for free for those who want them. Some authors are even putting their books online for free themselves, and still being paid for them. So in a sense, pirates are voting with their dollars as much as anyone else.

Wait, wait, I know what you're going to say: "But they don't have a right to decide whether or not they want to pay for it! I decide whether or not I want it to be free!"

Legally, yes. Morally, maybe. But as a practical matter? No, no you don't. Sorry.

I don't quite know where the 'bub' came from, but I like it almost as much as the swan-related paranoia! (Swans steal the best loot out of everyone's stockings, bub!)

Anyway... I don't know quite where I fit into your DRM-promoting, DCMA-hating spectrum, except... I don't like DRM. I use the DCMA when it suits my purposes. I don't feel highly emotional about any of this, although I was certainly alarmed the first time my books appeared on a pirate site.

But I think we need to pick our terms of debate. Are we talking purely practically? You're right, nothing can be done to stop piracy. It's a fact. You win.

Are we talking legally? Piracy is illegal. From time to time, people are punished for engaging in it, but overall, it's a hard-to-enforce law. Let's call this one a draw.

Morally? This is where things get interesting, at least for me. Because I think morally, we are all absolutely entitled to use the products of our minds as we choose. If we lived in a system where there was no copyright, people could choose to create or to not create, with full knowledge that whatever they created was going to in the public domain. If we lived in a system with enforceable copyright, people could chose to create or not to create, with full knowledge that whatever they created was going to remain under their control to be distributed according to their wishes. The problem comes because we live in a weird middle ground, where we have copyright but can't always enforce it. So people are creating with one understanding of how their work will be treated, and then discovering that in reality, their work will actually be handled in a very different way. I don't think that's a good system.

But, more importantly, I don't think it's a good system to allow people to fool themselves that they are pirating books because they're forced to, or because the system is so deeply flawed that it doesn't matter. No. They're pirating books because they want to enjoy someone else's work without paying the price that the other person wants them to pay. I know we can't stop them from being pirates, but maybe we can at least discourage them from being hypocrites.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 07:38 AM
Frankly, I just didn't want to argue what Amadan already did well before me, nor repeat what I've said in all of the other threads about this. Maybe if I weren't on a virtual keyboard.


So if you've already tired of the argument, why are you chiming in? I mean... can you see why that's a little frustrating for others? I'm just supposed to change my mind about the nature of piracy based on something you said on some other threads that I've never read?

And, really, if you're saying that you don't want to engage in the argument, then it's a bit silly to carry on making new arguments (that SOPA is a result of people calling piracy theft) that are based on the argument you don't want to make.

In terms of you supporting anti-piracy measures if corporations have done enough to be reasonable... my primary publisher issues my books DRM free, to a wide number of distributors internationally, for a price that seems pretty reasonable to me. And my books are still widely pirated, although the publisher is pretty on-the-ball about getting them taken down. Do you support my publisher in their work against these pirates, or are there more hoops that you'd like them to jump through? I don't think that the pirates are 'pirating for the hell of it', of course... I think they're doing it because they don't want to pay $5.38 for a full length novel.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 07:44 AM
But, more importantly, I don't think it's a good system to allow people to fool themselves that they are pirating books because they're forced to, or because the system is so deeply flawed that it doesn't matter. No. They're pirating books because they want to enjoy someone else's work without paying the price that the other person wants them to pay. I know we can't stop them from being pirates, but maybe we can at least discourage them from being hypocrites.

I have argued with folks on the "pro-piracy" side of the fence before. I am sympathetic to people who live in other countries where legal, reasonably-priced books are not available to them. I am not sympathetic to middle-class kids in the US who think they are entitled to have what they want for free. I think few people are "forced" to pirate books, and I have scoffed at more than a few who exhibited nothing more than an egregious sense of entitlement.

That said, I think the only winning strategy for writers is to persuade readers to pay for their work. Which is a harder and harder job since so much free content is available online. But so it goes.

In all honesty, I think fan fiction and self-published ebooks are as great a threat to the aspiring professional author or publisher as piracy. My evidence is anecdotal, but I see more and more people talking about how they get most of their fiction needs from fanfic or $0.99 Kindle books. Some will even admit that the quality of writing is usually crap, but they just want to be entertained, cheaply.

I think authors should be as worried about this trend as they are about ebook piracy, but everyone knows you can't do anything about fan fiction or self-publishers, so they focus on piracy because at least that's (nominally) illegal so you can build up a good head of steam over it.

Ultimately, most writers are not able to make a living writing, and frankly, there aren't nearly as many who deserve to as there are who think they deserve to.

blacbird
12-25-2011, 07:47 AM
I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong.

Nor did John Teach, or Roberts or Kidd. But you are willing to share other people's property without their consent, right?

So, if I happen to leave my bicycle out in my driveway overnight, it's okay for you to take it?


Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong.

You do realize that the very concept of "copyright" was instituted to protect artists, don't you?

caw

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 07:50 AM
Re: the piracy = lost sales argument, in general.

This example won't use books but software, so forgive me, but I think it is illustrative nonetheless.

Many iPhone apps report up to 75-95% piracy rates (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2010/01/450-million-iphone-piracy-figure-not-grounded-in-reality.ars). So let's say 9 copies of the app are pirated for each 1 sold. Note, however, that in order to run a pirated app, you have to have jail broken your iPhone. About 1 in 10 iPhones are jailbroken (http://isource.com/2009/11/20/percentage-of-iphone-jailbreak-users-rising-at-almost-10/), and about 40% of those are used to run pirated apps (http://ismashphone.com/2010/08/what-percentage-of-jailbroken-iphones-are-used-to-pirate-apps.html). So about 4% of iPhone users pirate apps.

Now let's think about this. 4% of users account for 95% of an app's downloads, which also corresponds to the pirated copies of that app. The other 96% of iPhone users do not have the option to pirate the app, and, as a whole, buy it once for every 9 or so times it is pirated; it isn't available for them for free at all. Accounting for exposure, that means it's downloaded at a rate 216 times greater in the pirate-only community than in the legitimate purchasing community. So if you are wondering how many pirated copies would turn into legitimate sales if pirating wasn't an option, the answer, empirically and approximately, is less than one percent.

So do pirated copies really equal lost sales? Or do people just like downloading free stuff?

ETA: "Doesn't want to pay $X for product Y" is not the same as "wants free stuff."

Cyia
12-25-2011, 07:57 AM
They grey area / dispute of piracy being theft or not comes from the normal definition of theft as depriving the rightful owner of use of their property. It's an antiquated definition.

Pirates don't deprive the original artist of their property, nor can it be proven that they cost the original artist due income, so they say it's not theft.

What's interesting is that with new digital watermarks (such as the kind Rowling's mentioned for the HP e-books), each download will maintain the identity of the original owner, as that one specific copy will be licensed for use by that one specific purchaser. If the definitions change to meet technology, then with a system like that in place (as opposed to DRM), it would be much simpler to point a finger at a specific person and say they're responsible for the exponential downloads their first illegal upload led to. They may have only uploaded a file once, but if the chain can be kept in tact without the information stripped, it would be possible to prove that one upload led to 5,000 dowloads (or whatever).

(I'm sure there will be a system in place to "wash" the files of such information at some point, but it's an interesting approach none the less.)

ETA:


Or do people just like downloading free stuff?

Exactly.

Put gibberish up for a free download, and you'll end up with hundreds, if not thousands, of people snagging a copy.

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 07:58 AM
So if you've already tired of the argument, why are you chiming in? I mean... can you see why that's a little frustrating for others? I'm just supposed to change my mind about the nature of piracy based on something you said on some other threads that I've never read?

And, really, if you're saying that you don't want to engage in the argument, then it's a bit silly to carry on making new arguments (that SOPA is a result of people calling piracy theft) that are based on the argument you don't want to make.

Do you really want me to just repeat what Amadan and Parametric said? I'm posting from a virtual keyboard, so I hope you'll understand why I don't want to repeat arguments that have already been made in this thread.


In terms of you supporting anti-piracy measures if corporations have done enough to be reasonable... my primary publisher issues my books DRM free, to a wide number of distributors internationally, for a price that seems pretty reasonable to me. And my books are still widely pirated, although the publisher is pretty on-the-ball about getting them taken down. Do you support my publisher in their work against these pirates, or are there more hoops that you'd like them to jump through?

No, that sounds pretty good to me. I wish more publishers did the same.


I don't think that the pirates are 'pirating for the hell of it', of course... I think they're doing it because they don't want to pay $5.38 for a full length novel.

See above.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 08:04 AM
Nor did John Teach, or Roberts or Kidd. But you are willing to share other people's property without their consent, right?

So, if I happen to leave my bicycle out in my driveway overnight, it's okay for you to take it?

Well, dude, since you're about a dozen comments behind, if you want to keep hammering that point, I'd argue that Teach and Roberts and Kidd probably held no such equivocating delusions: they knew what they were doing was wrong, but they were sociopaths so they didn't care.

Really, comparing digital piracy to theft is dubious enough, but now you want to compare digital pirates to actual pirates? Come on. How far do you want to stretch that metaphor?

benbradley
12-25-2011, 09:47 AM
I...
However, with kindle books, here's a bit of fun -- with kindle ebooks, you can view the ebook on 6 different kindles at a time. Any number of kindles can be linked to one account. So, if one person bought the book and linked six different kindles (computers, phones, etc...) and then deleted them off whenever someone else wanted to read it, that's legal, right?

But an infinite amount of people could still read the book, just only six at a time. Why is this more right (I mean, it's from Amazon, so it's legal according to the their "you only own a license to view the book stance") than putting a book up on a forum and getting 10,000 downloads at once?

I mean, what should the limit be on "licenses" to view an ebook that I purchased? And should simultaneous viewing be allowed?
That sounds convoluted, but it's how Amazon has worded their agreements. Authors have assigned publishing rights to Amazon which allows each purchased copy of a work to be read on six Kindles simultaneously. It's in writing (even if it's in legalese in a 100,000 word agreement that one agrees to by clicking a checkbox), the author agreed to it, and that's how the author and Amazon license it. Copyright means the author has the right to determine how it gets copied, including assigning publishing rights to Amazon to do this readable-on-six-Kindles-per-purchased-copy thing. It's not copyright infringement unless a copy is generated that the author didn't agree to.

They grey area / dispute of piracy being theft or not comes from the normal definition of theft as depriving the rightful owner of use of their property. It's an antiquated definition.
The "use of their property" in the case of books or similar intellectual property is setting the price (or conditions) others have to pay to get a copy, or assigning a publisher the right set price and make and sell copies. Piracy takes away that use of their property.

If this idea is antiquated, then a lot of things are going to go to hell, and take a large chunk of the economy with it. If more people weren't willing to go to Amazon or iTunes or similar sites to buy intellectual property in digital form, if most people's first thought is "Oh, there's probably a free copy on the Internet somewhere, I'll find and download it" and they did so, then there will be much bigger problems than authors not selling enough books. Not only will book publishers and music labels go out of business, so will Microsoft and many other companies that exist on the sales of software and other intellectual property.

What's worse is I don't think it's just people being "moral" that stops them from getting the material they want through pirated means. For some they don't know how, and for those who do know how, they're aware of the dangers of viruses and such that often accompany pirated material. People do the right thing because it's practical, not because it's "the right thing to do."

James D. Macdonald
12-25-2011, 11:02 AM
The vast majority of pirates would never have bought your book in the first place...

I invite you over to the "Books & Authors" section of Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/index;_ylt=Anj97Fzhr3WfaP.uhDE4ZlCIxQt.;_ylv=3?sid =396545299&link=list), where a large number of questions are in the form, "Where can I read [name of popular, current, in copyright book] Online for Free?"

Another expense to the author: My next advance depends on my last sales. If my sales are lower because people who love my books get them for free, then I get a lower advance, or perhaps no sale at all.

Information wants to be free. Entertainment wants to be paid for.

Flicka
12-25-2011, 12:53 PM
But whether we consider piracy stealing or not, it's a fact. It happens. No matter how indignant we are, we can't will it away. No matter how much we legislate or prosecute, it's not going away.

From a business standpoint, it makes sense to make sure that content can be had legally easily and in as many formats as possible for a reasonable price. The way to compete with piracy is not to make legal digital access harder. If you look at the music business, I think the moment they realised this and began selling music online was the best thing they ever did - from a business standpoint.

If I decide not to write books because of piracy, that decision has far graver consequences for me than the pirates. To me it definitely sounds like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Whether it's stealing or not, we're going to have to learn to live with it. Personally, I think making buying ebooks easier, not harder, is the best way to continue to make sure that authors (and publishers) get paid. Moral indignation, I fear, will have very little effect. At least that's the conclusion I draw from having watched the music business which has been dealing with piracy a lot longer than publishing. YMMV, naturally.

Captcha
12-25-2011, 01:35 PM
Do you really want me to just repeat what Amadan and Parametric said? I'm posting from a virtual keyboard, so I hope you'll understand why I don't want to repeat arguments that have already been made in this thread.

Parametric said that just because something's illegal doesn't mean that it's immoral. That statement has no bearing on whether or not something is theft. S/he argued that the current state of copyright is not in the best interest of purchasers, which also doesn't mean that piracy isn't theft. Amadan focused on the idea that not every pirated book is a lost sale, and said that because of that, piracy isn't theft. But that argument only works if people are saying that the pirates are stealing money. It doesn't work if I say that they're stealing my intellectual property.

I agree with whomever it was that said that people feel differently about intellectual property theft because the owner doesn't actually lose their copy of the item. But crimes, legally or morally, tend to rightly focus on the actions of the criminal, not the victim. Seeing something offered for sale and then deciding to illegally take it for free is an act of theft, even if the act doesn't totally deprive the owner of the original property.

If you're proposing that we dismantle the entire system of intellectual property, across the board, it's a much wider argument with much more far-reaching consequences. But if you're saying that you believe in intellectual property, in general, but think that the rules shouldn't apply to creative works, then I'd like to hear WHY they shouldn't apply.

Amadan seems to be taking a largely practical approach, so as you're adopting his argument, I assume that is your approach as well. If we can't stop it, we can't call it theft. That makes no sense to me. We can't stop LOTS of crimes, but we can still call them what they are.



No, that sounds pretty good to me. I wish more publishers did the same.

But, as I said, my book is still widely pirated. Not because of anything my publisher or I did to deny people access to the book, just because they don't want to pay us for our work.

As I said earlier in the thread, I think a lot of pirates are cloaking their acts in a shallow philosophical argument, claiming that they're sticking it to The Man and that their piracy is driven by DRM and corporate greed. But my book is published by a small press, and I am hardly raking in the cash myself, and there's no DRM, and they're pirating my book.

Pirates aren't fighting the power. They just don't want to pay for something, so they take it without the owner's permission. I'm not outraged by the act, but I'm impatient with the attempts to justify it or wrap it in a cloak of respectability.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
12-25-2011, 02:05 PM
I don't think her battle can be written of as futile in this context. It seems that the act by the author is a political one, aimed at affecting the law of the country as opposed to directly impacting pirates. Whether the symbolic boycott is "successful" depends on its local leverage. Astrid Lindgren's stance on taxation comes to mind, different in nature as it was. Whether a change in law affects matters is a different topic, but her approach involves more than merely "refusing to play".

It is interesting that she refers to countries that have other laws, in her view, better laws it seems. I'd be curious to see a business model formulated by those who take the stance that piracy is largely due to the dissatisfaction of buyers.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
12-25-2011, 02:31 PM
Never mind.

Amadan
12-25-2011, 06:15 PM
I invite you over to the "Books & Authors" section of Yahoo Answers (http://answers.yahoo.com/dir/index;_ylt=Anj97Fzhr3WfaP.uhDE4ZlCIxQt.;_ylv=3?sid =396545299&link=list), where a large number of questions are in the form, "Where can I read [name of popular, current, in copyright book] Online for Free?"

Yeah, and I see questions like that all the time in online book discussion groups. (FYI: I always tell them to go buy the book and quit being entitled little shits.)

But you have no idea how many of them will give up and go buy the book if they can't find it for free, and I believe that number is very small.


Amadan focused on the idea that not every pirated book is a lost sale, and said that because of that, piracy isn't theft.

That's not exactly what I said. In fact, I don't believe piracy is theft because, well, it's not. It's copyright violation. Still illegal. Not theft.


But that argument only works if people are saying that the pirates are stealing money. It doesn't work if I say that they're stealing my intellectual property.

Theft implies someone else took something that you now no longer have.

Personally, I'd be more inclined to call ebook piracy a kind of fraud.

If you think that's splitting hairs, I disagree, because terms matter. "Piracy = theft" is what causes authors to start trying to count illegal downloads as lost sales.



Amadan seems to be taking a largely practical approach, so as you're adopting his argument, I assume that is your approach as well. If we can't stop it, we can't call it theft. That makes no sense to me. We can't stop LOTS of crimes, but we can still call them what they are.

I didn't say that either. I said you can't stop it, so figure out how to deal with it. Calling it theft and wanting to cut off the hands of pirate downloaders (yes, I am being facetious, I know you did not actually suggest that though I wouldn't be surprised if some morally outraged authors like the idea) isn't a workable solution.

Personally, I think the only workable solution is to rely on the majority of people who are willing to pay, and accept that there will always be certain number of "free riders" in the system. Rather than railing against them, use them. The people who love your work and pirate it? Yeah, it would be nice if they paid you. You can mention that now and then. You can also encourage them to share your work with friends. Some of those friends will come back and buy more of your other works, even if they first found you through a pirated copy. Some. Yes, some will always just pirate you, because some people will always pirate everything and never pay for anything they don't have to. But that's the system.

Bootz
12-25-2011, 06:55 PM
So do pirated copies really equal lost sales? Or do people just like downloading free stuff?

ETA: "Doesn't want to pay $X for product Y" is not the same as "wants free stuff."

This, and the fact that the author makes so little profit, are why e-book piracy is often viewed differently than the theft of a hardcopy item. Also the hardcopy item has to be created, shipped, and displayed and means an actual real loss to people if it is stolen.

I'm not advocating piracy, but the outrage and statistics that some authors and publishers spew just aren't logical.

I think with the lack of hardcopy books that will be printed in the future, fewer sales will be lost, than if printed books were handed around as much as they have been.

