Thursday, March 01, 2007

Book Piracy

Liz Wolfe sent me an email yesterday, bringing eSnips to my attention.  Thank you!  Here are her excellent thoughts on the matter of book piracy.

People have set up folders sharing different things: music, complete novels, and other random stuff.  I suppose it was going to happen sooner or later to the book industry.  After all, it happened/happens with music, with movies ... why not books?

Okay, confession time.  I went to the site, appalled.  I totally don't believe in piracy of any kind.

First, I couldn't find any books.  After some searching, I found tons of them.  And then I saw a book by Gena Showalter.

My first thought was, "Oh! I've always wanted to try reading one of her books!"

And then I thought I'd see if they really were pirating complete books, and not just excerpts.  So I clicked on her book, downloaded it, and tried to open it.  Just to see, I swear!

I didn't have the correct program, which is just as well. 

If I had, I think I might have read a little of the book.  Ack! 

Is it that easy to steal in our society?  I didn't mean to!  Well, I didn't, but I would have, and if I had, when would I have realized what I was doing and stopped? 

I would have stopped, because I'm a big copyright freak.  I love composers.  I love authors.  I love artists.  They are cataloging our history and our society in a very special way that will speak to generations to come, in a way the history books won't.

The pirates claim that since they bought the book, they can share it as they will.  How different is that from a library, really?  No, really, think about it.  One copy is paid for, hundreds of people read it.

Then there's the camp that cries "Copyright! Copyright!"  Yes, an author/artist/musician should be paid for their work.  I completely, 100% agree.

There's the "What can you do?" camp, that says if you offer the eBooks, then good, decent people will buy them.  The others, they say ... well, there's not much you can do about it.  Napster and iTunes have certainly proven this theory correct.  People "steal" free music all the time, and yet Napster and iTunes are a huge success for both themselves and the music industry.

My student's parents are often resistant to buying music.  I once kicked out a student (technically the parent, not the student) because I made a copy of a Christmas piece, so that her mom wouldn't have to pay shipping twice that year.  I figured she could order the piece in the spring when her daughter would need several other books.  When spring came, this mother didn't want to order the Christmas piece because her daughter had "already learned it." 

If it had been a financial difficulty, I'd have understood.  But it wasn't.  A four dollar book is nothing when a kid is wearing a hundred dollar outfit.  She used the music; she should pay for it!  And her daughter even performed the piece.   It's illegal!!!

The simple fact is, if an author/artist/musician/composer isn't paid for his/her work, then they will not produce.  Best case scenario, they will not produce as much.  Or they will produce and not share. 

This is not a good thing.

In the end, however, I suspect the pirates will find authors a few fans that will buy the books, the copyright criers will keep authors fed and sheltered, the shrugging camp will find new ways for authors to get paid, and everything will balance out.

I have to believe that's the case, because what else can I do?

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2 bonus scribbles:

Rob Brooks 3/02/2007 01:59:00 PM  

"One copy is paid for, hundreds of people read it."

Holy crap! Sounds like a library or something!

I'm just kidding, the copyright problems are a big deal. However, I don't believe that the music industry's slumping sales are due to illegal downloading, as they claim--I think it's due more to the fact that music is awful these days and everyone is afraid to buy a bad CD and waste ten bucks. Still illegal downloading is illegal (hence the name). It's pretty simple to go to Itunes and buy a song, and not incredibly expensive. If it's a song you like and will listen to, what's the big deal about paying $1?

I would like to think that most people would be like me--that if they like a book, they'll buy it. Right now, I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road, from the library, and I already have every intention of buying it when I get a chance. Great book. But then, I'm kind of weird. I like to have things. I might never read it again, I just like to have it.

spyscribbler 3/02/2007 10:47:00 PM  

Completely, Rob. I think most people are honorable and will do the right thing.

But then, maybe the slumping sales are due to illegal downloading. Kids these days and all ... *grins* No, seriously, I don't think they actually feel stuff like this is wrong, because all their friends do it. And aren't teens the major buyers of music?

I don't know anything, just speculating.