First, check out this moronic video from some group called questioncopyright.org. It runs only a minute, though it seems longer.
This has helped me understand the file-stealing crowd. I thought they were sociopaths or merely morally bankrupt. But this video makes it clear that they suffer from an incapacity for critical thinking, and these lines from the song (written by someone named Nina Paley) make the case:
If I steal your bicycle, you’ll have to take the bus.
But if I just copy it, there’s one for each of us.
Copy a bicycle? You mean like, scan it? Or download it? If you copy my bike, you’ll have to work. And even before you copy the bike, you’ll have to learn: how to weld, how to use tools. And then (get the smelling salts ready) you’ll have to buy (what a concept) the metal tubing and tires and gears and spend time assembling them maybe even thinking about how to arrange the gears. You might have to sweat, you might get your hands dirty.
And you know what? In the end, you will have created something where there was nothing before. It won’t be a copy. It will be yours. Then maybe all the clones with all their stolen discs and books at the end of the video won’t look so cute.
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That’s why copying is fuuuuuuun!
Yeah. Tons o’ fun when what’s being copied is the result of someone else’s sweat and the source of their livelihood.
If you need a succinct refresher on what copyright is and isn’t, go here.
Every time I bring this up I hear, “Look at the Grateful Dead – they let people record them live and share the tapes and it only increased attendance at their shows.”
Apples and oranges. The Dead’s revenues came from their tours, not their records. Those so-called bootlegs (they can’t be real bootlegs if they’re sanctioned) advertised their concerts, which were not free. You had to pay to see the Dead live. (That was not intentional. Okay, maybe a little.)
An author’s published work, on the other hand, is his concert. Giving away a free excerpt might draw people in, but if he doesn’t make the sale, he doesn’t eat. Of course newbie (or talentless) authors with no prospect of sales might offer free downloads of their work in the hope of gaining an audience for their later work, but it’s their work so they can choose to do what they wish with it.
“A torrent download of a book isn’t necessarily a lost sale.”
Really? I hear this ad nauseam. Don’t know about you, but I’ve yet to open my email and find an offer for free downloads of any author’s work. I’ve downloaded my own work from pirate sites to see what kind of quality they were offering (mostly .txt files) but I had to go looking for them. I had to Google/Bing the sites, then I had to search out my titles within those sites.
So it’s clear to me that you can’t make an illegal download of a book unless you make a specific search. And you don’t go searching unless you’re interested. If you were interested enough to engage in that process and were unable to find a freebie, chances seem pretty good you’d fork over a few bucks for a single title.
So yeah, it’s a lost sale. Maybe not 100%, but can we go maybe 75%? With three million downloads from these four sites alone – 4shared, scribd, wattpad, and docstoc – and even more from rapidshare, the biggest offender (source), we’re talking serious theft.
“The pirated downloads will introduce people to your work and generate more sales.”
This is the most naive. People act in patterns. People who steal without repercussions will continue to steal. (Thief is the proper word – because they know damn well they’ve no right to what they’re taking.) If you steal The Tomb and like it, are you going to run to Amazon and pay for Legacies and Conspiracies and the others? Are you going to pay even the measly $2.99 pricetag I’ve put on old titles I’ve uploaded myself when just about every freaking word I’ve ever written is available for free download? I don’t know about your planet, but that’s not about to happen on mine.