Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Book Piracy

Is Book Piracy Bad for Authors?


It seems our digital world is the perfect place for pirates to ply their trade—copy someone’s book and offer it free to others.

Book Piracy

Image Courtesy of Bartek Ambrozik ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/ambrozjo

I’m not talking about stealing a book then selling it as one’s own—or, plagiarizing—just the increasingly popular piratical sharing of books.

It appears it’s nearly impossible to get any solid figures on how much piracy is going on; but, all indications point toward it being huge…

Should an author care if lots of people are reading their book for free?

Back in 2011, I wrote three posts about piracy:

Ebook Piracy ~ Not A Bad Thing??

Free Books, Pirated Books, & Our Digital Age…

Do You Steal Books? ~and~ Do Authors Care?

I’ll share a quote I used in that first post from eBookAnoid:

“…it is worth considering whether the rise of the pirate sites is actually all bad for the sales of ebooks…. And it seems that perhaps the picture is not as black and white as is generally thought. In a post on the CBC website, this is gone into at some depth, and it would appear that instead of decreasing legal sales of ebooks, the appearance of any particular ebook on a pirate website can  actually increase the legal sales of that particular ebook – in other words, the illegal copies seem to act as a sort of advertisement for the legal ones…”

Obviously, if you’re concerned about piracy, I encourage you to go read those three posts…

But, I’ll finish this one with a video of Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning author, giving his view on folks stealing lending-out his books…


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Book Piracy ~ Revisited . . .


“Back in the dim fringes of my always-right, exuberant, ill-informed past, I did steal a book or three.

“That was well before the commonality of digital books. Now, folks can steal a book with three mouse-clicks.”

I wrote that back in December of 2011 in the post, Do You Steal Books? ~and~ Do Authors Care?

I also jumped into the piracy controversy in these posts:

Ebook Piracy ~ Not A Bad Thing??

Free Books, Pirated Books, & Our Digital Age…

Copyright and Book Piracy

I’ll add a few snippets from those posts:

“…it would appear that instead of decreasing legal sales of ebooks, the appearance of any particular ebook on a pirate website can  actually increase the legal sales of that particular ebook…”

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“…I’m being pirated. Google pointed to 8880 different sites where my work is being illegally shared.

“Copyright is unenforceable in a digital world. Period.

“People want to share files.

“There is ZERO reliable evidence that file-sharing hurts sales.”

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“…the claims you make about piracy aren’t based on any real evidence.  I’d like to offer some data that argue for a different point of view.

“…the greater threat to many authors is obscurity, not piracy.

“There are no reliable studies of the impact of piracy in the book business.

“The Government Accounting Office recently ‘assessed the assessments’ of digital piracy and found them all lacking.

“So, here’s what I think you should do: ….work with authors to distinguish between the instance of piracy and its impact. A pirated file is not necessarily equivalent to a lost sale. Most authors want to make money, but I’d wager that all authors would like to be read.”

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“The Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution reads: ‘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.’ The copyright part of this clause—the part referring to authors—has become a stick to bludgeon technology, not just to protect authors’ rights.

“In theory, the office should be properly protecting authors’ rights while not interfering with activities that do not infringe on those rights. But a lot of the time it does not seem like the Copyright Office follows that theory. Far too often it seems eager to block technologies that have a chance of interfering rather than those that will, by necessity, interfere.”

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Now, let me add a bit from an article on readwrite play, from January 10th, called Why Winning A $7,000 Piracy Lawsuit Could Be The Worst News Ever For Book Publishers:

“Earlier this week, the book publishing industry hit a milestone. For the first time ever, a publisher successfully sued consumers for pirating books via BitTorrent. As a result of the lawsuit, a pair of New York residents will pay $7,000 in damages to John Wiley and Sons, the company that puts out the ‘For Dummies’ series of instructional books….

“Like music and movies, e-books get pirated. But that doesn’t mean suing everyone you can find is the only possible response.”

BitTorrent is a legal site that is often used illegally to pirate books

Well, author Tim Ferriss decided to turn the tables on piracy and worked with BitTorrent to feature a free download package promoting his book, The 4-Hour Chef.

More from the article:

“Since debuting in November, Tim Ferriss’s BitTorrent content bundle has been downloaded more than 1.4 million times…it’s hard to imagine that the promotion didn’t help drive The 4-Hour Chef up the bestseller charts at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly…”.

So…

Is piracy something to worry about or capitalize on?

Do you know of an author who’s had their book(s) pirated?

Did it bother them?

Should it bother an author?

Do, please, read the rest of those articles, if you’re the kind of reader who follows links, and/or, do, please, leave your thoughts and feelings in the Comments :-)
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Copyright and Book Piracy


Writers can become manic about copyright.

“It’s my intellectual property and I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone steal it!”

I read an interesting article by Scott Bradner (University Technology Security Officer at Harvard University.  Writes a weekly column for Network World. Serves as the Secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society (ISOC). A trustee of the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN)), called Progress Only by Permission.