I grieve the loss of piles of yellowed paperbacks, that have been available to the poor for the past few decades. I already see fewer paperbacks being donated to certain charities. Sadly instead of being able to resort to piracy, I fear that a certain vulnerable segment of our society will have less access to books. Homeless and hospitalized people read, and most of what they read is yellowed donated discards. This is getting off topic though.

I think that fewer paperbacks being printed, will lead to more purchased books, in the long run. Well...maybe only if there becomes an e-book reader put out for the homeless and poor, like the tracphone and assure cellphones, that give way a few free minutes and then charge exorbitant fees after that.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with e-books. I doubt that many authors will see any reduction in their profits.

buz
12-25-2011, 07:03 PM
Just to clarify/un-clarify things...

From Merriam Webster:

Definition of THEFT

1
a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it

Piracy is not the same as theft. It's a different kind of crime. Not saying it's right, just saying it's different in a nuanced sort of way. It's a crime, it's copyright infringement--it's piracy. No need to call it some other thing.

Also, I think it's a fallacy to generalize about people who download things illegally as if they are a cohesive group with the same motivations, who pirate the same amount, who pirate the same types of media, who have the same beliefs about what they do. They're not. And a single person might not see all piracy as equal...I could pirate a Kanye song and not feel bad about it, but I wouldn't pirate a book.

Indeed, some who pirate will do it because they're assholes who want everything for free. There always have been and always will be assholes in the world who manipulate people, take advantage of the system, and rip people off.

As has been said, some will pirate only things they wouldn't pay for otherwise (like the aforementioned Kanye song). Some will pirate things that are only available for purchase in countries other than their own. Some will pirate things because the price is unaffordable (not an issue in the realm of books, but probably the number one reason for pirated Photoshop). Some will pirate things because they already bought the CD/DVD and it got scratched and it seems stupid to buy another one.

Some will pirate because of a Robin Hood type of sentiment: because this band/director/film production company/actor/record label is rich, and I'm not, it's fine to pirate.

Some will pirate only songs. Some will pirate movies and music but not books. Some will pirate only software. Some will pirate only occasionally; others do it all the time just for the hell of it.

There's also the danger of the uncertain limits of copyright infringement. The often-cited examples of buying a book and then sharing it/re-selling it as used/exchanging it on a swap site, or recording a song off the radio, or creating a digital copy out of a hard copy you own (is this actually illegal? I don't even know), or whathaveyou--these are legitimate questions. If I buy a book and then share it--sure, I've paid for it, but there are then fifteen people who haven't that I've given it to, and that's lost sales. If I record a song off the radio (...the internet radio, now) then I haven't paid for that song. I'm not distributing it or anything, but that's a lost sale. (Except I might not have bought the song in the first place.) Then you get into messes like SOPA and censorship and a restriction of freedoms that could potentially go to dangerous lengths...

Intellectual property is a fuzzy thing because it's intangible and intangible things are hard to defend.

As others have said, I don't think piracy is right, but I don't think the attempts to correct it are intelligent responses. (Certainly "not producing anything to steal" doesn't make sense.) As also has been said, some people are going to do it because some people do shit like that and there isn't a way to enforce it, not without seriously infringing on people's freedoms and privacy. I certainly don't have any bright ideas for a solution other than making the products affordable and widely available--but there will still be piracy. It really might just be better to live with it, rather than bring down the hammer on a minority of assholes via bringing down the hammer on everyone in an indiscriminate manner.

There is always a trade-off between freedom and security. There are definitely costs, but I prefer the scale slightly tipped in favor of the former...just slightly. ;)

Jamesaritchie
12-25-2011, 08:40 PM
I have mixed feelings about this. I know Terry Pratchett has had strong words about book piracy in the past. I support authors' rights. But every time I hear of something industry-driven, like SOPA and the DMCA, I cringe a bit. Because government and industry efforts won't solve the illegal download problem, they'll just widen the legal definition of a criminal.

I sympathize with the Spanish author. But if that is her way of dealing with the problem, it's probably for the best that she gets another job besides writing.

Laws against murder won't stop murder, either, but it's still a good idea to keep the laws on the books.

No law stops crime, but it does punish the criminal. The definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law. Such laws do not widen the definition of a criminal. Theft has always been against the law, and piracy is no more than theft, and the person stealing the book is just another piece of crap thief.

How else do you want her to deal with the problem? Just keep writing, no matter how many lowlife thieves steal her books?

Amadan
12-25-2011, 09:29 PM
How else do you want her to deal with the problem? Just keep writing, no matter how many lowlife thieves steal her books?

Yes. That's exactly what she should do.

From the original article:


"Given that I have today discovered that more illegal copies of my book have been downloaded than I have sold, I am announcing officially that I will not publish another book for a long time," Lucía Etxebarria announced on her Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Luc%C3%ADa-Etxebarria/149885159988) page.



Her latest novel, The Contents of Silence, was published in October and although previous books have been bestsellers, this one is ranked low down the sales list on Amazon's Spanish site.





Notice that nowhere is there a single shred of evidence that piracy is costing her money. She was shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that there are more illegal downloads of her books than sales. Which tells me that she was previously unaware of how the Internet works. And her latest book hasn't done well. So she decided to blame that on piracy, which is more satisfying than just admitting that maybe your latest book just wasn't as good, or didn't sell well for whatever reason.

thebloodfiend
12-25-2011, 09:33 PM
Yeah, that woman is none too smart. If she just put up ebooks again, she'd be back on Amazon's bestselling list. Problem solved. I honestly have no idea why they're charging so much for her books. $26? Increase prices and decrease format options? That's a bad move if you're trying to increase sales. I didn't even attend the majority of my econ classes, and I know that.

kuwisdelu
12-25-2011, 09:42 PM
If you're proposing that we dismantle the entire system of intellectual property, across the board, it's a much wider argument with much more far-reaching consequences. But if you're saying that you believe in intellectual property, in general, but think that the rules shouldn't apply to creative works, then I'd like to hear WHY they shouldn't apply.

I never said that. I said IP law is long overdue for a massive overhaul. Preferably in a way that actually focuses on protecting artists rather than corporations.


Amadan seems to be taking a largely practical approach, so as you're adopting his argument, I assume that is your approach as well. If we can't stop it, we can't call it theft. That makes no sense to me. We can't stop LOTS of crimes, but we can still call them what they are.

I do advocate practical approaches over paranoid hysteria. And you know very well that is not what he said. Stop twisting his words.




But, as I said, my book is still widely pirated. Not because of anything my publisher or I did to deny people access to the book, just because they don't want to pay us for our work.

And? I said since it sounds like they don't have the same BS as the big publishers, I support their going after pirates. Did you want something more from me?


As I said earlier in the thread, I think a lot of pirates are cloaking their acts in a shallow philosophical argument, claiming that they're sticking it to The Man and that their piracy is driven by DRM and corporate greed. But my book is published by a small press, and I am hardly raking in the cash myself, and there's no DRM, and they're pirating my book.

Okay, so the piracy of your books don't fall into that category. That doesn't mean it's not a real reason for many others. Most of the big publishers don't have the same practices.


Pirates aren't fighting the power. They just don't want to pay for something, so they take it without the owner's permission. I'm not outraged by the act, but I'm impatient with the attempts to justify it or wrap it in a cloak of respectability.

No one has argued that ALL pirates pirate for the reasons above. Me and everyone else who has pointed out the rationale for piracy under certain circumstances have readily admitted that there are two kinds of pirates: those who do so for the reasons above, and those who pirate just because they want free stuff.

Please don't make the mistake of confounding wanting free stuff with wanting YOUR stuff without having to pay for it. The vast majority of those pirates did not download your book because they wanted your book but they didn't want to pay for it; they downloaded it because they could, because they could download it for free, and for no other reason.

What I advocate is to turn as many pirates as possible into paying customers using the same methods it sounds like your publisher has already been doing. After that, go after the rest of them however, but don't mistake them for lost sales.

mscelina
12-25-2011, 11:57 PM
I always find it truly terrifying when authors on a writing site publicly aver that they have no problem being stolen from. I tell you what--we'll just send all the pirates/thieves to your books alone, so that authors who need to make money off their intellectual property can actually get paid for it.

If I was in the business of writing for free, I'd post every book for free instead of putting a price on it. Then I could have multiple authors with 'bestselling' status on Amazon and I could brag about how thousands of dollars went into making those free books so popular.

Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. If you guys want to be stolen from, that's fine. Leave your front doors unlocked and the keys in your car with your wallet on the front seat. Because as long as you try to establish a comparative morality when it comes to intellectual property THEFT, you might as well leave the rest of your lives just as open to theft too.

So if I can have your social security numbers and credit card information, I'll get right down to the business of using your money to pay my authors for the books that were stolen from them because authors like you (and yes, that's a SPECIFIC you) don't see a problem with their work being stolen.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 12:14 AM
I always find it truly terrifying when authors on a writing site publicly aver that they have no problem being stolen from. I tell you what--we'll just send all the pirates/thieves to your books alone, so that authors who need to make money off their intellectual property can actually get paid for it.

If I was in the business of writing for free, I'd post every book for free instead of putting a price on it. Then I could have multiple authors with 'bestselling' status on Amazon and I could brag about how thousands of dollars went into making those free books so popular.

Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. If you guys want to be stolen from, that's fine. Leave your front doors unlocked and the keys in your car with your wallet on the front seat. Because as long as you try to establish a comparative morality when it comes to intellectual property THEFT, you might as well leave the rest of your lives just as open to theft too.

So if I can have your social security numbers and credit card information, I'll get right down to the business of using your money to pay my authors for the books that were stolen from them because authors like you (and yes, that's a SPECIFIC you) don't see a problem with their work being stolen.

The degree to which you are arguing with straw men is bordering on outright dishonesty. Since we're being specific.

If you'd like to point out flaws in my arguments, by all means, do so. Angry eruptions of moral outrage and increasingly tortured analogies ain't doin' it.

blacbird
12-26-2011, 12:32 AM
The vast majority of those pirates did not download your book because they wanted your book but they didn't want to pay for it; they downloaded it because they could, because they could download it for free, and for no other reason.

You know this . . . by what means? You distinguish between these two groups . . . how, exactly?

And even if you somehow can, there seems little difference between these reasons: 1) You don't want to pay for it; 2) You can get it for free.

caw

Medievalist
12-26-2011, 12:43 AM
I always find it truly terrifying when authors on a writing site publicly aver that they have no problem being stolen from. I tell you what--we'll just send all the pirates/thieves to your books alone, so that authors who need to make money off their intellectual property can actually get paid for it.

They aren't people who would buy the book in any case. They are, in most cases, like the person who goes to a bar with a barrel of free peanuts in the shell and stuffs their pockets with peanuts on their way out.

Nor, in most cases, do they even read the books.

It's actually more like hoarding behavior than anything else. The hardcore file downloader will download thousands of files—many of them corrupted, incomplete, poorly scanned from .pdf, poorly cracked DRM books that have lost all formatting, duplicate files, and malware. This is actually strikingly different behavior from that of video and music downloaders.

They don't even know what they have. I've had ample time to look at their habits, methods, and meet them face-to-face at judicial boards. I've even helped install web bugs in files for tracking purposes.

They really and truly aren't readers. And I'm not losing any more sales than I do at conventional bookstores when a book is stolen, or sent back stripped from excessive shelfware.

I'm more bothered that they're downloading a screwed up book that has my name on it than any hypothetical loss of income.

Sure, I let my publisher know when I discover a site—that's required by my contracts—but these do not represent lost sales. And I'd rather spend time on retaining repeat readers and attracting new readers than agonizing over those who will never be either.

BenPanced
12-26-2011, 12:45 AM
All of the justification I've seen on this thread is just a rehash of much that has gone down before; it didn't convince me then and it still hasn't convinced me.

jjdebenedictis
12-26-2011, 12:52 AM
You know this . . . by what means? You distinguish between these two groups . . . how, exactly?You can know this by talking to people who pirate a lot of music/games/books/software. They are rational beings; the fact you don't agree with them doesn't mean you can't understand their speech.

For example, there are people who are--I guess you'd call "collectors"--who possess more downloaded music than they can listen to in one lifetime, even on continuous play.

I have no idea why. It's like the digital equivalent of a hoarder. Maybe they think it's for posterity, and indeed, someday some historian may be very glad people like this existed.

However, my personal opinion is most people download stuff they actually want. Unlike the "collectors", they don't just accumulate for the sake of accumulating.

But I also believe that if you somehow locked down the content so they couldn't get it for free, a lot of them would genuinely decline to buy it.

It's like how I click on New York Times articles regularly, but when I hit that paywall, I just close the tab. Yes, I'll read it if it's free, and yes, I honestly believe there's good content there, but I don't quite value it enough to pay for it.

And that's a valid choice; I view my internet reading as something fluffy I do to fill in the corners of my day. If it costed me money, I'd find something else to do.

And if piraters consider the art they steal in the same terms, then it really isn't valid to say "one download = one sale".

For whatever reasons, the piraters don't consider that art worth the price being asked for it. They are not a lost sale.

Edit: And Medievalist zips in before me with most of the same points! :)

jjdebenedictis
12-26-2011, 12:58 AM
All of the justification I've seen on this thread is just a rehash of much that has gone down before; it didn't convince me then and it still hasn't convinced me.I'm not trying to justify anything. As I've said previously, I don't think demonizing piraters has any worth; it's impractical.

If we want to stop piracy, we need to understand the mindset of those doing it so we can engineer solutions that make piracy less attractive than buying the material legally.

The "PUNISH 'EM HARD!" model just doesn't work. We need to be cleverer.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 01:03 AM
All of the justification I've seen on this thread is just a rehash of much that has gone down before; it didn't convince me then and it still hasn't convinced me.


Yup, and all the arguments about Why Piracy Is A Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Bad Thing is just a rehash of much that has gone down before: equally unconvincing.

The difference is that one side has logical arguments based on experience, numbers, and technical knowledge. The other side has... lots of feelings.

blacbird
12-26-2011, 01:54 AM
It would be interesting to see someone defend himself on an internet piracy charge in court, using the arguments seen in this thread.

caw

Amadan
12-26-2011, 02:04 AM
It would be interesting to see someone defend himself on an internet piracy charge in court, using the arguments seen in this thread.


That would be stupid, since no one in this thread has argued that Internet piracy is legal.

Medievalist
12-26-2011, 02:22 AM
That would be stupid, since no one in this thread has argued that Internet piracy is legal.

Exactly.

It's unethical.

It's illegal.

And it's terminally stupid geekery because you don't know where those files have been. It isn't rocket science to embed malicious code in an ebook file.

BenPanced
12-26-2011, 02:44 AM
Yup, and all the arguments about Why Piracy Is A Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Very Bad Thing is just a rehash of much that has gone down before: equally unconvincing.

The difference is that one side has logical arguments based on experience, numbers, and technical knowledge. The other side has... lots of feelings.

And considering I've seen both sides of the argument getting overemotional and letting that overwhelm them? Not much is getting done.

Flicka
12-26-2011, 03:38 AM
I was certainly not defending piracy (and I hope no one implied that I did). It's illegal and it's wrong.

However, I think that the best bet for authors and publishers to get paid is to move beyond what the pirates shouldn't do and think about what they themselves can do to maximise sales, taking into account what people actually do, not what they should do.

The only thing I'm sure of is this: if an author stops writing, it has no effect whatsoever on the lives of the pirates, but it affects the author very, very much. If you're going to quit writing, do it for yourself, not for them or you're giving them power over your life which they don't deserve.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 03:39 AM
And considering I've seen both sides of the argument getting overemotional and letting that overwhelm them? Not much is getting done.


No. Only one side has been getting emotional.

Toothpaste
12-26-2011, 04:32 AM
Amadan - I think that's subjective. Maybe you are not getting emotional (though actually to me your posts have read like someone carefully framing their words so as not to suddenly explode - and I'm sure that's my misinterpretation, just as you are likely misinterpreting some on this thread as well), but some people here are. To me it seems the emotions in this thread are pretty on par, whether it's about the subject matter or just frustrations with fellow AWers.

Also, how exactly does one side have all the facts and the other side not? I thought the biggest crux in this whole debate is that it has yet to be proved whether or not people pirating books are costing authors' sales. I thought that was the biggest argument against people who opposed piracy, that there was no proof that it actually was a bad thing so they should just, you know, chillax.

Except of course if you say something hasn't been proven yet, it doesn't mean it can't be. No one in this thread has actual proof that piracy is harmless, just as they don't have proof piracy causes harm.

I realise people tend to want to see the opposing side of an argument as irrational and emotional because clearly if they don't agree with you they must be at least the former, if not the latter. Still, the fact that you cannot see how emotional things are getting on all sides, and how some on both sides are neatly switching the parameters of their own debate, is kind of odd to me.


As far as the debate goes: while people here have pointed out, and rightly so, that most people downloading free stuff are just doing so because it's free and likely won't even consume the product, enough people on this thread have also demonstrated that there are people who downloaded ebooks because they don't want to pay for them, or find too many hoops to do so. A lot of people use this excuse, and I know a lot of people who do the same for movies. Again, I cannot prove that otherwise these people would have paid for the content, but I think it's likely some would have. What bothers me most though is still that sense of entitlement. Someone up thread said something about people only doing the right thing because it is too risky to do the wrong thing. And that made me sad. Maybe that's how the majority lives, but I know I actually choose very hard to do things because they are right. I don't always succeed, but I think it's important to put personal desires and wants second to doing right.

Maybe that's why I write books for kids. I dunno. But this thread, though very interesting in the discussion of technology and how to use it and not fight it (I actually agree that right now we are not effectively dealing with piracy, and the concept of intellectual property and distribution needs to be revisited and examined from a new perspective - though I don't agree in a free for all either), also makes me sad with the myriad of tired excuses.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 05:16 AM
I thought that was the biggest argument against people who opposed piracy, that there was no proof that it actually was a bad thing so they should just, you know, chillax.

Sigh. If I feel any emotion over this debate, it's exasperation. I do oppose piracy. I have said this multiple times in this thread, and certainly many times in previous threads. Yet the impression I get from the more heated "anti-piracy" side is that it is not sufficient to think e-pirating is wrong and you shouldn't do it, I must spit on them, tread upon them, wipe my feet upon them, and declare them anathema or I am personally responsible for lost sales (according to mscelina), or I am at the very least endorsing piracy.


Except of course if you say something hasn't been proven yet, it doesn't mean it can't be. No one in this thread has actual proof that piracy is harmless, just as they don't have proof piracy causes harm.

