Thursday, March 6, 2014

Illegal downloads are fine because...

___ authors understand that their real problem is obscurity, not the piracy of their books.

___ authors want, most of all, to share their work with as many people as possible.

___ some authors don’t mind illegal downloads at all.

___ some authors report increased sales as a result of the book being made free to anyone who wants it.

___ someone who illegally downloads a book and enjoys it will be sure to pay for the sequel, which will be published even if sales of the first book are low thanks to illegal downloads. So because of piracy, the author has gained a honest fan… somehow.

___ e-books can be expensive. If you consider things expensive, it’s acceptable to take them without paying for them.

___ only publishers are financially affected by piracy, and they’re all big corporations which can afford the loss. They probably use it as a tax writeoff anyway.

___ it’s not like you’re taking a physical copy, or something which can’t be replaced.

___ if you wouldn’t pay for the book under any circumstances, the author has no grounds for complaint because he wouldn’t have been paid under any circumstances, so you might as well go ahead and download it.

___ it’s like borrowing a book from a friend. The only difference is that with unauthorized file sharing, you get to have your own free copy. But otherwise, it’s just like sharing a book. Sharing is good.

___ people need to read the book for free to know if they want to spend money on it, and libraries aren’t an option here, for some reason.

___ people should have what they want, when they want it.

___ people are going to do it no matter what anyone says or does, so authors might as well accept it.

I've seen all these used in favor of illegal downloading, but this article by agent Rachelle Gardner is a good summary of what authors can do about it. Most of the time, I try not to think about my work being stolen. Today, though, I noticed a thread about the topic on Absolute Write and decided to list the reasons why.

But this is my single reason why not. I spent a great deal of time and effort on my books. I think I deserve to get paid for that. Unless it's by my choice, I don't think I deserve to have them downloaded without my getting any compensation at all.

And that goes for all authors, everywhere.


Maria Zannini said...

Well said. I wouldn't take a stick of gum, let alone a book.

Property, virtual or otherwise still belongs to someone.

Hap said...

Hm. Honestly I have not heard much about the illegal download of ebooks. I've heard a lot about people wanting to tear off the DRM so they can put it on multiple devices, but they've still already paid for the book.

The one big case of illegal ebook downloading I've heard has to do with textbooks. There are may college students who cannot afford the expense of textbooks and professors will nudge students towards using them for supplemental materials. Yes people who write textbooks deserve to be paid for it but who the money should come from is a valid question. It's the same with giant databases like Josten's.

However, for a book that's meant to be entertainment, that's a very different matter. The fact that entertainment is so much cheaper than knowledge in the US is pretty messed up, IMHO.

Marian Perera said...

A thread on the Absolute Write forums was started by someone who'd just discovered her books being made available for free download on a certain website. Other writers who responded said they'd found their books too.

I plugged my name in and what do you know.

Textbooks are expensive, agreed. I was a college student too - graduated in 2012. But I still don't believe the cost of those books justifies illegal downloading.

Kami said...

I'm with Marian re: textbooks. Students have to pay for their education, and that includes buying the textbooks. It's part of the education budget. I'm not sure how professors 'nudge' students toward buying textbooks. That's sort of like professors nudging students to buy paper, pens, pencils, calculators, the clothes they wear to class, the food they eat while at university, paying dorm fees .... Education is expensive ≠ it's okay to steal to get an education. In fact, folks who do have missed an important part of their education.

Marian Perera said...

That last line sums it up, Kami.

I worked two part-time jobs during the last year I was in college, to help cover my expenses. If I still hadn't been able to afford the recommended (not required) books, I could have tried buying them second-hand, splitting the cost with a friend so we both owned the book, or using the library's copies.

gypsyscarlett said...

I wonder if these same people would work free at their job and just be grateful if their boss or patrons decided to pay them for it.

They can try to rationalize it til the Norse hell warms up. They're thieves.

Marian Perera said...

Tasha - I doubt people who do this regularly have enough empathy with authors to imagine themselves in the same situation.

I've never seen any pirating-defenders even acknowledge that what they're doing is taking the products of writers' hard work and making those a free-for-all whether the writers want that or not.