Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Stealing Books

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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“The Great Book Robbery” ~ “a case of cultural theft or preservation?”


What if you were happy in your life, educated and productive, and another country decided you didn’t deserve to live where you do?

What makes certain people think that other people aren’t as important as they are?

And, why do some people commit horrific acts against other humans?

I would love some of your answers to those questions in the Comments

Most particularly, what if, along with forcing you to leave, this other country decided that, even though you weren’t important, your books were important?

Simple question next, but indicative of twisted minds:

What if those invaders put your books in a library and labeled them “Absentee Property”, even though the absence was cause by an act of expulsion?

What if all this happened in 1948 and, even though the people who have the “Absentee Property” said they would return it, they still maintain their right to keep it?

Is this cultural theft?

If you love books and realize the importance they have in personal growth and human culture, please watch this video—>The Great Book Robbery.
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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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