This is quite true. I maintain that there is no evidence that piracy causes a net loss in revenue. I have yet to see any publisher or author offer any kind of evidence.

Like a correlation between your book appearing on major piracy sites and falling sales. Like a decrease in sales correlating to an increase in illegal downloads. That wouldn't be proof that piracy had cost you significant sales, but it would at least be some species of evidence. I don't know of any publisher or author who has ever presented such, and you'd think they would if they could point to such an obvious apparent connection. All I have ever seen is an author complaining about the number of illegal downloads and imagining how many of them represent lost sales. Or, as the author in this thread's OP did, assuming that the failure of her latest book is because too many people had downloaded it instead of buying it.



Still, the fact that you cannot see how emotional things are getting on all sides, and how some on both sides are neatly switching the parameters of their own debate, is kind of odd to me.

I honestly haven't seen any of this on "my side" of the debate, at least in this thread, but point it out to me -- maybe I missed it.

I don't know what to tell you about your perception that I'm bottling my anger as I post. It ain't so, but I don't know how I can prove that if my normal posting style comes across to you as barely-contained rage.



Again, I cannot prove that otherwise these people would have paid for the content, but I think it's likely some would have.

No doubt. One of the cruxes of the argument is: of all the illegal downloads of your book, how many would have been sales if the download weren't available? I don't think anyone claims that number is zero. I don't. What I claim is that it's very small, and it is arguable (indeed, likely) that the long-term net effect (which would be even harder to measure and prove) balances out or even works to the author's favor. There are a non-zero number of pirate downloads that represent lost sales, yes, but there are also a non-zero number of pirate downloads that make someone a fan who will actually buy that author's works in the future. Measuring social networking and word-of-mouth effects is something we are still not very good at, but we know it has a powerful effect in many domains.

Until we have some way to measure both effects, it's all speculation and anecdotal evidence, but I think the arguments of -- let's call it the Cory Doctorow side, because it's not exactly "my" side -- are much stronger, and to the degree that any numbers at all are available, that side has them.

Note that all of the above is purely pragmatic, as I have been arguing all along. It does not speak to the legality or morality of ebook piracy. Which I do not endorse. (I have to repeat that now and then, even though I know it will just be ignored again.)


What bothers me most though is still that sense of entitlement. Someone up thread said something about people only doing the right thing because it is too risky to do the wrong thing. And that made me sad. Maybe that's how the majority lives, but I know I actually choose very hard to do things because they are right. I don't always succeed, but I think it's important to put personal desires and wants second to doing right.

Well, I agree with you. And the sense of entitlement is why I usually whack pirates and would-be pirates over the nose when they pop up in places I hang out. I don't approve of them. But here, I'm trying to tell y'all that as understandable as your indignation is, it simply isn't productive. Nor is screaming at me (I don't mean you were screaming at me, Toothpaste) and accusing me of being barely a rung higher than a pirate because I say this.

Alitriona
12-26-2011, 05:33 AM
When I see readers request my book on sharing sites, thank the person who posted it because they've been like, wanting it for everz and then review the book, I'm pretty damn sure I can count that as a potential lost sale, a sale that could have happened if they didn't get it free. It's incredibly disrespectful to me and I feel no desire to look at those who disrespect me with any kind of lenience, regardless of convoluted excuses or 'reasons'. They are thieves and I will call them that. I've had threads removed from sharing sites requesting other members to pirate my books. I'm also pretty sure those who got the first book free will want the second at the same price. They aren't suddenly going to pay because they feel the need to support the author. Obviously every illegal download isn't a lost sale, but as far as I'm concerned one lost sale because of piracy is far too many.

Piracy is theft. It's stealing from me, my editor, my publisher and everyone who worked on my books. Our time, our energy, our work, my creation. It's taking something that belongs to me without my permission.

I understand how anyone would get frustrated seeing fellow writers call it anything less than theft. It shows a lack of respect for the work of other writers and writers should understand how much work goes into creating a book.

Calling it theft is not what makes some authors believe every pirated copy is a lost sale. That's not a reason to stop calling pirating theft. Writers who claim their 10,000 illegal downloads are all lost sales are those who haven't done their research anymore than the guy who thinks he will write a book, stick it on Kindle two days later and drag Oprah out of retirement because that's what happens in self-publishing. It doesn't mean the rest of us should stop calling pirating what is it--theft.

Al Stevens
12-26-2011, 06:14 AM
In the 1990s many of my books were published overseas in counterfeit English language editions. Scanned and photocopied. I know because I'd get compuserve messages (email of yore) from readers requesting tech support--they are computer programming books--and the context of the questions revealed the counterfeits. That's the kind of piracy that frosts my patootie. Piracy for commercial gain.


These are facts (made up by me :) )
There is, so far, no way to prevent sharing of digital files that you distribute to the public. If you want to debate that assertion, let's do it in private. It's boring geek-speak.
People are going to share such files whenever they think they can get away with it. Maybe not all people, but I believe it to be most. The cynic in me. Thus the popularity of bitTorrent et al.
The best way to prevent it (somewhat) is with prices so reasonable that clicking on Amazon is more convenient than downloading and trying to read OCR-generated copy, stripping DRM, whatever.
Is it wrong? Yes, it's wrong. Call it theft, piracy, skullduggery, or whatever suits you. It doesn't change anything.
If you catch the pirates, you can prosecute them, but not likely for any financial gain.
We have no organization such as RIAA to go after the downloaders for us. The best we have is our publishers. I was never able to get them to do anything about it.
Fretting about such perceived losses is a psychic energy sink, a loser of sleep, and a maker of ulcers.
Life is too short to waste fighting battles we can't win.

thebloodfiend
12-26-2011, 06:38 AM
If you're against piracy, you'd do better targeting the people (http://www.filmon.com/cbsyousuck/Complaint.pdf) who made it possible and actually profited off of your ire.

The majority of pirates aren't making any money, but the people who put money into those programs do. And I'm not talking about bittorrent, utorrent, and the file hosting sites. I mean the corporations that are pushing SOPA.

Anyway, an international e-library with a massive amount of funds is something like a pipe dream of mine. I don't ever see it happening though. If a person could check out any ebook they wanted from wherever they are in the world, with just a bit of money coming from their tax dollar, I think that would help. Especially if this kind of knowledge was well known and advertised. That's just one quickly thought up idea.

Toothpaste
12-26-2011, 07:15 AM
Amadan - Fair enough. And I say that not as a dismissal of your response to me, but as me thinking what you have to say is pretty fair :) .

I will say though that I don't think publishers having a lack of numbers showing piracy directly affecting sales proves that therefore sales aren't being affected (as otherwise publishers would of course publicise said numbers extremely loudly), it's a very difficult thing to prove in the first place. You can't have a control group as there is no predicting how many copies of any particular book will sell, nor can you measure people's intentions - at least not equate them with actions. I'm not sure if it will ever be possible to determine as fact that authors are losing out.

Here's what we do know. We know people like Neil Gaiman who have a massive backlog of work have benefited from piracy in that it has introduced new people to his work who then buy subsequent works of his. But as he has also acknowledged, this isn't exactly something that is beneficial for a new author without a backlist. At the same time we know that there have to be some people out there pirating books who otherwise would have bought them. Is it a lot? Again, we don't know.

What I do know is that the choice in any of this is taken away from me the author. And that's my biggest objection. If I want to give my books away for free to help promote my work, then that's my choice. I certainly don't want others making it for me. I certainly don't want others to profit and not me (though, yes, those sites that charge for pirating are few).

I also don't think the current system we have works. I don't think the publishers are thinking outside the box enough, nor the government. But I don't think this means that therefore anything goes until we figure stuff out.

Nexus
12-26-2011, 08:16 AM
This world isn't nice. Nor are many of the people that inhabit it.

There has been theft since the dawn of man. We should never be happy about it; and no one here has indicated that they are.

Many will find it to be despicable. None more-so than those most directly affected (writers, publishers). And I think most here find it despicable.

But take a page from the annals of internet history. The more you crack down on it, the more piracy arises. The video game industry is a perfect example. Games have begun using tokens for download of purchased games. Instead of owning the game you buy, they will allow you to download it 3 times. If you have to reinstall it more than that, then you have nothing but an expensive coaster.

Do you know who that kind of system hurts the most? The honest consumer, who then decides they would not like to purchase future games from that company for that reason (and many more).

But, the pirates still manage to crack and reverse engineer this new video games, and it is available for free download only 5 hours after its release. The game I am talking about is SPORE, but I refer to many games that have done this.

It only ends up hurting the honest people is my point.

Instead of worrying about it, rise above it. Do your part to NEVER justify or boost the pirating industry. You will find that if you make something high quality, you will have plenty of paying customers.

A lot of the people posting in this thread are obviously very intelligent and many of the points made herein are very justifiable. I hardly think my word is law. But when we let it resonate and reflect a little, we can all agree on one thing; our energy is best spent on actively not supporting piracy, rather than arguing amongst ourselves on which degree of hatred we have for it.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 08:58 AM
When I see readers request my book on sharing sites, thank the person who posted it because they've been like, wanting it for everz and then review the book, I'm pretty damn sure I can count that as a potential lost sale, a sale that could have happened if they didn't get it free.

Actually, probably not. If they'd been wanting it forever, they probably would have bought it if they intended to.


I'm also pretty sure those who got the first book free will want the second at the same price. They aren't suddenly going to pay because they feel the need to support the author.

I'll counter your anecdata with my own. I've known plenty of people who freely admit reading pirated ebooks, people who also buy lots of books. Sometimes they did the pirating mostly when they were younger and poorer, sometimes they use pirated ebooks to sample an author's work. So your assumption is incorrect. Yes, there are people who will always pirate and will never pay, but you would never get a dime out of them anyway. Your outrage is wasted.


I understand how anyone would get frustrated seeing fellow writers call it anything less than theft. It shows a lack of respect for the work of other writers

No, it doesn't.


Life is too short to waste fighting battles we can't win.

Yup. All of that. This is pretty much what I've been saying.


I will say though that I don't think publishers having a lack of numbers showing piracy directly affecting sales proves that therefore sales aren't being affected (as otherwise publishers would of course publicise said numbers extremely loudly), it's a very difficult thing to prove in the first place.

Yes, it is, and I'm not claiming the lack of evidence therefore proves the reverse. But it does suggest that the hypothesis (that pirating is responsible for a significant loss of revenue) remains unproven. And in my opinion, what inferences we can make, absent hard data, make a stronger argument against it than for it.


Here's what we do know. We know people like Neil Gaiman who have a massive backlog of work have benefited from piracy in that it has introduced new people to his work who then buy subsequent works of his. But as he has also acknowledged, this isn't exactly something that is beneficial for a new author without a backlist.

Yes, though I'd point out that if assumptions like those Alitriona is making, that pirates never pay, were true, then even big name authors like Neil Gaiman couldn't benefit from piracy. After all, if new readers are introduced to his work via piracy, then why would they start buying it when they can keep getting it for free? The answer is that the categories "pirate" and "book buyer" are not mutually exclusive -- in fact, there is a huge overlap.

New authors without backlists aren't going to benefit the same way, but they do stand to make fans who will look out for their future books. Yes, it sucks that every one of your new fans didn't buy your book, and it sucks even more that a few will happily pirate all of your books without paying for them. But that is the system. You can rage against it, or you can work with it. (Note that by "working with it," I do not mean accept/condone piracy. I mean don't waste time raging against what you can't stop, be more savvy about attracting new fans -- even if it means gritting your teeth with the knowledge that some of them found out about you on Bittorrent -- and especially don't embarrass yourself with crazy rants about how epiracy is why you're not a bestseller.)

General "you," again.

And again, one more time: Not endorsing piracy, mmmkay?

MDSchafer
12-26-2011, 06:51 PM
I spent some time read the this thread today and I feel no one has addressed the big elephant in the room, that there is a generation that is coming up that expects more and more creative content to be available for free.

Look at the music industry. There you have undeniable proof that illegal downloading has destroyed sales. It's hurt both television and movies industries and will eventually damage the bookselling industry.

My 19 year old boyfriend for example has told me that he hasn't bought a single song on his Ipod, downloaded the entire season of Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and the entire Fast and Furious collection and feels no shame about it. Also there's about a gigibyte of porn he's downloaded on an external hard drive.

There is an entire generation that expects all creative product, TV, books, movies, music, porn, comic books, to be available free without out any advertising content. If we allow that attitude to continue we run the risk of novel writing going the way of newspapers. Something that used to be a pretty good career, but now is something you do on the side because no one is will to pay for product they can get free or next to nothing.

Amadan
12-26-2011, 07:20 PM
Look at the music industry. There you have undeniable proof that illegal downloading has destroyed sales. It's hurt both television and movies industries and will eventually damage the bookselling industry.

Er, really? Where is this undeniable proof? 'Cause last I checked, all those industries are doing fine. They have figured out how to monetize a lot of downloading. Look at Netflix and Hulu, for example. They are also facing lots of challenges -- TV shows aren't as profitable as they once were because there are so many channels and so many shows, the audience is far more fragmented, and numbers that once would have gotten a show cancelled are now considered a hit. The film industry has a love/hate relationship with Netflix (though hey, it's better than back in the day when they were claiming that VCRs were the equivalent of the Boston Strangler).

TV and film also now faces stiff competition from increasingly sophisticated and immersive games. Which also manage to make profits despite being pirated even more widely than other forms of media.


My 19 year old boyfriend for example has told me that he hasn't bought a single song on his Ipod, downloaded the entire season of Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and the entire Fast and Furious collection and feels no shame about it. Also there's about a gigibyte of porn he's downloaded on an external hard drive.

Your boyfriend is not a generation. But while he may not ever buy songs, he probably does buy other media.


There is an entire generation that expects all creative product, TV, books, movies, music, porn, comic books, to be available free without out any advertising content. If we allow that attitude to continue we run the risk of novel writing going the way of newspapers. Something that used to be a pretty good career, but now is something you do on the side because no one is will to pay for product they can get free or next to nothing.

Novel writing was never a pretty good career for any but a small number of writers. Newspaper writing has always been a pretty tough business, too. But newspapers aren't being killed by piracy; they're being killed by competition from the Internet. Just like movies and TV shows are facing hard competition for eyeballs and time commitment from MMORPGs and FPSs and the like. It's as much about technological and media change as it is about piracy.

But I am all for correcting selfish, entitled attitudes. Maybe you should start with your boyfriend. Tell him he should pay for that porn.

Medievalist
12-26-2011, 09:23 PM
Look at the music industry. There you have undeniable proof that illegal downloading has destroyed sales. It's hurt both television and movies industries and will eventually damage the bookselling industry.

Apple's last quarterly has iTunes doing 1.4 billion in profit. Profits jumped after the removed DRM from music.

That's just iTunes, never mind all the other pay for play services.

And you need to talk to your nineteen-year-old boyfriend about not paying. Among other things.

AlwaysJuly
12-26-2011, 10:12 PM
This author (and her publisher) is shooting herself in the foot in every possible way. There's no legal e-book version of her book because that would have made it too easy to pirate (and the only print version of her book is ridiculously expensive), but she's quitting writing because... her book has been pirated and she can't make money?

Sorry, but I don't see the business sense anywhere here.

(And, FTR, I'm against piracy and I don't illegally download anything. But failure to adapt to new technology is a failure, even if the technology is being used wrongfully in some respects)

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
12-26-2011, 10:50 PM
Double posted

kuwisdelu
12-26-2011, 11:48 PM
Re: lost sales — I thought my post here was somewhat illustrative, even if it's not ebooks. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6850156&postcount=101)


Look at the music industry. There you have undeniable proof that illegal downloading has destroyed sales. It's hurt both television and movies industries and will eventually damage the bookselling industry.

Actually, both the recording industry (http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2004/09/4156.ars) and the movie industry (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/piracy-once-again-fails-to-get-in-way-of-record-box-office.ars) have been recording record profits in recent years, despite all their claims that they're on the verge of collapse thanks to piracy. I'm sure many other industries would like to be on that kind of "verge of collapse."

benbradley
12-27-2011, 01:38 AM
...
There is an entire generation that expects all creative product, TV, books, movies, music, porn, comic books, to be available free without out any advertising content. If we allow that attitude to continue we run the risk of novel writing going the way of newspapers. Something that used to be a pretty good career, but now is something you do on the side because no one is will to pay for product they can get free or next to nothing.
I'm not sure that it's "an entire generation" but certainly younger people in general have less respect for intellectual property than older people. Whether that lack of respect goes away with age or if many of the current generation of youth will have this for life is an interesting question. But if this continues...

As I indicated in my earlier post, the consequences are even greater than many imagine. Intellectual Property also includes non-entertainment content such as computer software and patents (even though the US patent system is a big mess that only larger companies can successfully game). A large portion of the population not respecting IP will cause a heavy burden on the companies and individuals who produce it as well as those who DO pay for content.

kuwisdelu
12-27-2011, 01:50 AM
I'm not sure that it's "an entire generation" but certainly younger people in general have less respect for intellectual property than older people. Whether that lack of respect goes away with age or if many of the current generation of youth will have this for life is an interesting question. But if this continues...

I'm not sure it's necessarily less respect so much as changing attitudes.

How many from those older generations copied cassette tapes or recorded songs off the radio?

Many of my friends downloaded the leaked version of the last Harry Potter book. They still all went out and bought the hardcover when it came out.

Windcutter
12-27-2011, 03:47 AM
Does anyone happen to have any statistics or other materials (I'm not challenging the point of view and demanding proof--I'm curious about the actual numbers) of the general decline the writers' average income suffered since the beginning of the age of internet and e-texts? I've met some writers who were saying that their income per book dropped radically when compared to, say, early 1990s, though there might have been other factors at play.

I must say digital libraries seem like the death omen for the whole making-money-writing thing to me, unless a completely new financial model will arise. I'm an example of a typical contemporary reader. I prefer ebooks, I read a paper book only if I can't get the book via my Kindle. I rarely reread. I don't need to own many books, especially if we are talking about fiction. As a reader, a consumer, I'd be perfectly happy with a system that involves "renting" a digital copy for some time and then buying a permanent copy only if I feel like I'm going to reread it. Obviously, renting a copy (of anything) is much cheaper than buying a permanent item, and since I rarely reread... as a result, I'd probably buy just a few books per year. Maybe 3 or 5. Doesn't look good for their authors within the current model, right? Now, the same thing takes place within the traditional library system, but e-stuff is much more convenient, so the trend will become much bigger.

