Not only on the high seas, not only sailing under the skull and crossbones, pirates are still busy at their plundering. I’m talking about pirating of creative and intellectual property, accomplished in great numbers through this wonderful creation called the internet.

I love the internet. I love the access it gives me to a world of new friends. Furthermore, it enables me to tell the world about my books and my friends’ books. But it also enables people to steal my books and the books of my friends.

Almost every day my Google Alerts pop up to inform me of another site where my books can be downloaded for free. In other words, offered without compensation to me or the publisher. Current laws make it the responsibility of the copyright holder to request that this infringement of copyright be taken down. Let me tell you, it is impossible to keep up with it.

I’m not trying to be political, but there is a bill pending to strengthen protection of copyright on the internet. I confess that I didn’t wade through the difficult language of the bill, but I do think the comments are interesting. (Feel free to vote, too: for or against)
Washington Watch: The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act

I am in complete sympathy with those who cannot afford to buy books in today’s difficult economy, but my solution would be to support and promote the use of libraries. And I never complain about used bookstores, because many readers buy used books to try out an author, then they are apt to buy the later books.

What do you all think about this issue? Do you know anyone who downloads pirated books?

See you Thursday at Diane’s Blog
Blogging at DianeGaston.com

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Elena Greene
12 years ago

I try not to think about piracy too much, because it is depressing!

I followed the link you provided and I’m amazed at how many people are calling this a censorship issue. How is pulling down a piracy site censorship when you can get the same content legally, just by buying it at a legitimate bookstore or going to a library?

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

That surprised me, too, Elena. I think they feel that charging for what people read controls what they can think. I think they are worried that the internet will no longer be free.

12 years ago

I feel empathy for the writers on this matter. I read an article recently defending piracy by saying that it actually, “helped with book sales”. I guess people will try to justify anything.

12 years ago

Doctors, lawyers, garage mechanics, cobblers, and just about everyone else don’t work for free, so why do some people think that musicians or authors shouldn’t be compensated for their work? With books/CDs/movies checked out from the library or purchased at a UBS the author has received the initial royalties for her work. With illegal downloads, the author receives nothing. Why everyone doesn’t understand that this is immoral and should be illegal mystifies me.

12 years ago

I feel guilty enough when I buy a book at HalfPrice. I try to only do that when I can’t find it any other way. I can’t imagine downloading a book from a pirate site. Where in the legislative process is this bill?

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Kat, I’ve also heard people say that those who illegally download books wouldn’t buy them anyway. That’s not very consoling to me, though.

Susan/DC, Well put!!! I could not have expressed it better.

mizwaller, the bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee

I read a bit more about it online. It may not be a perfect solution, but hopefully any problems will be ironed out in the committee.

12 years ago

I’ve never done it and never will. It is definitely stealing. Libraries are available to all and like you said, there are used book stores, friends, flea markets and estate sales if you really can’t afford new books. I have found new authors that way and then go on to buy their books.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

What burns me up, catslady, is that library budgets were cut just when everyone needed the libraries the most.

A person can’t even apply for jobs without a computer and those who don’t have a computer need to depend on their libraries.

Not to mention the need to read, to have books!!

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Stealing is stealing. If it walks like a thief, and talks like a thief and takes something that doesn’t belong to it like a thief – IT’S A THIEF !!!

I can’t afford to drive a Mercedes, but I am pretty sure that if I walk into a dealership and say “Hey, I can’t afford it, but I want a red one.” they are NOT going to hand me the keys.

Entire generations have been raised with this sense of entitlement. With no concern or respect for the amount of time and work and talent it takes to write a book. When they wanted something as children they got it. Their parents never taught them the meaning of the word “no,” or “we can’t afford it right now” or “you have to earn it.” To allow a child to grow up thinking they can have something just because they want it, with no effort, no cost and no thought as to who loses in the process is a form of child abuse. Just like downloading a book you haven’t paid for is STEALING !!

Censorship my Aunt Fanny ! Your rights end where the other guy’s nose begins. And if you are stealing my book, you are violating my rights.

Can you tell this is a HOT topic with me? VBG

12 years ago

Pirates steal. Stealing is illegal. What’s to misinterpret? If you don’t want to pay for it, then support your local library where books can be checked out for free. If you’re unwilling to go the library or pay for it, then you really don’t want it that badly.

I remember wanting a Madam Alexander doll, when I was a little girl. I put her on layaway and took in a dollar (my entire allowance) every week, for six months to pay for her.

Censorship? How about ETHICS?! I remember one of my teachers lamenting having to flunk a student because they cheated on an ethics exam. Clearly, they didn’t GET IT!

I must admit, I had several friends in the music industry that would ask if they could copy my CD’s. I’d simply stare at them, for several long moments, until they squirmed. They usually said something like, “Well, it’s not as if no one else does it.” To which I’d reply, “A million lemmings can be wrong.” If they continued to push, I invariably found myself asking, “Are you familiar with the concept of honesty?”

12 years ago

Considering that warnings about “stripped books” are on the copyright page of paperbacks, I’m astonished that people would think downloading entire books from the Internet is somehow okay (unless the books come from a reputable site, like the author’s or the publisher’s).

I don’t know anyone who has downloaded books illegally, but I have friends who download music and shows that are not available in the United States. I don’t know if that’s illegal or not.

Libraries have ebooks as well as paper books and if the local library doesn’t have something, there’s inter-library loan. That’s a whole lot of books available to everyone at no or low cost (sometimes libraries would charge $1 or less for inter-library loans).

12 years ago

I think that pirating books is wrong but I also think that publishers putting DRM on books makes them more likely to be pirated when in eBook format and unfortunately, it’s not just eBook (though it’s easier(?) with an eBook, but paper books get pirated too. I remember reading an article about the finished product of one of the Harry Potter books “falling off the back of a truck” right before it got to the publisher. It was all over the internet and in the hands of lots of people.

I feel awful for the writer when this happens because I know it affects their sales and thus their income. That said, I really don’t know what the $ value impact is or how much of actual sales in % it actually cuts into.

Unfortunately, a lot of times, piracy is not about not paying or not being able to afford to pay, but more about some people who feel indignant about the fact that they have to pay for anything at all or that the “establishment” is trying to get them and this is their way of “getting back at them”.

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