A few excerpts:

“The Copyright Clause in the U.S. Constitution reads: ‘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.’ The copyright part of this clause—the part referring to authors—has become a stick to bludgeon technology, not just to protect authors’ rights.”

“In theory, the office should be properly protecting authors’ rights while not interfering with activities that do not infringe on those rights. But a lot of the time it does not seem like the Copyright Office follows that theory. Far too often it seems eager to block technologies that have a chance of interfering rather than those that will, by necessity, interfere.”

[ referring to a legal statement by Ralph Oman ] — “In Oman’s world, Congress would have had to deliberate and preapprove of the Internet, music players, digital recorders, VCRs, personal computers, tablets and any of a thousand innovations of the last 30 years just because they might be able to be used to violate someone’s copyright.”

Smoothly switching gears

An article by Joe Konrath called, Piracy…Again:

[ after relating four instances of having his writing stolen ] — “What continues to amaze me is how freaked-out authors are by this. The thought that someone is sharing their work—without paying for it—seems to evoke the same reaction as having someone hack your bank account and drain your life savings.”

“Copyright is unenforceable in a digital world. Period. Exclamation point. At no time in history has any individual, company, or industry been able to stop file sharing. No country or law has been able to stop it.”

[ in response to a comment that an author doesn’t want their work stolen ] — “Then don’t write. Simple as that. JK Rowling has lost millions of dollars, because she refused to let Harry Potter come out in ebook form. Newsflash: you can get ebooks of all the Potter books from pirate sites. She didn’t cater to her fans, so her fans catered to themselves. And if Rowling can’t stop it, with her billions and armies of layers, you can’t either.”

“If you have an ounce of brains in your head, you will quickly realize that piracy is always going to be here, that nothing can be done to stop it, that artists can still make money, and that you’d be much better off worrying about something you have control over, like writing more and better books.”

So, that’s Joe

What do you think?

Is it possible to stop book piracy?

Does illegal file-sharing of a book actually increase its sales?

What good is a copyright?
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Do You Steal Books? ~and~ Do Authors Care?


Back in the dim fringes of my always-right, exuberant, ill-informed past, I did steal a book or three.

That was well before the commonality of digital books. Now, folks can steal a book with three mouse-clicks.

I’ve written before about book piracy: Ebook Piracy ~ Not A Bad Thing?? and Free Books, Pirated Books, & Our Digital Age…, to name two.

I just read a letter from Brian O’Leary, publishing consultant, to the President of the Author’s Guild, author and lawyer, Scott Turow.

It’s called The Walls We Build Up and I’ll put a few excerpts here to encourage you to read the whole letter:

“Dear Mr. Turow,
Congratulations and best wishes on your election as president of the Authors Guild.”

“…the claims you make about piracy aren’t based on any real evidence.  I’d like to offer some data that argue for a different point of view.”

“…the greater threat to many authors is obscurity, not piracy.”

“There are no reliable studies of the impact of piracy in the book business.”

“The Government Accounting Office recently ‘assessed the assessments’ of digital piracy and found them all lacking.”

“So, here’s what I think you should do: ….work with authors to distinguish between the instance of piracy and its impact. A pirated file is not necessarily equivalent to a lost sale. Most authors want to make money, but I’d wager that all authors would like to be read.”

“We can do as the music industry did, presuming a single answer and defending an existing model.  Or, we can choose a data-driven, more flexible path.  I prefer the latter, and I hope I can convince you that you should, too.  Even with the best of intentions, the walls we build up can lock us in.”

Do you know an author who’s suffered from piracy?

Are you an author who’s experienced this?

What are your thoughts and feelings on the issue??
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Free Books, Pirated Books, & Our Digital Age…


Many writers freak out when considering their ideas or whole books will be stolen.

Many readers steal and share stolen books.

Should a writer be worried?

First, consider Jane Friedman’s article, Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen?, where she says, amongst other potent ideas:

“It is not possible under current U.S. law to copyright or protect an idea.”

“Sure, someone can steal your idea, but they can’t possibly execute it or interpret it in the same way you can.”

“Piracy is more likely to hurt authors who are famous, rather than the unknown authors.”

Naturally, you should read the whole article if you have concerns about your writing

So, for the moment, let’s not worry that our ideas will be stolen. Let’s worry that someone will pirate them and make money we should be getting.

Joe Konrath, in his article, Piracy… Again, says:

“…I’m being pirated. Google pointed to 8880 different sites where my work is being illegally shared.”

“Copyright is unenforceable in a digital world. Period.”

“People want to share files.”

“There is ZERO reliable evidence that file-sharing hurts sales.”

So

Two people who really know their stuff say not to worry.

Then there’s Cory Doctorow who glories in giving his books away. Check out the links in my past post, Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…

Do you think you could give your writing away even if it was for sale?

Do you know any authors who do this?

Does it seem completely counterproductive?

Did you read Cory’s ideas at that link in my past post??
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