MDSchafer
12-27-2011, 04:44 AM
There probably aren't any hard and fast public numbers for illegal downloads hurting book sales, but the numbers are out there. The way torrents are set up its very easy to see what IP address is downloading what, its somewhat illegal to do it, which is probably why the numbers aren't public, but I have no doubt the numbers are out there. For example a good friend of mine, an adult with teenage children, downloaded the entire season of Game of Thrones this year and got written warning from his service provider that if he did not cease this sort of activity they would ban him from their service. So it's traceable, it's just not actionable yet.

But yeah, I firmly believe either this generation graduating high school or the one behind them, or potentially their children, will expect your novels to be available to the free, with no advertising content of any kind just because they want it. It's already happening. I know for a fact there are entire runs of Harry Potter, Wheel of Time and the Hunger Games floating around illegally on the internet. Yeah, some of it is because kids are poor and enjoy getting something for free, but if we let it become the norm all commercial art in this country is dead.

I know people have discounted newspapers, but we already have an entire generation of adults who have never subscribed to a local newspaper in their lives and wouldn't consider doing it. The newspaper subscription percentage in adults age 20 to 30 is less than 10 percent and the average age of a newspaper reader is 55 and a decade ago it was in the low 40s/high 30s.

I expect the same thing to happen with hulu, itunes, Amazon and whatnot. These kids are going to grow up with the tools to download content illegally, and its not like they're going stop doing it when they grow up and get jobs. Why pay for something when you can get it free? Last time I checked free is cheaper than not free. Unless we find a way to stem illegal downloading, in as short as a decade most authors will have more illegal downloads than legal sales.

kuwisdelu
12-27-2011, 04:55 AM
There probably aren't any hard and fast public numbers for illegal downloads hurting book sales, but the numbers are out there. The way torrents are set up its very easy to see what IP address is downloading what, its somewhat illegal to do it, which is probably why the numbers aren't public, but I have no doubt the numbers are out there. For example a good friend of mine, an adult with teenage children, downloaded the entire season of Game of Thrones this year and got written warning from his service provider that if he did not cease this sort of activity they would ban him from their service. So it's traceable, it's just not actionable yet.

It's easy to find numbers for how much something has been downloaded from any particular site. The problem is that there's no way of knowing which of those downloaders would have actually bought your book if they couldn't have downloaded it. It's not very many, though. It's hard to argue that pirates who download books only because they are free are hurting anyone's sales.


I expect the same thing to happen with hulu, itunes, Amazon and whatnot. These kids are going to grow up with the tools to download content illegally, and its not like they're going to do it when they grow up and get jobs. Why pay for something when you can get it free? Last time I checked free is cheaper than not free. Unless we find a way to stem illegal downloading, in as short as a decade most authors will have more illegal downloads than legal sales.

Just about any form of media already has many times more illegal downloads than sales. But as has been pointed out over and over, the vast majority of those can't be considered lost sales.

Yes, free is cheaper than not free, but if we consider only those pirates that can be turned into legitimate customers, I don't think you can discount convenience. Having to deal with DRM and all of the difficulties of "legit" digital copies often isn't as convenient as pirated versions. When you can make the digital version much easier and more convenient than the pirated version (see iTunes) you'll see a decrease in piracy.

mscelina
12-27-2011, 05:07 AM
Real costs? Well, we can look at it logically--if, say for example, an author makes $1.00 per sale of their book and 10,000 copies are illegally downloaded, that's a legitimate loss of $10,000 dollars. Yeah yeah--people who pirate are unlikely to buy yada yada, but that's working from the point of view that people who illegally download books aren't actually reading them.

Because, you know, people like to perform illegal activities without actually benefiting from the act. People who actually think those 10,000 illegal downloads aren't read have no idea what they're talking about.

Or we can look at this:



The Cost to Authors

Lost book sales can't be quantified, making it impossible to calculate the full cost of e-piracy, but the sheer number of illegal copies available for download gives an idea of the scope of the problem. At one file-sharing website, users have uploaded 1,830 copies of three books by a popular young adult author. Just one of those copies has had 4,208 downloads. On the same site, 7,130 copies of the late Michael Crichton's novels have been uploaded, and the first 10 copies have been downloaded 15,174 times.

Even if only a fraction of the downloads from this and dozens of other file-sharing websites represent actual lost sales, they still translate into a staggering amount of royalties that have been stolen from authors.

There's another cost to authors besides lost royalties: time. Many file-sharing websites will remove unauthorized material, but only at the instigation of the copyright holder. Multiple copies require multiple takedown requests. And, even after an illegal copy of an author's work has been removed, the book is often simply reposted by another user.

See full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/i5xdiu

Or this:

http://articles.cnn.com/2010-01-01/tech/ebook.piracy_1_e-books-digital-piracy-publishing-industry?_s=PM:TECH


"It's fair to say that piracy of e-books is exploding," said Albert Greco, an industry expert and professor of marketing at Fordham University.

Sales for digital books in the second quarter of 2009 totaled almost $37 million. That's more than three times the total for the same three months in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Statistics are hard to come by, and many publishers are reluctant to discuss the subject for fear of encouraging more illegal downloads. But digital theft may pose a big headache in 2010 for the slumping publishing industry, which relies increasingly on electronic reading devices and e-books to stimulate sales.

"Piracy is a serious issue for publishers," said Hachette Book Group in a statement. The company that publishes Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular "Twilight" teen-vampire series says it "considers copyright protection to be of paramount importance."


Or this:


According to a 2010 study by Attributor, an antipiracy technology company that works with major publishers, illegal downloads cost the book industry, including educational publishers, $2.8 billion annually. The Motion Picture Association of America, meanwhile, claims that makers of movies, music, software and video games lose $58 billion a year to piracy.

Read more: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20111127/SUB/311279982#ixzz1hgzRVBjJ

But in the end, what advocates of online theft aka piracy really need to be aware of is the following:

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#501


§ 505. Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney's fees

In any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party other than the United States or an officer thereof. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may also award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.

§ 506. Criminal offenses6

(a) Criminal Infringement. —

(1) In general. — Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed —

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

(2) Evidence. — For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement of a copyright.

(3) Definition. — In this subsection, the term “work being prepared for commercial distribution” means —

(A) a computer program, a musical work, a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution —

(i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and

(ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed; or

(B) a motion picture, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution, the motion picture —

(i) has been made available for viewing in a motion picture exhibition facility; and

(ii) has not been made available in copies for sale to the general public in the United States in a format intended to permit viewing outside a motion picture exhibition facility.

(b)(b) Forfeiture, Destruction, and Restitution.—Forfeiture, destruction, and restitution relating to this section shall be subject to section 2323 of title 18, to the extent provided in that section, in addition to any other similar remedies provided by law.

(c) Fraudulent Copyright Notice. — Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(d) Fraudulent Removal of Copyright Notice. — Any person who, with fraudulent intent, removes or alters any notice of copyright appearing on a copy of a copyrighted work shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(e) False Representation. — Any person who knowingly makes a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration provided for by section 409, or in any written statement filed in connection with the application, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(f) Rights of Attribution and Integrity. — Nothing in this section applies to infringement of the rights conferred by section 106A(a).

The rest of the US copyright law on this "victimless" activity that's such a "compliment" to authors whose works have been stolen by thousands of people who aren't doing anything ILLEGAL might be interesting reading too. Just sayin'...

No matter how much you want to CLAIM that e-piracy isn't wrong, the fact remains: it IS ILLEGAL and if you pirate from the wrong author/publisher, you might just find out how well your arguments will hold up in a court of law. I'm not worried about that part of it personally *shrug* because I don't break the law and claim that it's not hurting the pockets of hundreds of people.

Mostly because when YOU pirate, it's MY pockets that are hurt. Am I emotional about this? You're goddamn right I am. Because of authors who continue with this ridiculous idea that e-piracy is a GOOD thing, a whole slew of morons out there think that it must be okay. After all, you are writers--and you're inviting people to steal from you.

Well good. They can steal from you. That's fine. They'd all better stay the hell away from my goddamn books because I firmly believe in pursuing thieves to the fullest extent of the law. And as you can see from the above link, the fullest extent of the law can give people a lot of time to reflect on how worthy their 'victimless' crime really is.

Alitriona
12-27-2011, 05:12 AM
Actually, probably not. If they'd been wanting it forever, they probably would have bought it if they intended to.

So when she said she's so happy to get shared copy because she thought she'd have to wait until her birthday to buy it, can I take that as a lost sale?




No, it doesn't.


What you mean is you don't agree. That's fair enough, but because you disagree doesn't make my opinion wrong and there is nothing on this thread that has convinced me that I am.



Yes, it is, and I'm not claiming the lack of evidence therefore proves the reverse. But it does suggest that the hypothesis (that pirating is responsible for a significant loss of revenue) remains unproven. And in my opinion, what inferences we can make, absent hard data, make a stronger argument against it than for it.

Huh, okay. Again, I disagree. This makes no sense IMO but it's your opinion and I can respect that is how you determine your stance among other things.



Yes, though I'd point out that if assumptions like those Alitriona is making, that pirates never pay, were true, then even big name authors like Neil Gaiman couldn't benefit from piracy. After all, if new readers are introduced to his work via piracy, then why would they start buying it when they can keep getting it for free? The answer is that the categories "pirate" and "book buyer" are not mutually exclusive -- in fact, there is a huge overlap.

Except that giving books away free with permission of his publisher isn't pirating. Comparing it to pirating is an error. It's giving books away with permission of his publisher. If he wants to do that, he can knock himself out, have a party, announce it from the rooftops. It's still not pirating. Likewise if he or any other author wants to condone pirating(I know you don't Amadan) or paint it in some light that absolves the downloader and makes them feel they aren't harming anyone, up to them. I retain the right to believe they are disrespecting their fellow writer and their fellow writer's work.

kuwisdelu
12-27-2011, 05:15 AM
Real costs? Well, we can look at it logically--if, say for example, an author makes $1.00 per sale of their book and 10,000 copies are illegally downloaded, that's a legitimate loss of $10,000 dollars.

Sorry, but all of the evidence refutes that, and if you are still trying to seriously argue from that position, you are deluding yourself, and not doing your side of the debate any favors for it.


Sales for digital books in the second quarter of 2009 totaled almost $37 million. That's more than three times the total for the same three months in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

"We're a growing industry, but we're not growing as fast as we'd like, so we're going to blame the fact we only made 3x as much money than 4x as much money on the boogeyman called piracy, and call that difference a 'loss,' even if it's totally artificial" is the same lame story we've heard from the music and movie industry for years.

Captcha
12-27-2011, 06:29 AM
What IS the argument, right now?

It seems like there's three areas we've been discussing.

Sub-Debate One: legality. I think everyone agrees that piracy is illegal in pretty much every jurisdiction, right? There's been some debate about whether or not the act should be classified as theft, but I think that really falls more into...

Sub-Debate Two:morality. Most of us, I think, agree that piracy is morally wrong, although there's disagreement about just how serious of a moral offense it is. There have been some arguments that piracy isn't wrong if the pirate has a good enough reason to do it, but I don't think we've really reached a consensus as to what that good reason would be. If there's an inconvenient delay, if the product comes with DRM or some other annoyance, or if the product costs more than someone thinks is reasonable... these have been suggested. I don't find any of them compelling, but maybe that's because they weren't really advanced as part of the morality aspect, but were more a part of:

Sub-Debate Three: practical considerations. I think we pretty much all agree that it is hard/impossible to prevent piracy through technology. There have been some arguments that attempts to prevent piracy (DRM, etc.) actually increase it, because people get frustrated. I think we also pretty much all agree that it's stupid to stop publishing altogether as a protest against piracy, although we've seen the suggestion that the author intended her retirement to be a political message rather than a practical solution.

I'm not summarizing because I think you guys can't follow the arguments, but just because I wanted to point out that I think we pretty much all agree on most of this. We agree that piracy is illegal, most of us agree that it's morally wrong, and we agree that it's pretty much impossible to totally stop.

Also, I think it's useful to keep the sub-debates separate so that it's clear who's arguing what. Amadan, for example, seems to be arguing more in the arena of Sub-Debate Three, so it doesn't make sense to offer counter arguments based on the other two Sub-Debates. But it's also not logical for Amadan to offer his/her arguments to counter people who are talking more about Sub-Debate One or Two. Does that make sense?

Sorry if I misrepresented your arguments and/or gender, Amadan.

ETA: I guess Sub-Debate Four is something about how big of a problem piracy is. Some dismiss it as a fact of life, others are outraged by it. And maybe the reasons for being outraged are important as well - is it because of moral concerns (piracy is theft and is wrong, regardless of its impact) or because of practical concerns (piracy is serious because it is costing authors and publishers a lot of money)?

Amadan
12-27-2011, 09:43 AM
Real costs? Well, we can look at it logically--if, say for example, an author makes $1.00 per sale of their book and 10,000 copies are illegally downloaded, that's a legitimate loss of $10,000 dollars.

Stopped reading, right there. If you still haven't clued in to the fallacy of this argument, nothing else you posted is likely to be meaningful.


So when she said she's so happy to get shared copy because she thought she'd have to wait until her birthday to buy it, can I take that as a lost sale?

If she said that, then yes, it's an example of one probable lost sale.


What you mean is you don't agree. That's fair enough, but because you disagree doesn't make my opinion wrong and there is nothing on this thread that has convinced me that I am.

No, what I mean is that you are wrong.

Your statement was:



I understand how anyone would get frustrated seeing fellow writers call it anything less than theft. It shows a lack of respect for the work of other writers

And I'm saying you're wrong, because I know what's inside my head and you don't.

The most you can say is that you feel disrespected.

I am not disrespecting you or your work because I disagree with you about what is or isn't "theft" in the very precise sense that we are discussing it. You can be upset at my opinion and you can disagree with it, but if you're going to claim that holding that opinion is an act of disrespect against you, I'm going to tell you that you are flat-out wrong.


Except that giving books away free with permission of his publisher isn't pirating. Comparing it to pirating is an error.

Gaiman and Doctorow and the other advocates of this model aren't just talking about free giveaways, they are also talking about the free versions distributed on sharing sites. Of course there is a legal difference because Doctorow explicitly grants permission to distribute his books, therefore it's not "pirating" in his case, but the distribution model is identical. The only difference is the legality, which has near-zero impact either way. So no, comparing it to pirating isn't an error. What's in dispute is not whether or not "pirating" is illegal; we all agree that it is. What's in dispute is whether or not authors' revenues are hurt by free sharing of their books. If it does, it will be whether or not that sharing is legal.


Also, I think it's useful to keep the sub-debates separate so that it's clear who's arguing what. Amadan, for example, seems to be arguing more in the arena of Sub-Debate Three, so it doesn't make sense to offer counter arguments based on the other two Sub-Debates. But it's also not logical for Amadan to offer his/her arguments to counter people who are talking more about Sub-Debate One or Two. Does that make sense?

Sorry if I misrepresented your arguments and/or gender, Amadan.

It's "his" and no problem. I think your summary is largely correct.

I'll (re)summarize my opinion as follows:

1. I think piracy is wrong.
2. I think the harm that piracy does is greatly exaggerated.
3. I think there isn't really a lot you can do to stop piracy.
4. I think throwing angry fits at pirates and anyone who will not join you in doing so is counterproductive.
5. I think some of the measures suggested to stop piracy are vastly worse than the problem they are trying to solve. (Just tonight, I got an email from some organization urging me to call my congresscritter in support of SOPA; it was framed as a law that will protect "creators' rights" from "Chinese pirates." If you believe that, you probably believe that 10,000 illegal downloads of your ebook represents 10,000 lost sales.)

blacbird
12-27-2011, 10:09 AM
One of the major problems in this thread is that several issues have become conflated like the threads of a Gordian knot. The initial one was the writer's whine that she wouldn't write any more because her work had been pirated, on which I think there is general agreement that the response was stupid. But other matters have evolved:



1. I think piracy is wrong.

Surficially, there seems here to be little disagreement on this point, yet . . .


2. I think the harm that piracy does is greatly exaggerated.

. . . this certainly remains a debatable issue. It's next to impossible to prove a negative. And the very expression that something is "wrong", but "harmless" is damn ingenuous, at best. It seems very easy for people to escape out the back door on this basis.


3. I think there isn't really a lot you can do to stop piracy.

Via legal enforcement, perhaps. Does that mean it still should be passed off as ethically negligible?

Upthread, we have a comment extolling the virtue of Neil Gaiman for permitting release of his work for free download. I have utterly no objection to this, and very well understand the possibilities involved, and why he did so. BUT, THIS WAS NEIL GAIMAN'S CHOICE. As it should be for every writer. The thief shouldn't be in charge of the decision over what should be stolen.

caw

Medievalist
12-27-2011, 10:15 AM
I'll (re)summarize my opinion as follows:

1. I think piracy is wrong.
2. I think the harm that piracy does is greatly exaggerated.
3. I think there isn't really a lot you can do to stop piracy.
4. I think throwing angry fits at pirates and anyone who will not join you in doing so is counterproductive.
5. I think some of the measures suggested to stop piracy are vastly worse than the problem they are trying to solve. (Just tonight, I got an email from some organization urging me to call my congresscritter in support of SOPA; it was framed as a law that will protect "creators' rights" from "Chinese pirates." If you believe that, you probably believe that 10,000 illegal downloads of your ebook represents 10,000 lost sales.)

I support this stance, in all its particulars.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 10:20 AM
. . . this certainly remains a debatable issue. It's next to impossible to prove a negative. And the very expression that something is "wrong", but "harmless" is damn ingenuous, at best.

It's debatable, which is why I said "I think."

I've presented my reasons for believing so. I have yet to see any fact-based counterarguments. I've even suggested what contrary evidence might look like.

It's damn disingenuous to cherry-pick individual statements to give the appearance of contradiction where there isn't any.

I believe that an individual pirating an ebook (or anything else) is wrong.

I believe that the net effect of ebook piracy is likely not very great.

(Note "Not very great" does not mean "harmless." I don't know whether the economic "harm" is a negative, zero, or positive number.)


Via legal enforcement, perhaps. Does that mean it still should be passed off as ethically negligible?

Has anyone done this?


Upthread, we have a comment extolling the virtue of Neil Gaiman for permitting release of his work for free download. I have utterly no objection to this, and very well understand the possibilities involved, and why he did so. BUT, THIS WAS NEIL GAIMAN'S CHOICE. As it should be for every writer. The thief shouldn't be in charge of the decision over what should be stolen.

Thank you for pointing this out. It's been pointed about approximately seventy times already, but I'm sure a seventy-first repetition will really make it sink in and assume its proper importance in the discussion, ya know? You can never repeat really obvious things in bold-faced capital letters too often.

blacbird
12-27-2011, 10:55 AM
"Not very great" does not mean "harmless." I don't know whether the economic "harm" is a negative, zero, or positive number.)

Pretty much my point.


Has anyone done this?

"Passed off as ethically negligible"? Well, by implication here, perhaps. Not accusing you, but, yes, I've seen this said, directly, many times, in other similar discussions.

As for:

"The thief shouldn't be in charge of the decision over what should be stolen."


Thank you for pointing this out. It's been pointed about approximately seventy times already, but I'm sure a seventy-first repetition will really make it sink in and assume its proper importance in the discussion, ya know? You can never repeat really obvious things in bold-faced capital letters too often.

. . . it seems necessary to point it out, repeatedly, as the comments you have made in this thread repeatedly indicate that 1)you really don't get it, or 2)you don't give a shit. Make your choice clear for us, please.

caw

maxmordon
12-27-2011, 11:20 AM
I have mixed feelings about this.

In one hand, piracy does help to spread around works and to let those really interested to buy it. This issue has been quite delicate in Spain for a while now, and as Alex de la Iglesia pointed in his Goya speech, internet is not the future, it's the now and two decades ago Spanish filmmakers would have only dream to know their movies are distributed worldwide as it is the case now. I live in a small city in South America, and thanks to piracy we talk about movies and books than a decade ago would be impossible to the people here to know, from the latest George R. R. Martin book to Japanese horror movies. Keep in mind that, for example, The Black Swan didn't premiere here until two months after Natalie Portman won her Oscar.

There's also the matter of price, books are quite pricey here. Three times more expensive than in the US (Latest Harry Potter book costs 25 US$ on Amazon and, converted, around 60 US$ here) same deal with CDs. This woman obviously is more interested on making a profit than make herself a name, but again, this is what she does for a living.

On the other hand, one needs to earn money to invest and continue to make works and piracy, even when making a name those otherwise unknown, doesn't give a direct earning. I think a bit of cinema with this: I feel piracy has forced cinema as such to become less independent and we won't see the likes of Kevin Smith or John Waters make themselves a name on the silver screen but on Youtube unless they sell themselves to some independent branch of a multi-mega-media studio to make Transphormers V: Electric Bumblebee or some other formulaic play-safe for the masses while true and independent new artists trying to get resources to go for the extra mile suffer.

And don't come with that of "if they really like it, they will buy it." Nope, they will just download it again, I know that, I am that kind of person. For every DVD or Compact Disc I have bought for an artist I liked it, there at least two dozens artists that I feel are quite good that I simply download their work from some website without giving some thought.

And no, I can't order it because the Venezuelan currency is restricted for overseas transactions and inflation has screwed over us quite deeply. I get 90% of my DVD movies from a place not unlike this:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_SD2I0m8j5CE/TP8PzaxgKQI/AAAAAAAAAFw/_VaQuRQcBIA/s1600/191220075844569.jpg

I don't download them because my wireless internet is slow and not stable and I don't download books because reading from a screen too long hurt my eyes. And we were surprised this year we finally beat the red tape and managed to use the limited dollar quantity the government gives (400 US dollars per citizens yearly for online shopping) and we were dazzled with Amazon.com. The fact you can buy from canned food to rolex watches in a single place.

Then there's the thing about quantity over quality. I have seen Blu-Ray sales here going down, to the point Blu-Rays are selling cheaper than DVDs. Why? Because not many people gives a damn about quality of image, they just want to buy a cheap movie and that's all. I have met a dozen of people who are bothering with Blu-Rays because they truly don't see worth the price and because pirates have gotten used so much to making DVD copies that one asks, why bother with the change? Piracy, you have all these options, if is bad, you just seek something good, if is good, you just continue licking that salt rock or whatever the moose licks.

For example, Game of Thrones. I got a pirate DVD copy. It was obviously downloaded from the internet and a fansub to boot with all and the HBO logo still on it and I passed it around and I made like a dozen people fan of the show, none of them will buy HBO or buy the original DVD set, they will simply go and ask to the street peddler for a good copy rip from the DVD set. Probably from my group of 15 Thronies only one or two will give back money to HBO.

In short, it's a complicated issue without an easy answer. Especially those who cannot afford (financially or otherwise) a way to get the original stuff.

maxmordon
12-27-2011, 11:26 AM
As Colombo said, oh, and another thing.

I suspect this modern modalities shall force artists to have a closer relationship with their audience. Say, Douglas "The Nostalgia Critic" Walker and Ernie Kovacs. Kovacs obviously had far more audience and appreciation but the few fans of The Nostalgia Critic nonetheless are loyal.

This mean the death of The Beatles, Stephen King, Marilyn Monroe, Stephen Spielberg and the such. The artists will satisfy niches or become horribly plastic and bland spectacles as a way to have a place in this far more complex and erratic pop culture.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 05:15 PM
. . . it seems necessary to point it out, repeatedly, as the comments you have made in this thread repeatedly indicate that 1)you really don't get it, or 2)you don't give a shit. Make your choice clear for us, please.

I've made my position glitteringly clear. I think you shouldn't pirate. I also think you shouldn't break the speed limit, jaywalk, smoke pot, deal heroin, or commit murder. But I do not think every wrong thing should be treated equally. I do not muster much moral indignation over piracy, because I doubt piracy really causes much harm. It's wrong, it's illegal, you shouldn't do it. But it's not worth throwing fits over. Until I see evidence that any writer's career has actually been harmed by piracy, I'm not likely to change my position, or my disdainful response to writers who want me to jump on the "Pirates are evil horrible murdering scum of the earth and this is why we need DRM and SOPA" bandwagon.

timewaster
12-27-2011, 05:28 PM
I sympathize with the Spanish author. But if that is her way of dealing with the problem, it's probably for the best that she gets another job besides writing.[/QUOTE]

Why? Because being a good writer is not enough?
Are you suggesting that anyone who wants to make money from three years of hard work in their field of expertise somehow has the wrong end of the stick and needs to get another kind of job?

veinglory
12-27-2011, 06:53 PM
No, the suggestion is that if being pirated is going to bother you that much, writing is a bit of a doomed endeavor. Because it does happens and to some extent is probably always going to happen.

Toothpaste
12-27-2011, 07:17 PM
As the one who brought up Gaiman I thought I should clarify that actually when he was talking about his books being pirated and him benefiting from it, he meant piracy, not his books being given away for free. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qkyt1wXNlI

He doesn't acknowledge in this video that it's far different if you aren't already an established author with a backlist and pre-existing fans, but he has elsewhere.

Whether or not you agree, I just wanted to point out that my using him as a reference was indeed to contribute to this conversation, not one about giving one's books away for free.

(and as someone who is not a fan of piracy, I realise it might be odd for me to link to someone supporting it, but I can't deny when someone makes good points - I think this is an extremely complex issue and quite frankly I have no answers. All I want is to make sure I can earn a living, and that people value the work I do, I also really wish people would stop feeling so darn entitled all the time.)

mscelina
12-27-2011, 07:26 PM
I really love how blithely people in this thread dismiss the financial losses of epiracy despite the fact that I pay out good money for every Musa book. When I see a book that has sold 30 copies but has had over 4000 illegal downloads, that should make me happy right?

What a load of bullshit on all fronts. Total and complete bullshit. But, then again--I'm the one who is paying the cost for those books, so I have no right to complain or be fucking pissed off about thieves. Always good to know.

I feel so much better now.

Thanks for showing me the path to enlightenment. Otherwise I might just continue to be pissed off that I'm investing money in authors' works and not recouping the money I spend on those books. Because I tell you what--and this means the whole "piracy isn't a bad thing" cult: the losses to me, personally, and all the authors I publish as a direct result of slimy scumbags who think pirating is okay is a measurable loss.

*shrug*

So much for my high-falutin' ideas of a world where AUTHORS make the money instead of the click thru ads on torrent sites. Gee whiz...that's what I get for being a Pollyanna. That means I can be educated about the profit margins of a small publisher by people who...don't run one.

Always good to know. Carry on with the financial anarchy, and let me know where I can download YOUR intellectual property for free. because...you know, it doesn't BOTHER you that much.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 07:43 PM
I really love how blithely people in this thread dismiss the financial losses of epiracy despite the fact that I pay out good money for every Musa book. When I see a book that has sold 30 copies but has had over 4000 illegal downloads, that should make me happy right?

I am not blithely dismissing financial losses. I am questioning whether they are real.


What a load of bullshit on all fronts. Total and complete bullshit. But, then again--I'm the one who is paying the cost for those books, so I have no right to complain or be fucking pissed off about thieves. Always good to know.

I feel so much better now.

FYI, I'd be less dismissive if you stopped attacking straw men.


Thanks for showing me the path to enlightenment. Otherwise I might just continue to be pissed off that I'm investing money in authors' works and not recouping the money I spend on those books. Because I tell you what--and this means the whole "piracy isn't a bad thing" cult: the losses to me, personally, and all the authors I publish as a direct result of slimy scumbags who think pirating is okay is a measurable loss.

How do you measure your losses? That's a serious question, I'm not being flippant. I would really like to know how you measure your economic losses from piracy.


Always good to know. Carry on with the financial anarchy, and let me know where I can download YOUR intellectual property for free. because...you know, it doesn't BOTHER you that much.

More straw men. The fact that I think piracy is more complex than you think it is does not mean (a) I am a "financial anarchist," (b) I am a member of a cult, (c) I don't believe authors should be paid for their work, (d) I'm "okay" with people downloading my intellectual property for free.

Wrt (d), I would say that John Scalzi (http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/003538.html) represents my view pretty well. It is neither "Piracy, yay!" nor "Piracy is horrible and evil and costing me money!"

ETA: That link is from 2005. He's written other columns since then, essentially saying the same thing, but I'm too lazy to go digging for more links.

Cyia
12-27-2011, 07:48 PM
(and as someone who is not a fan of piracy, I realise it might be odd for me to link to someone supporting it, but I can't deny when someone makes good points - I think this is an extremely complex issue and quite frankly I have no answers. All I want is to make sure I can earn a living, and that people value the work I do, I also really wish people would stop feeling so darn entitled all the time.)

I don't think having someone find a way to make use of a system that's already in place is support of that system. Gaiman (and the few other authors who have benefited similarly) took control of what they could, which their own response to being pirated, rather than railing against those over whom they had no control.

When you're dealing with sites that are run internationally, that don't adhere to copyright guidelines and have no real threat against them if they don't, you're not going to make an impact going at them head on.

What's been done is a variation of the pirates' own scheme. They divert away from the author, so the author finds a way to take the flow back in their favor. It doesn't make the original act of piracy any less distasteful, but it can create a backend benefit for the authors in question to make up for it.

Toothpaste
12-27-2011, 08:04 PM
Coincidentally just saw this on a friend's Facebook feed. It's a news commentary on evidently a Protect IP Act that people in the States are pushing. Directly relates to this conversation and the problems with dealing with piracy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN9ms7KohYw

veinglory
12-27-2011, 08:18 PM
There is a difference between "dismissing" the issue and choosing to react to it calmly and pragmatically. The fastest way to make no money from books would seem, to me, to be to not write them and not publish them at all--as per OP.

thebloodfiend
12-27-2011, 08:23 PM
Coincidentally just saw this on a friend's Facebook feed. It's a news commentary on evidently a Protect IP Act that people in the States are pushing. Directly relates to this conversation and the problems with dealing with piracy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN9ms7KohYw

You mean you haven't heard about SOPA and Protect IP? The PDF in my last post discusses it and the irony surrounding the companies who're heading the bill.

Toothpaste
12-27-2011, 08:39 PM
I haven't. I'm also Canadian, and I didn't click on every link people posted in the thread. At least not yet :) .

Toothpaste
12-27-2011, 08:40 PM
Uh, my Canadian-ness has nothing to do with my link clicking abilities, just that I don't always know what's going on with regards to laws in the States.

Though who knows, maybe my Canadian-ness DOES have an affect on my link clicking abilities and I just don't know it .. .

thebloodfiend
12-27-2011, 08:52 PM
I click all links. That probably explains why I've been rick-rolled numerous times.


And, just out of curiosity, technically, if you download the script for a movie off of simplyscripts, myPDFscripts, etc... I guess that would be piracy too. Now that's sad. I haven't paid for any of the screenplays I've read because I always thought they were fair game.

Tirjasdyn
12-27-2011, 09:22 PM
Every time I see an argument on piracy, all I can think of is the end of this:


Hey I read this great book! Wanna borrow it?

Don't punish consumers, just don't.

veinglory
12-27-2011, 09:24 PM
Which brings us full circle to the point that pirates of recent, in print books probably aren't 'consumers' in any economic sense due to the ratio of buyers to receivers being so steep.

Rolling Thunder
12-27-2011, 09:29 PM
When does the discussion morph to 'plagiarism is now acceptable because a writer's work no longer presents any value'?

Williebee
12-27-2011, 09:29 PM
I've made my position glitteringly clear. I think you shouldn't pirate. I also think you shouldn't break the speed limit, jaywalk, smoke pot, deal heroin, or commit murder. But I do not think every wrong thing should be treated equally. I do not muster much moral indignation over piracy, because I doubt piracy really causes much harm. It's wrong, it's illegal, you shouldn't do it. But it's not worth throwing fits over. Until I see evidence that any writer's career has actually been harmed by piracy, I'm not likely to change my position, or my disdainful response to writers who want me to jump on the "Pirates are evil horrible murdering scum of the earth and this is why we need DRM and SOPA" bandwagon.

I'm thinking you'd feel different if the money was coming out of your pocket. But more to the point, if the reality, or just the impression of e-piracy causes book publishers to tighten up their risk assessments, it impacts ALL authors.

veinglory
12-27-2011, 09:42 PM
How we feel is not necessarily what should drive what authors should say about the matter publicly.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 10:02 PM
I'm thinking you'd feel different if the money was coming out of your pocket.

As I've mentioned before, I do have royalty-paying works being pirated. Now granted, the royalties are very small, so even if I did make the ridiculous assumption that every single illegal download was a "lost sale," I'd still only be losing... I dunno, maybe a couple hundred dollars a year. But if your entire argument consists of "You've got no skin in the game so shut up," then yes I do, and you'll have to set some minimum dollar value at which my opinion becomes legitimate.

But still, it wouldn't matter even if I were a big-name author with my books being pirated right and left. See my post above re: John Scalzi. He's pretty big, not Stephen King or J.K. Rowing big, but definitely bigger than the vast majority of writers on this forum. Does his opinion count?


But more to the point, if the reality, or just the impression of e-piracy causes book publishers to tighten up their risk assessments, it impacts ALL authors.

Well, yes, which is why I am for encouraging people to make rational risk assessments.

I was at a book convention a while ago, and stopped at a small press booth that had some interesting books for sale. So I asked where I could buy them online.

"Oh, we don't do digital publishing. It's too risky for small presses, because they'll be pirated."

Uh, well, they lost a sale because with rare exceptions, I don't buy physical books any more. And I am sure there are many more people who would buy an ebook online than are going to come to a book convention and buy a book at their booth, or order a physical copy (with attendant shipping costs, which a small press can't eat like Amazon does) on their site. So basically, their fear of piracy means they are losing sales.

Now, their belief -- their "risk assessment" -- is that they would lose more sales than they would gain by making their books available digitally. So let's follow that train of thought. Let's say X number of people would be willing to buy an ebook but aren't going to buy a print book. Let's say Y number of people will buy a print book.

Of Y, there is probably some small percentage p who, if the ebook were available (and thus could be pirated) will pirate it instead of buying it. Call that P = p*Y, for the pirate ratio.

X = digital sales gained.
P = lost sales from piracy. (Note: This is the important point ignored by the "every illegal download is a lost sale" argument. No, it isn't. Your only "lost sales" are actual lost sales -- that is, people who would have paid, but choose not to if the pirate copy is available.) (Note 2: What about p*X? you ask; i.e., the people who wouldn't have bought a print book, but would buy an ebook, but won't if they can pirate it? Well, those can't be "lost sales" if your book isn't available digitally in the first place. They wouldn't have paid either way. So they don't factor into the equation at all. And this is most pirates.)

So, it all boils down to this: is P > X?

If it is, then piracy is a net loss to booksellers. Otherwise, it's not.

(Note that this totally ignores long-term effects: pirates do recommend books to other people, some of whom will buy them, or buy other books by that author, as will some pirates. There are enough authors who have built up sizeable paying fanbases as a result of free booksharing that this isn't some marginal phenomenon, but we can ignore it for now.)

So there are your "hard numbers." How many digital book sales do you have? Do you really believe that there are more people than that who would have bought a physical print copy, but pirated it instead?

I think that's a hard case to make whether you are a small press or Neil Gaiman, but I'd love to hear the evidence.

So, next rational step: how to convert more people in group P to groups X and/or Y?

(Hint: It's not "You're stealing money from me you disgusting piece of shit and I will pursue you to the ends of the Earth and I hope you rot in prison! And also I won't publish digitally so there!")

BunnyMaz
12-27-2011, 10:31 PM
Converting some pirates into buyers isn't all that hard. You just have to make a point of putting paying customers first, instead of penalising them for what they might do.

My mum pirates ebooks because no one told her that her ereader required a wifi internet connection to let her read the books she legitimately purchased. She bought the reader and the books during a visit to the UK, then took the ereader home. She doesn't have a phone line there, let along an internet connection, so that was money down the drain. Instead, she now gets a couple of UK friends to download .pdfs of the books she likes and pop a USB stick in the post. She IS a lost sale. But she wasn't a lost sale because of the existence of piracy. She was a lost sale because of DRM measures that only harmed a legitimate customer. If piracy didn't exist she still wouldn't be buying those books - she'd just hardly ever read anything new.

I have pirated games in the past. I do so because demos no longer exist and £40 (£80 if its a multiplayer game me and the mister want to play together) is a HUGE amount of money for me to risk without knowing if I'll like what I'm paying for. I'm not a lost sale. If I like the game after pirating it, I buy it. If the price is too high, I wait for a sale, but I still buy it. If I really like a developer, I'll buy multiple copies just to support them (hello, Introversion Software, from whom I have purchased around 6 copies of DEFCON, and Darwinia, and whose games I aggressively recommend to EVERY GAMER I KNOW). If I didn't buy the game, it was because I tried it and discovered I didn't like it, or it was a poorly made game released too early, or the developer did something reprehensible and I responded by deleting every game of theirs I have and adding them to my boycott list. If piracy ceased to exist I would buy less games, because I'd very rarely be willing to take the risk of spending money on them. I would stop pirating if I could access legally provided demos of games I am interested in.

Now, my uncle is one of the "bad" sort of pirates. He pirates because he can, because it is convenient, and because he'd rather spend his money on things that really matter to him, like his kids. But he still isn't a lost sale. Because he still supports and pays for works by artists - musicians, game devs, writers, software devs - that he cares about. He supports the ones he thinks matters. He donates to artists and developers who offer their work for free and merely ask for donations in return - like Tarn Adams and Dwarf Fortress, or the OpenOffice project. He even still spends money on media he could pirate, like movies, music and games, that are produced by the big, rich companies. He still goes to the movies. If piracy ceased to exist he wouldn't spend more money than he already does on media. He'd just consume less media.

This is only anecdotal evidence, but I can give you several ways right now to convert pirates into potential sales.

1- avoid restrictive DRM that penalises legitimate customers. Such DRM only creates new pirates.
2- make previews and demos available. In writing terms, I'd suggest getting work published in anthologies, or offering short stories for free, or using the feature on Amazon that lets buyers read a sample.
3- review pricing. Is the price you're asking for really worth the risk of the purchase? Because the purchase of something you can't return - like a digital copy of a book - is gambling. If you're an established name, the risk isn't so high - readers know the quality of your work.
4- make purchasing worth it. Box sets of work with bonus material are more tempting to fans than a single book. Hell, I'm tempted to buy Where's My Cow even though I'll never read it, just to own it. I own three copies of Lord of the Rings - my grandma's own copy, a copy I bought myself and one that came as part of a box-set of Tolkein works bought for me as a gift.

Notice that none of my suggestions include stopping piracy.

Windcutter
12-27-2011, 10:55 PM
By the way, about illegal downloads vs potential sales. Of course, it's not close to any real statistics, but a curious bit of info: a friend of mine has a popular fandom blog and she put up a poll. She asked me to keep her address private so I'll just post the results:
*about 70% admitted they regularly read illegally downloaded books
*about 50% of those who commented said they did it because "most new books today are rubbish, and I hate paying for a book just to discover halfway through that the characters are flat and the plot sucks"
*about 10% said they buy the books they liked a lot after having read them illegally as a thank you to the author
*about 50% said books were too expensive and they found libraries too inconvenient.
*it was often said that people thought they needed to be able to send bad books "back to the kitchen, like you'd do if you found a cockroach in your salad", and most of them considered themselves quite able to judge a book's quality
*as for the people who claim they don't download pirated books, most of those who commented said they simply preferred paper books.
*there was a small percent of people who said they were voracious readers and had really low income so they bought the books by their favorite authors and did illegal downloads when their budget dried up, some of them claimed they read over 50, sometimes close to 100 books per month.

One person offered a rather creative approach: he said publishers needed to offer the first half of a book for free, so then the people who liked it would sure pay for the second half, because only a half of a book was enough to decide whether or not you liked it, one chapter just didn't cut it.

So the general conclusion is: a lot of those people wouldn't buy the books they download simply because they wouldn't be willing to bet on an unknown author. Quite a lot of them feel like they shouldn't have to pay for a book they didn't like, and they treat movies and music the same way.

Windcutter
12-27-2011, 11:10 PM
To answer your question: I am always less sympathetic to people who get angry and irrational and believe that moral indignation is an adequate reason not to apply critical thinking.

I have never seen any evidence that any publisher or author has suffered a net loss of revenue from piracy.
But it's not just a matter of money, is it?
It's a matter of respect for the other person's clearly expressed legitimate wishes.
Author says: I do not want you to read my book for free. Period.
Pirate says: You can *** yourself and the horse you rode in on--I want your book, I take it, so curl up and die.
So an illegal download might not be a legal theft or a loss of a sale, but what it is--it's a middle finger raised into the author's face.
Is it any surprise that the author wants to put his own fist into the pirate's face? I'd say it's a natural response.

BunnyMaz
12-27-2011, 11:19 PM
But it's not just a matter of money, is it?
It's a matter of respect for the other person's clearly expressed legitimate wishes.
Author says: I do not want you to read my book for free. Period.
Pirate says: You can *** yourself and the horse you rode in on--I want your book, I take it, so curl up and die.
So an illegal download might not be a legal theft or a loss of a sale, but what it is--it's a middle finger raised into the author's face.
Is it any surprise that the author wants to put his own fist into the pirate's face? I'd say it's a natural response.

True, but I don't think anyone here is arguing that piracy is okay. Most of the arguments I've seen on this thread that haven't been purely anti-piracy have been concentrated more on the practicalities, on working with and around piracy and on the inevitability of it. And on dealing with the difference between the reality of piracy for most people and the rhetoric promoted by companies fighting against it.

If you could punch a pirate in the face, it wouldn't give you a sale. And it wouldn't make other pirates less likely to pirate from you, or more likely to choose to buy from you legitimately. It might feel good for a moment, but it gains you nothing.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 11:30 PM
But it's not just a matter of money, is it?
It's a matter of respect for the other person's clearly expressed legitimate wishes.
Author says: I do not want you to read my book for free. Period.
Pirate says: You can *** yourself and the horse you rode in on--I want your book, I take it, so curl up and die.
So an illegal download might not be a legal theft or a loss of a sale, but what it is--it's a middle finger raised into the author's face.
Is it any surprise that the author wants to put his own fist into the pirate's face? I'd say it's a natural response.


Yes, it's a natural reaction. It's just not a very productive one, and likely to have about the same effect as lashing back at someone who leaves you a nasty, unfair review.

Captcha
12-27-2011, 11:40 PM
True, but I don't think anyone here is arguing that piracy is okay. Most of the arguments I've seen on this thread that haven't been purely anti-piracy have been concentrated more on the practicalities, on working with and around piracy and on the inevitability of it. And on dealing with the difference between the reality of piracy for most people and the rhetoric promoted by companies fighting against it.


This idea is what prompted my earlier post pointing out that a lot of us are arguing different sub-arguments, because I think some people HAVE argued that piracy is okay (because the books aren't available where they are, or because DRM is too restrictive, or whatever), but these people are not the same people who are responding to other aspects of the argument.

So we end up with group A saying that piracy is inevitable and not that damaging anyway arguing with group B who say that piracy is illegal and wrong, and neither side is convincing the other side because they're not even taking different sides of the same argument.

My reason for getting involved in all this was that I was reading people saying that piracy was not wrong; it was justified by inconvenience. And I disagree with that. I think piracy is morally wrong (apparently 'theft' is too loaded of a word, so I'll avoid it despite wanting to use it). And I think it's important that we keep saying that piracy is wrong because otherwise we all drift into the mindset that it's okay, and then one of the more fundamental barriers to piracy is lost.

That said, I don't really want to argue with those who are saying that it's hard to stop and maybe not all that bad from a practical perspective. That's not my argument.

lucidzfl
12-27-2011, 11:44 PM
I steal EVERYTHING. Books, movies gas and faberge eggs. I do it because I'm entitled to, because of THE MAN!!!!!! Also I punch babies and kick dogs, because, well, they had it coming.

S. Eli
12-27-2011, 11:52 PM
Books I can't afford I go to the library to read, but a lot of the time I can't afford the gas. I'm a little old school, so I just wait until I can (unless it's a text book. I definitely just find those online because the university system tries to get over on you so hard).

And my friend and I are really cheap. So, I don't really ever own books unless it was a gift, or if it was a book that was REALLY important to me (and even then, it takes a while. I still haven't bought The Hunger Games and I read that around the time it first came out). My friend is a gamer, and she gets illegal games all the time. However, if she feels the game is worth it she'll buy it no problem (sometime in the distant future).

Amadan
12-28-2011, 12:02 AM
This idea is what prompted my earlier post pointing out that a lot of us are arguing different sub-arguments, because I think some people HAVE argued that piracy is okay (because the books aren't available where they are, or because DRM is too restrictive, or whatever), but these people are not the same people who are responding to other aspects of the argument.

So we end up with group A saying that piracy is inevitable and not that damaging anyway arguing with group B who say that piracy is illegal and wrong, and neither side is convincing the other side because they're not even taking different sides of the same argument.

My reason for getting involved in all this was that I was reading people saying that piracy was not wrong; it was justified by inconvenience. And I disagree with that. I think piracy is morally wrong (apparently 'theft' is too loaded of a word, so I'll avoid it despite wanting to use it). And I think it's important that we keep saying that piracy is wrong because otherwise we all drift into the mindset that it's okay, and then one of the more fundamental barriers to piracy is lost.

That said, I don't really want to argue with those who are saying that it's hard to stop and maybe not all that bad from a practical perspective. That's not my argument.


Okay, I'll take the bait.

If someone in, say, the Philipines, where a new book printed in Europe or the US may be priced beyond the ability of most of the poor and working class to afford, pirates their favorite author's latest release, I don't think anyone would disagree that it's still morally wrong, for some value of "wrong." It's not like they are stealing bread to survive, after all.

But do you really think "punching them in the face" is an appropriate response? Do you really begrudge an impoverished individual "stealing" an intangible good that they would not otherwise have paid for anyway (and thefore, not actually costing you anything, which the thief stealing bread to survive does)?

Especially since, odds are, a more generous response would mean that someday, when that individual is hopefully less impoverished, they will pay for what they can afford?

Yes, it's still wrong, they should be virtuous and simply abstain from all that is not 100% legal and ethical, etc.

But I refuse to put them in the same category as the rich American college kid who just doesn't feel like paying for what they easily could.

If you want to adopt a moral absolutist stance and say they're exactly the same and they should both do jail time, fine, but I'm not on board with that and I feel no guilt about being "okay" with what is about as close to a victimless crime as it gets.

And this isn't purely a philosophical debate. One of the issues with ebooks -- arising largely as a result of misguided attempts to prevent piracy and IP theft -- is the ridiculous distribution system that can make a new book ridiculously expensive and hard to obtain legally overseas when there is no logical reason why someone in Venezuala or the Philipines shouldn't be able to download an ebook as easily as in the U.S., for a price scaled to the local economy. Since easy and free is always going to beat difficult and expensive, this only encourages people in countries so disadvantaged not to respect IP law or care about "rich" authors passing laws in the US to stop "Chinese pirates."

Captcha
12-28-2011, 12:39 AM
Okay, I'll take the bait.

If someone in, say, the Philipines, where a new book printed in Europe or the US may be priced beyond the ability of most of the poor and working class to afford, pirates their favorite author's latest release, I don't think anyone would disagree that it's still morally wrong, for some value of "wrong." It's not like they are stealing bread to survive, after all.

But do you really think "punching them in the face" is an appropriate response? Do you really begrudge an impoverished individual "stealing" an intangible good that they would not otherwise have paid for anyway (and thefore, not actually costing you anything, which the thief stealing bread to survive does)?

Especially since, odds are, a more generous response would mean that someday, when that individual is hopefully less impoverished, they will pay for what they can afford?

Yes, it's still wrong, they should be virtuous and simply abstain from all that is not 100% legal and ethical, etc.

But I refuse to put them in the same category as the rich American college kid who just doesn't feel like paying for what they easily could.

If you want to adopt a moral absolutist stance and say they're exactly the same and they should both do jail time, fine, but I'm not on board with that and I feel no guilt about being "okay" with what is about as close to a victimless crime as it gets.

And this isn't purely a philosophical debate. One of the issues with ebooks -- arising largely as a result of misguided attempts to prevent piracy and IP theft -- is the ridiculous distribution system that can make a new book ridiculously expensive and hard to obtain legally overseas when there is no logical reason why someone in Venezuala or the Philipines shouldn't be able to download an ebook as easily as in the U.S., for a price scaled to the local economy. Since easy and free is always going to beat difficult and expensive, this only encourages people in countries so disadvantaged not to respect IP law or care about "rich" authors passing laws in the US to stop "Chinese pirates."

Wow, and you're accusing other people of making straw man arguments?

The beginning and end of my argument regarding piracy is that is should be openly acknowledged, by authors and others, as morally wrong. I'm not suggesting any remedies beyond that, not expanding my argument into punches in the face or jail time, and not suggesting the best ways for authors to deal with the new realities of the digital age.

So, I guess maybe my position is too boring for you to even accept that it's my position? I don't know. But for me, the acknowledgment of the moral issue is important. Because, I disagree that "easy and free is always going to beat difficult and expensive", if "easy and free" is also seen as morally wrong and socially unacceptable.

I agree that it's pretty much impossible to protect IP using laws or technology unless we want to be unbelievably draconian and restrictive. And I'm not hearing any other compelling systems for enforcing authorial copyright, other than just giving up and saying that piracy isn't a big deal. So, for me, moral arguments are what we've got.

I think we should be fighting piracy by making it crystal clear that when people pirate a book, they are not sticking it to the man, or are at least not sticking it to the man exclusively. (anyone got any numbers on the piracy of self-pubbed books?). I think we should be saying that piracy is wrong, and explaining why it is wrong to those who don't seem to understand, and continuing to insist that morality not be based on expediency.

That's it. That's the argument I'm making. I don't know where Venezuela or the Philippines come into it...

Amadan
12-28-2011, 12:53 AM
The beginning and end of my argument regarding piracy is that is should be openly acknowledged, by authors and others, as morally wrong.

I believe I did that, quite explicitly.


I'm not suggesting any remedies beyond that, not expanding my argument into punches in the face or jail time, and not suggesting the best ways for authors to deal with the new realities of the digital age.

Okay, I realize I was actually responding to more posts than yours, and it may have seemed like I was attributing everyone's words to you. My mistake, I should have been more clear.


I think we should be fighting piracy by making it crystal clear that when people pirate a book, they are not sticking it to the man, or are at least not sticking it to the man exclusively. (anyone got any numbers on the piracy of self-pubbed books?). I think we should be saying that piracy is wrong, and explaining why it is wrong to those who don't seem to understand, and continuing to insist that morality not be based on expediency.

Going back to the pragmatic argument: I don't think explaining to pirates that it's morally wrong is likely to sway many. It's not like it's just never occurred to them that what they are doing is illegal and (according to others) wrong and if you explain it to them, they'll stop.

I think a PR campaign centered on supporting one's favorite artists, as opposed to guilt and threats and finger-wagging, is likely to be more successful.

jjdebenedictis
12-28-2011, 12:57 AM
But it's not just a matter of money, is it?
It's a matter of respect for the other person's clearly expressed legitimate wishes.
Yes, it would be great if everyone in the world were respectful.

And I would like a pet unicorn.

Do you think either one of us should be holding our breath for that?

The world contains assholes. You will never legislate them out of existence. You only harm the non-assholes by trying to.

I don't understand why there is such resistance to even discussing practical solutions.

veinglory
12-28-2011, 01:02 AM
Quite. Asshole behavior is a fact of life. Screaming at the assholes just makes them happy. Screaming at everyone including the non-assholes is also counter productive.

What you do is find a why to kick the assholes in the balls while no one is looking. It's tricky, but there are ways.

BunnyMaz
12-28-2011, 01:12 AM
Quite. Asshole behavior is a fact of life. Screaming at the assholes just makes them happy. Screaming at everyone including the non-assholes is also counter productive.

What you do is find a why to kick the assholes in the balls while no one is looking. It's tricky, but there are ways.

Like the invincible pink scorpion in Serious Sam. Which also had the advantage of being HILARIOUS.

That said, you can bet a few people will pirate the game just to see it, or to try a speedrun challenge with the scorpion in.

MarkEsq
12-28-2011, 01:14 AM
Going back to the pragmatic argument: I don't think explaining to pirates that it's morally wrong is likely to sway many. It's not like it's just never occurred to them that what they are doing is illegal and (according to others) wrong and if you explain it to them, they'll stop.

I think a PR campaign centered on supporting one's favorite artists, as opposed to guilt and threats and finger-wagging, is likely to be more successful.

You know, Amadan, I've been reading this whole damn thread and I have to say that you've done a lot to change my mind, my way of thinking. I was very much in the "piracy is theft" camp previously, all in favor of making the buggers walk the plank. But I see now the problem is much more complex, or perhaps it's the solution that's more complex. :)

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for remaining calm and rational throughout, and for presenting your arguments in a very coherent and logical way.

One thing, now we're talking about morality, is whether there's a risk to not continuing to see and portray piracy as immoral. In other words, the more we focus on the pragmatism of the situation and the less finger-wagging we do, there's a risk of opening the door to more piracy. (And note that I agree that finger-wagging and screaming etc doesn't deter those currently doing it!) But I worry that if we start to be more accepting (or less disapproving) of piracy then those who would normally be deterred by moral arguments, people who don't pirate now because it's wrong, may start to head that way.

Just a thought. And this is a fascinating thread, so carry on. :)

NicoleJLeBoeuf
12-28-2011, 01:14 AM
You do realize that the very concept of "copyright" was instituted to protect artists, don't you?
Has this been challenged yet? I didn't see anyone addressing this point.

I don't recall where in the world you are, blacbird, but in the U.S., copyright stems from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which states "The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

My understanding (mine! all mine! and it could be wrong!) of how that's interpreted is this:

In the US, copyright was instigated primarily to protect the flow of art and inventions (hereafter "Stuff") into the public domain. Protecting creators is the means to that end: allowing us to make some semblance of a living off our creations acts as both incentive and enablement toward our creating Stuff, which in turn leads to a much richer public domain (when those works do fall into the public domain) than if only the idle rich could afford to spend time creating Stuff -- or Stuff were only created by those patronized by the rich and thus constrained by what is acceptable to the patron.

I love that copyright means I can describe my career as "writer," but I'm under the impression that my ability to fund a career as a writer (or, well, my attempt to do so -- I'm still working on it) is the means, not the end, intended by US Copyright Law. The end goal is that I contribute to the public domain, and find it worth my while to keep contributing.

(Any arguments stemming from the premise that artists should create art for love alone and/or out of pure righteous animal need and thus the true artist needs no monetary incentives to continue creating... will be ignored for the myopic nonsense it is. Love and need and muse-inspired fervor are all well and good, but not dying a gutter of starvation, cold, and preventable disease sure does help.)

Now, this is separate from the discussion about whether current U.S. Copyright Law fulfills the purpose of ensuring an evergreen public domain. I would argue that it does not, and that, as Medievalist says, we ought to go back to a system of artist's life plus 70 (or some similar number of years agreed to be sufficient to give artists the same ability as other craftspersons to leave a good-but-limited legacy to their family/next-of-kin).

As an aspiring career author who is currently published only this (holds thumb and forefingertips together so you can barely see light between them) much, I am currently in the "meh" camp on piracy. I consider that the set of all digital content pirates contains a subset of potential customers, and that the trend towards piracy can be seen much like the trend of a bunch of technology users coming up with novel off-label ways to use said technology -- it indicates a need (or at least a very strong desire) that isn't been met and could be met to the benefit both to creators and to potential customers.

Ask me again when I'm published enough to actually see my stuff pirated. It's easy to be "meh" about a problem when one isn't personally affected by the problem, a point often missed by those who play the game of "Least emotional arguer wins the argument."

Captcha
12-28-2011, 01:16 AM
I believe I did that, quite explicitly. I agree, you did. That, again, is the point I was trying to make about there being a lot of different arguments going on in this thread, and how people are responding to people arguing in one sub-argument with rebuttals to a whole different sub-argument. It's getting pretty confused.



Going back to the pragmatic argument: I don't think explaining to pirates that it's morally wrong is likely to sway many. It's not like it's just never occurred to them that what they are doing is illegal and (according to others) wrong and if you explain it to them, they'll stop.

I think a PR campaign centered on supporting one's favorite artists, as opposed to guilt and threats and finger-wagging, is likely to be more successful.

I don't think that saying something is wrong automatically equates to "guilt and threats and finger-wagging". I'm thinking of the anti-drunk driving campaign, for example. There was a time when people drove drunk, and it was accepted. It was funny. This is within my lifetime, and while I'm not a pup, I'm not ancient, either. Then society got serious about it. We made it clear that it's not only illegal, but also morally wrong (and incredibly stupid). There are still some idiots who drink and drive, just like I expect there will always be some assholes who pirate other people's work. But the overall societal attitude changed, and drinking and driving has decreased.

So, sure, we should have campaigns that appeal to the "don't cheat the artist" idea, just like the "avoid the mourning after" campaigns or whatever they had in your region for drunk driving. But we should also, as a society, refuse to accept pirating (or drunk driving) as a silly little thing that people do because it's a nuisance to wait for the book to be legally available (or to wait for a cab on a busy night at the bar). I agree that the hardcore pirates won't be affected by this anymore than hardcore drunk drivers were affected by the anti-drunk driving shift. But the people in the middle, the ones who are thinking about maybe pirating something, will be discouraged by societal attitudes, and I think it's an important tool for us to use.

MarkEsq
12-28-2011, 01:27 AM
I don't think that saying something is wrong automatically equates to "guilt and threats and finger-wagging". I'm thinking of the anti-drunk driving campaign, for example. There was a time when people drove drunk, and it was accepted. It was funny. This is within my lifetime, and while I'm not a pup, I'm not ancient, either. Then society got serious about it. We made it clear that it's not only illegal, but also morally wrong (and incredibly stupid). There are still some idiots who drink and drive, just like I expect there will always be some assholes who pirate other people's work. But the overall societal attitude changed, and drinking and driving has decreased.

So, sure, we should have campaigns that appeal to the "don't cheat the artist" idea, just like the "avoid the mourning after" campaigns or whatever they had in your region for drunk driving. But we should also, as a society, refuse to accept pirating (or drunk driving) as a silly little thing that people do because it's a nuisance to wait for the book to be legally available (or to wait for a cab on a busy night at the bar). I agree that the hardcore pirates won't be affected by this anymore than hardcore drunk drivers were affected by the anti-drunk driving shift. But the people in the middle, the ones who are thinking about maybe pirating something, will be discouraged by societal attitudes, and I think it's an important tool for us to use.

Yeah, see, that's what I was trying to say. :)

Amadan
12-28-2011, 01:44 AM
But we should also, as a society, refuse to accept pirating (or drunk driving) as a silly little thing that people do because it's a nuisance to wait for the book to be legally available (or to wait for a cab on a busy night at the bar). I agree that the hardcore pirates won't be affected by this anymore than hardcore drunk drivers were affected by the anti-drunk driving shift. But the people in the middle, the ones who are thinking about maybe pirating something, will be discouraged by societal attitudes, and I think it's an important tool for us to use.


One thing, now we're talking about morality, is whether there's a risk to not continuing to see and portray piracy as immoral. In other words, the more we focus on the pragmatism of the situation and the less finger-wagging we do, there's a risk of opening the door to more piracy. (And note that I agree that finger-wagging and screaming etc doesn't deter those currently doing it!) But I worry that if we start to be more accepting (or less disapproving) of piracy then those who would normally be deterred by moral arguments, people who don't pirate now because it's wrong, may start to head that way.


I don't mind finger-wagging where appropriate. I have also mentioned, in this thread, that in other comms where I participate, I've been known to jump down the throats of people who post asking for "good sharing sites" or pirate copies of ebooks.

I am all for adopting a tone of disapproval and not accepting it as perfectly fine and cool. I think teaching kids early, as they start to use the Internet, that yes, you can get all this stuff for free but there are reasons why you shouldn't, is a good idea. (I just worry it will take on the tones of the anti-drug campaigns that have proven so unsuccessful, like "If you ever smoke one joint ever you will suffer permanent brain damage and never ever hold a job and become a depraved homeless crack addict!!!" Which is about the level of hyperbole I see some anti-piracy activists using.)

I'm just saying the raw fury and absolute, black-and-white approach isn't productive, and frankly, trying to play whack-a-mole with pirate sites is probably a waste of time and energy.

Attacking people who are not pirates but don't exhibit a sufficient degree of outrage over piracy is also not productive.

Sophia
12-28-2011, 02:04 AM
Attacking people who are not pirates but don't exhibit a sufficient degree of outrage over piracy is also not productive.

True. I'm wondering if it might be because we're on a writers' site, and people can feel that if there's anywhere they can let their normal professional attitude relax a little, it's here. :) I think if I was published and had my work pirated, and I felt angry about it, I'd feel both bolstered and encouraged if the response to my confessional rant was, "Yeah, let's punch 'em! :D But on a serious note, [insert logical arguments and explorations of possible ways forward, here]".

benbradley
12-28-2011, 05:30 AM
Has this been challenged yet? I didn't see anyone addressing this point.

I don't recall where in the world you are, blacbird, but in the U.S., copyright stems from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which states "The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
...
Now, this is separate from the discussion about whether current U.S. Copyright Law fulfills the purpose of ensuring an evergreen public domain. I would argue that it does not, and that, as Medievalist says, we ought to go back to a system of artist's life plus 70 (or some similar number of years agreed to be sufficient to give artists the same ability as other craftspersons to leave a good-but-limited legacy to their family/next-of-kin).
Actually, even the life-plus-70-years thing from however many decades ago was greatly enhanced versus copyright laws from over a century ago. The last paragraph on this page tells of the life of songwriter Stephen Foster in an era where copyright seemed virtually nonexistent compared with modern laws:

http://www.pitt.edu/~amerimus/Fosterbiography.html (http://www.pitt.edu/%7Eamerimus/Fosterbiography.html)

(A personal note, I recall being in second grade and the teacher having us sing Foster's "Oh, Susana!" just a few years decades back. Surely just about everyone has heard one or more of his songs.)

I vaguely recall hearing (and I could be wrong) that Foster's life story was part of the inspiration for stronger US copyright laws after his death, but i didn't find any evidence of that. Here's an article on copyright law history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copyright_law

Even if Foster's life didn't actually inspire stronger copyright laws, it's an example of someone who wrote some very popular (even in his own time) material, but saw very few fruits of his labors.

Snitchcat
12-28-2011, 05:42 AM
Attacking people who are not pirates but don't exhibit a sufficient degree of outrage over piracy is also not productive.

Agreed.

Really, though, the issue of piracy goes back to two sides, IMO: 1) those who pirate because they can, and (2) those who pirate because they have been left two choices and have chosen the lesser of two evils. (Not speculating what the other evil is.)

The point is, piracy will always be around in some form or another. And to clamp down further through law and enforcement, just means that more piracy will surface. It's that reverse psychology thing that's built in: order someone not to do it, and they'll do it just because they can. Give the same individual the freedom to choose (assuming said individual is actually a responsible member of society), then they would probably choose to do the right thing, i.e., pay for the goods at a reasonable price.

And while piracy is the same all over the world, the way the laws for each region are worded and operate, are different. So, while US copyright law applies in the US and in whatever books are printed in the country, it does not necessarily apply elsewhere in the world. In fact, each country that has a copyright law, has its own version. This extends to those countries upholding this law using its own way of dealing with piracy.

Captcha
12-28-2011, 06:08 AM
Agreed.

Really, though, the issue of piracy goes back to two sides, IMO: 1) those who pirate because they can, and (2) those who pirate because they have been left two choices and have chosen the lesser of two evils. (Not speculating what the other evil is.)

The point is, piracy will always be around in some form or another. And to clamp down further through law and enforcement, just means that more piracy will surface. It's that reverse psychology thing that's built in: order someone not to do it, and they'll do it just because they can. Give the same individual the freedom to choose (assuming said individual is actually a responsible member of society), then they would probably choose to do the right thing, i.e., pay for the goods at a reasonable price.

I don't understand this argument. Having laws against things makes it more likely that people will do these things? Doesn't that mean that we should have no laws against anything? Or that we should only have laws against things that we actually want people to do? Like, no laws except that we should make it illegal to give to charity? I know, that's a ridiculous extreme, but the argument really doesn't make sense to me.


And while piracy is the same all over the world, the way the laws for each region are worded and operate, are different. So, while US copyright law applies in the US and in whatever books are printed in the country, it does not necessarily apply elsewhere in the world. In fact, each country that has a copyright law, has its own version. This extends to those countries upholding this law using its own way of dealing with piracy.

Well, this isn't entirely accurate. There are international agreements (The Berne Convention, etc.) Also, as many of us are about to find out (if the American insanity with SOPA goes through), the US laws have a huge impact on the world, given how much of the internet is US-based.

kuwisdelu
12-28-2011, 06:45 AM
I don't understand this argument. Having laws against things makes it more likely that people will do these things? Doesn't that mean that we should have no laws against anything? Or that we should only have laws against things that we actually want people to do? Like, no laws except that we should make it illegal to give to charity? I know, that's a ridiculous extreme, but the argument really doesn't make sense to me.

I don't think the point was necessarily about the laws themselves, but the reactions of the content creators and the corporations.

Say I pirate your novel for some reason, and I really like your novel. The reason could be DRM, or formatting problems in the e-version (and I only want the e-version), or it's not available in the store my e-reader uses. Maybe it's even it's just because I couldn't afford it.

Let's consider two author responses:

1. "I see my books is getting pirated a lot. I recognize there may be some problems or inconveniences with the ebook version, and I wish my publisher offered ____ or did something about ____, but I don't really have any control over that aspect of the publication. But if you pirate, I don't get any money to help me write my next book, so please, even if you disagree with certain things — and I do too — please buy it anyway, or I'll never get compensated for it."

2. "Damn dirty pirates are just entitled bastards stealing from my pockets! Sure there's some crap in the system, but the customer should have to put up with whatever bullshit they have to, because pirating is illegal and wrong and you're taking money straight from my wallet every time you do it! I will go after the evil thieves who are trying to ruin me and prosecute them to the full extent of the law and make sure they don't have any money to buy any of my books in the future even if they wanted to."

I don't know about you, but pragmatically, I think #1 would be far more effective than #2, which would just piss off those pirates who were considering buying your book and assure that they don't.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 08:29 AM
I read a lot of discussion about what's right and what's wrong, what's unstoppable, and such. Lots of problem, not much solution.



Some solutions aimed at reducing piracy:
Make it more difficult
Make it easier to detect
Make it not worth the risk
Make it unnecessary
Like the weather. Everybody talks about it... Some of the solutions involve technical techniques, and maybe you won't hear much of that kicked around in a writers' forum. But let's look at it.
Considering that the problem is digital, scanning and ocr notwithstanding, to make it more difficult to copy means using a medium other than an open-architecture digital format. DRM was an attempt to do that. Too easy to crack, though. Encryption works only when the cipher is understood only by the sender and receiver and when the receiver can be trusted.
Better means of detection has sinister overtones. Big Brother watching your downloads and monitoring your content. I am sure there are MP3s on my computer for which I have no proof of purchase or even remember where I got them.
Raising the risk requires laws that can and will be enforced with stiffer penalties. SOPA is an attempt to do that. A start. Improve on it.
Priced properly, books won't be pirated nearly as much. Make them affordable and convenient to buy. Make them reasonable. When the online music services made current albums available one tune at a time, I have read (and cannot provide a citation, so don't ask) that the piracy of albums decreased significantly.
At least we could start discussing progressive solutions to a problem that will never be solved merely by defining and disagreeing about the problem's inherent morality.

I fear that in the long run, the only workable solution will turn out to be the one least acceptable to our culture. From each according to his ability...

There is little that is new. I remember the "music should be free" movement in the sixties. That discussion is still going on. I remember Bill Gates's "open letter to hobbyists" in the 1970s. He didn't step down like the subject of this thread did.

kuwisdelu
12-28-2011, 08:42 AM
Note that #4 is the only one that actually benefits legitimate customers rather than treating them as criminals.

Smiling Ted
12-28-2011, 09:02 AM
The point is, piracy will always be around in some form or another. And to clamp down further through law and enforcement, just means that more piracy will surface. It's that reverse psychology thing that's built in: order someone not to do it, and they'll do it just because they can.

Absolutely. Look how the murder rates soared after we outlawed homicide.

lucidzfl
12-28-2011, 09:54 AM
Absolutely. Look how the murder rates soared after we outlawed homicide.

Crime is actually down. Maybe people can't afford bullets and yelling bang takes too long.

blacbird
12-28-2011, 10:16 AM
I don't recall where in the world you are, blacbird, but in the U.S., copyright stems from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which states "The Congress shall have Power ... To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

My understanding (mine! all mine! and it could be wrong!) of how that's interpreted is this:

In the US, copyright was instigated primarily to protect the flow of art and inventions (hereafter "Stuff") into the public domain. Protecting creators is the means to that end: allowing us to make some semblance of a living off our creations acts as both incentive and enablement toward our creating Stuff, which in turn leads to a much richer public domain (when those works do fall into the public domain) than if only the idle rich could afford to spend time creating Stuff -- or Stuff were only created by those patronized by the rich and thus constrained by what is acceptable to the patron.

I love that copyright means I can describe my career as "writer," but I'm under the impression that my ability to fund a career as a writer (or, well, my attempt to do so -- I'm still working on it) is the means, not the end, intended by US Copyright Law. The end goal is that I contribute to the public domain, and find it worth my while to keep contributing.

I'm not exactly certain of your point here, but as the response is directed, by name, to moi, I'll respond as best I can. First, yes, I live in the U.S. If Alaska can still be defined as part of that.

Second, this thread isn't about the specific provisions of U.S. copyright statutes, that I can see. I'm not about to defend those, as they currently stand. The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act of 1998 was a travesty, intended specifically for the protection of the Disney empire, and having virtually no value to individual writers and artists.

Third, standard copyright statutes fail to address the new universe of electronic media, and that most certainly needs to be addressed. Don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

The "concept" of copyright is rather different, and was most certainly intended in its original invention to protect the interests of artists. It should revert to that status, but the big publishing and entertainment corporations aren't even remotely interested in that happening. That's a discussion for another thread.

As for intending your work to enrich the public domain, you have entirely the voluntary means to do that. I certainly won't object. As I understand it, Ayn Rand voluntarily released her short novel Anthem into public domain.

What you don't have is the ethical right to force other writers/artists to do that. And that's my main objection against the Jesuitry expressed here in at least semi-justification of piracy.

caw

Amadan
12-28-2011, 05:22 PM
What you don't have is the ethical right to force other writers/artists to do that. And that's my main objection against the Jesuitry expressed here in at least semi-justification of piracy.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be offended at being called a Jesuit, but I'm certainly offended at the dishonesty.

Captcha
12-28-2011, 05:37 PM
I read a lot of discussion about what's right and what's wrong, what's unstoppable, and such. Lots of problem, not much solution.

Some solutions aimed at reducing piracy:

Make it more difficult
Make it easier to detect
Make it not worth the risk
Make it unnecessary

5. Make it socially unacceptable by helping people to understand that it is morally wrong and hurts writers/artists.

I know I'm just repeating myself, but it's a bit discouraging to see people assuming that moral arguments have no impact on people. I think that, done right, the threat of social censure can be an incredibly important tool. Those of us who are insisting that piracy be treated as a moral issue aren't just doing it for esoteric reasons.

Framing piracy as morally wrong is the least intrusive, and, I feel, most potentially successful strategy we've got.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 06:31 PM
Note that #4 is the only one that actually benefits legitimate customers rather than treating them as criminals.And is the only one that cannot and need not be circumvented by criminals and people.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 06:42 PM
5. Make it socially unacceptable by helping people to understand that it is morally wrong and hurts writers/artists.
I think most people already know that it is wrong. Enough of them do not care.

Amadan
12-28-2011, 06:48 PM
I think most people already know that it is wrong. Enough of them do not care.

Actually, a lot of younger people really don't think it's wrong. In one of the previous iterations of this debate, we had some twenty-something college student burbling about how downloading was normal for her generation and should she not be able to enjoy something just because she can't afford it? I mean, while she knew it was technically illegal, it just honestly seemed never to have occurred to her that there was anything wrong with not paying for things, and she was quite hurt that folks did not respond kindly to her.

So yeah, education would help. I am just wary that it will be of the moralizing sort that makes people tune out all those anti-drug ads. No one likes have a finger wagged in their face or being lectured by people who are actually kind of clueless about what they are opposing, they just know it's VERY VERY WRONG, DAMMIT! There are effective and ineffective ways of conveying the message that writers deserve to be paid.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 07:24 PM
Actually, a lot of younger people really don't think it's wrong.
What percentage is "a lot?"

I mean, while she knew it was technically illegal, it just honestly seemed never to have occurred to her that there was anything wrong with not paying for things, and she was quite hurt that folks did not respond kindly to her.
Do you suggest that she was typical?

There are effective and ineffective ways of conveying the message that writers deserve to be paid.The subject of this thread chose to eliminate piracy of her work by withholding the booty. That is one of the effective ways.

Amadan
12-28-2011, 07:30 PM
What percentage is "a lot?"

Do you suggest that she was typical?

Probably. I haven't done a survey, but it seems pretty common. Are you suggesting it's not typical?


The subject of this thread chose to eliminate piracy of her work by withholding the booty. That is one of the effective ways.

Well, effective in the same way that pushing your car off a cliff will prevent it from being stolen.

Captcha
12-28-2011, 07:36 PM
What percentage is "a lot?"


Al, we've had people on this thread who, while not outright saying they think piracy is morally fine, have argued that it is justified by any number of things. Most of the justifications struck me, at least, as trivial.

And we're on a writers' site, where, one would think, there would be a pretty powerful bias toward protecting copyright. So, while I don't have a precise number, I think it's probably significant.

Amadan
12-28-2011, 07:44 PM
Al, we've had people on this thread who, while not outright saying they think piracy is morally fine, have argued that it is justified by any number of things. Most of the justifications struck me, at least, as trivial.


You're being disingenuous too. You may not agree with any of the defenses offered here, but nobody in this thread has taken the position that piracy is okay and you shouldn't have to pay for stuff.

If you think all arguments to the left of "Piracy is wrongbadevil period!" are uniformly monochromatic, trivial, and wrong, fine, but to me that shows a lack of nuance or even willingness to engage with the argument.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 08:04 PM
Are you suggesting it's not typical?I did precisely that when I said:

I think most people already know that it is wrong.
And you kind of did too when you said:

she knew it was technically illegal
Well, effective in the same way that pushing your car off a cliff will prevent it from being stolen.I usually drop out when the car analogies start. :)

thebloodfiend
12-28-2011, 08:04 PM
Do you suggest that she was typical?


Typical of my age group? No. A some of them are so stupid, they don't even know how to download bittorrent. Hoards of teens are not going out to pirate your books.

But, yeah, that was me. I'm not a twenty-something. I'm a seventeen-year-old college student.

The only reason I pirate, and continue to do so, is because I'm unable to return the products I buy. Amazon is the only ebook seller that allows you to return ebooks, and they have a set limit before they close your account.

If I stop reading a book halfway through, I don't want to keep it on my computer. Same with video games. I do feel entitled to quality entertainment.

If we're going to treat piracy like stealing, and equate intangible items with tangible items, then a decent return policy needs to be instated. I can return coffee to Starbucks (and get multiple free drinks, as well as an apology letter), practically any item to Amazon, half-eaten watermelons to Walmart, but, for whatever reason, returning video games and ebooks is a no go.

Anyway, I spend quite a bit on books and the like. I don't really feel like any of these arguments against piracy are compelling me to stop pirating. I will buy what I like until things are set up for the consumer. It's as simple as that.


@Captcha: How about this for a morality add?


Would you steal from your dying grandmother?
Would you kick a baby?
Then why would you pirate books off the internet? It's just as bad as walking into a starving writer's house, eating their food, taking their ARC copies, and shitting on their carpet.
Piracy -- it's evil.Morality plays wouldn't work for me because I'm already supporting artists I like. I have no intention to support the other. Why would you support an artist that you don't care for? I have a lot of books. Most of them are paid for, some of them are public domain, and only a few I haven't finished. The ones I haven't finished are the ones I pirated. They'll probably get deleted because they aren't worth my time. As evidenced by many of my previous mispurchases, you can't judge a book on it's entertainment value by just one chapter.

My suggestion -- make e-books more available at libraries. They're already being pirated. Just get more library funding. Or, better yet, set up something like interlibrary loan which uses Worldcat. Universities already do it for academic papers.

ETA: I know piracy illegal (whether I think it's immoral is for another time as legality/=/morality), but until things are shifted so that I know where my money is going every time I shell it out, I will continue to do it.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 08:07 PM
Al, we've had people on this thread who, while not outright saying they think piracy is morally fine, have argued that it is justified by any number of things. I interpret their arguments as saying that it is understandable and forgiveable. I disagree with the latter.

Captcha
12-28-2011, 08:12 PM
You're being disingenuous too. You may not agree with any of the defenses offered here, but nobody in this thread has taken the position that piracy is okay and you shouldn't have to pay for stuff.

If you think all arguments to the left of "Piracy is wrongbadevil period!" are uniformly monochromatic, trivial, and wrong, fine, but to me that shows a lack of nuance or even willingness to engage with the argument.

I don't know how to multiquote, but from:

Post 15:
"Piracy seems like one of those problems where the solution is to stop thinking about it as a problem.

Or rather, to see piracy as the solution to a problem, and engineer a better solution so no one feels the need to turn to piracy."

Post 22:
"End result--anybody who wants her novel in electronic form is FORCED to swipe a PDF version because THEY CAN'T PAY MONEY FOR IT EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO."

Post 25:
"Understand that piracy is a solution to otherwise-unobtainable goods, or withheld goods because the publisher or whatever company, is trying to milk the customer for all they have."

Post 54:
"Setting aside entitlement issues, this is flat-out unfair. Due to the accident of your birth, you're a paying the same amount of money--you're even willing to pay more money--but you're getting second class service.

Please note that a sense of justice is one of the things social animals are hard-wired to feel; justice is necessary for society to exist."

Post 67:

"I don't share the usual logic that piracy = theft = wrong. Piracy is copyright infringement. That's illegal, which is not the same as wrong."

etc. (that's the first three pages covered, and I don't think kuwisdelu had even chimed in yet).

Most of these posts had a disclaimer about how, sure, piracy is wrong, but if the rest of the post is an elaborate justification of why piracy is actually right, then the disclaimer is pretty ineffective.

So, as I said in the post you objected to, these people, while not outright saying that piracy is fine, have argued that it is justified. I think that if you're saying something is justified, you're saying that it's not wrong. My argument is that...

nope, wait. I've made my argument as clearly as I can, many times. I don't think I have a new way to express it. I'm out.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 08:23 PM
The only reason I pirate, and continue to do so, is because I'm unable to return the products I buy.
If your intent is to passively resist and peacefully demonstrate actively against what you perceive to be an unjust law, then I could almost forgive your piracy. But that doesn't seem to be what you are doing.

I say "almost" because I come from a generation of activists whose agenda was a bit loftier than the price of a book.

Well, not quite:

http://www.amazon.com/Steal-this-Book-Abbie-Hoffman/dp/B0011W971Y/ref=sr_1_3

Amadan
12-28-2011, 08:24 PM
So, as I said in the post you objected to, these people, while not outright saying that piracy is fine, have argued that it is justified. I think that if you're saying something is justified, you're saying that it's not wrong.


No.

I think stealing is wrong. I think stealing a loaf of bread because you're starving is justified. It's still wrong. Maybe the baker won't be able to feed his children because you stole his bread. So, still wrong. But justifiable.

The world is not black and white.

(ObDisclaimer no of course ebook pirating is not the same as stealing a loaf of bread because you're starving.)

thebloodfiend
12-28-2011, 08:35 PM
If your intent is to passively resist and peacefully demonstrate actively against what you perceive to be an unjust law, then I could almost forgive your piracy. But that doesn't seem to be what you are doing.

I say "almost" because I come from a generation of activists whose agenda was a bit loftier than the price of a book.

Well, not quite:

http://www.amazon.com/Steal-this-Book-Abbie-Hoffman/dp/B0011W971Y/ref=sr_1_3

I read that a few years back. Very... interesting.


But, no, you're right. I'm not demonstrating actively against an unjust law. I don't think the law is unjust at all, but I don't think piracy is wrong. Nor do I think it's right. It's a temporary solution for me. I think the way corporations license their books is unjust, and should be changed. I also think their return policies are unfair. That's about it. I'd buy everything if I knew I could return it, but being prevented from doing so makes me choose to pirate. I'm not forced to pirate anything. It is my choice, and my choice alone.

virtue_summer
12-28-2011, 08:41 PM
If I stop reading a book halfway through, I don't want to keep it on my computer. Same with video games. I do feel entitled to quality entertainment.

Why?


Morality plays wouldn't work for me because I'm already supporting artists I like. I have no intention to support the other. Why would you support an artist that you don't care for?

Personally I'd support an artist I don't personally care for because they're still an artist and if I decide to take their work I owe them for it. It's that simple. This whole, "I should be able to read the book and then decide if I liked it and then decide to pay or not" argument seems strange to me. Whether you decide in the end you liked it or not, you still read their work which wasn't supposed to be free. Questions:

Do you ask for refunds on movie tickets after watching the movie and deciding it was a dud?

Do you go to concerts and halfway through demand your money back because you've decided the band is bad?

Calla Lily
12-28-2011, 08:41 PM
Choosing to reply rather than keep my mouth shut:

thebloodfiend, when you have an e-book published you will eagerly wait for your first statement, hoping for royalties or at the least to earn out your advance.

If neither happens, yet dozens of your friends have said they read and loved your book, ask them: Did you buy it or pirate it? If they say "pirated" and give your reasons above, come back to this thread and let us know about your feelings of entitlement then.


Angry Lily is angry.

Jcomp
12-28-2011, 08:46 PM
This whole, "I should be able to read the book and then decide if I liked it and then decide to pay or not" argument seems strange to me.

I don't necessarily find that strange... but I do think it's weird that people resort to piracy for such a thing instead of, you know, a gotdamn library. Not applicable for e-books, I know, but plenty of books come in both e- and that other old school format with the letters on the paper and the ink and whatnot...

Snitchcat
12-28-2011, 09:06 PM
Most of these posts had a disclaimer about how, sure, piracy is wrong, but if the rest of the post is an elaborate justification of why piracy is actually right, then the disclaimer is pretty ineffective.

So, as I said in the post you objected to, these people, while not outright saying that piracy is fine, have argued that it is justified. I think that if you're saying something is justified, you're saying that it's not wrong. My argument is that...

In other words, because people can and do entertain POVs that are not immediately and obviously in line with certain views of right and wrong, etc., those people are automatically wrong? Or should be dismissed?

Piracy has a lot of angles, and there are different solutions to this problem. It's not as clear cut as ideal.

Al Stevens
12-28-2011, 09:06 PM
...but I don't think piracy is wrong. Nor do I think it's right. It's a temporary solution for me. The problem you are solving does not justify the solution.

I think the way corporations license their books is unjust, and should be changed. I also think their return policies are unfair. That's about it.
Someone suggested that we educate the new generation about the moral implications of e-book piracy. I don't think the effort works, and your persistence is helping me to prove it. (Except that I'm hoping your persistence is not typical.)

When I was seventeen, the only way to get all the books I wanted was to visit the Library of Congress. I lived within a twenty-five cent bus ride, so I spent a lot of my summer days in the main reading room. The average citizen can't do that now. Shows you how things have gone to hell.

Snitchcat
12-28-2011, 09:07 PM
a gotdamn library.

For the sake of argument, a library in the States? :)

thebloodfiend
12-28-2011, 09:18 PM
Why?

When I'm paying for something, I want to get a certain value out of it. That's the exchange I'm making. When I pay $10.00 for your ebook, I'm paying for a certain amount of entertainment. When I don't finish your ebook because, while the first chapter was engaging, the rest was a dud, I'd like to have the option to return it without Amazon putting me on one of their lists.


Personally I'd support an artist I don't personally care for because they're still an artist and if I decide to take their work I owe them for it. Well, that's where you and I have to disagree as I don't see it as taking anything. I owe them what they give to me.

And, as previously stated, if I didn't enjoy the work, I stop before the half way point. For me, nothing was taken because nothing was received.


It's that simple. This whole, "I should be able to read the book and then decide if I liked it and then decide to pay or not" argument seems strange to me. Whether you decide in the end you liked it or not, you still read their work which wasn't supposed to be free. As I said before, if I was able to return the books, I wouldn't pirate. Simple as that. But, as it stands, I don't finish half the books I do pirate and I do buy the rest.



Questions: Do you ask for refunds on movie tickets after watching the movie and deciding it was a dud? No. I go to the dollar show.


Do you go to concerts and halfway through demand your money back because you've decided the band is bad?I don't go to concerts.

Your tone suggests that I decide I like something based on if I want to pay the amount of money I'm expected to give. Eh, no. I don't decide to like something. I either like something, or I don't like something. There's no decision. And, based on that, I pay. If I'm not enjoying a book, I don't finish it.


Choosing to reply rather than keep my mouth shut:

thebloodfiend, when you have an e-book published you will eagerly wait for your first statement, hoping for royalties or at the least to earn out your advance.[QUOTE]

I bet I will.
[QUOTE]
If neither happens, yet dozens of your friends have said they read and loved your book, ask them: Did you buy it or pirate it? If they say "pirated" and give your reasons above, come back to this thread and let us know about your feelings of entitlement then.Ah, this again. I have had my art sold with my permission. I've had my art distributed without my name attached. And, no, I wouldn't care if my friends pirated my books. I understand that other authors do.

I have no problem with authors being upset about piracy. My problem is not with them. If they see it as disrespectful, so be it. That's their right. If I find their work entertaining, I will support them.

My problem is with companies that don't allow me to return books. That's it.


I don't necessarily find that strange... but I do think it's weird that people resort to piracy for such a thing instead of, you know, a gotdamn library. Not applicable for e-books, I know, but plenty of books come in both e- and that other old school format with the letters on the paper and the ink and whatnot...

I use the library all the time. They don't even have Kevin Canty books. Their online collection is even more pathetic.

But with most of the books I pirated, I did so when I didn't live in America. No libraries, or libraries with books in English. And I didn't have an address to ship books to. Which is why I resorted to only purchasing ebooks after I pirated a copy to preview them. I'm not trying to justify myself. I'm offering an explanation so that you can see why I do it. I don't speak for anyone else.

Whenever a piracy thread like this comes up, there are always these funny little examples that, I suppose, are meant to make pirates feel bad. They don't. I like discussing solutions to this problem, and writing lengthy guilt trips while expressing your moral outrage do nothing.

Which I why I'll repeat this:


My suggestion -- make e-books more available at libraries. They're already being pirated. Just get more library funding. Or, better yet, set up something like interlibrary loan which uses Worldcat. Universities already do it for academic papers.

kuwisdelu
12-28-2011, 09:23 PM
The "concept" of copyright is rather different, and was most certainly intended in its original invention to protect the interests of artists. It should revert to that status, but the big publishing and entertainment corporations aren't even remotely interested in that happening. That's a discussion for another thread.

I would disagree. The flaws in IP law are wrapped up intimately with the inadequate systems of delivery that content providers implement that help drive piracy and the highly disproportional responses they take that further fuel resentment against them.


5. Make it socially unacceptable by helping people to understand that it is morally wrong and hurts writers/artists.

I know I'm just repeating myself, but it's a bit discouraging to see people assuming that moral arguments have no impact on people. I think that, done right, the threat of social censure can be an incredibly important tool. Those of us who are insisting that piracy be treated as a moral issue aren't just doing it for esoteric reasons.

Framing piracy as morally wrong is the least intrusive, and, I feel, most potentially successful strategy we've got.

There are two problems with that.

First of all, as pointed out, no one is going to respond to having a moralistic finger wagging at them telling them how evil they are being. It just doesn't work, and I don't see how anyone can believe it ever will.

Second of all, the corporations that implement these campaigns do not exactly have the moral high ground when they treat their legitimate customers like criminals (again, see DRM).

See the two hypothetical author responses I posted above. Do you really think #2 would be more effective?


I Most of these posts had a disclaimer about how, sure, piracy is wrong, but if the rest of the post is an elaborate justification of why piracy is actually right, then the disclaimer is pretty ineffective.

So, as I said in the post you objected to, these people, while not outright saying that piracy is fine, have argued that it is justified. I think that if you're saying something is justified, you're saying that it's not wrong. My argument is that...

Pointing out the reasons and justifications for something is not the same as arguing as something is morally right. What strikes me as ludicrous in these threads is why the people who are most outraged by piracy are so quick to dismiss these reasons. These should be the people most interested in stopping piracy, right? Then they should be the most interested in learning WHY people pirate, rather than burying their heads in the sand and dismissing any reasons but those that reinforce their own view of piracy. How the hell do you propose to stop it without understanding why people do it? It's asinine.

thebloodfiend
12-28-2011, 09:29 PM
The problem you are solving does not justify the solution.

That is your opinion. I have mine.



Someone suggested that we educate the new generation about the moral implications of e-book piracy. I don't think the effort works, and your persistence is helping me to prove it. (Except that I'm hoping your persistence is not typical.)

Oh, I've had plenty of education on the moral implications of e-book piracy. Most of it amounts to authors on their websites saying that they haven't made the NYT bestselling list because of piracy, or that piracy is akin to stealing from someone's home, or that the author won't be able to write anymore if people continue to pirate their work.


When I was seventeen, the only way to get all the books I wanted was to visit the Library of Congress. I lived within a twenty-five cent bus ride, so I spent a lot of my summer days in the main reading room. The average citizen can't do that now. Shows you how things have gone to hell.

The nearest library is my University library. But, as I live in America now, I don't pirate books anymore unless my library doesn't have them. Video games are something else, and I still purchase them if I enjoy them. Living in a foreign country, with no library and very limited purchasing options with no address, is a completely different scenario.

Stew21
12-28-2011, 09:35 PM
TBF,
While it's fun to watch you try to justify your theft with flimsy arguments about your entitlement to entertainment, this thread seems to be going nowhere good, and going there fast.

Just going to put a temp-lock on it til room mods can figure out what they'd like to do.

Stew21
12-28-2011, 10:01 PM
To clarify:

No one is getting warnings, or told to settle down. No one is in trouble. This is a lock for review. I haven't told anyone they are misbehaving, but it seems that feathers are getting mighty fluffed up over this and a break for mod review (when the room mods are available) is all this amounts to. It staying locked isn't up to me; it being reopened isn't either. I just thought i'd stop it while it was manageable.