Foaming at the mouth
I just got a Google alert. Apparently Rocking the Boat has just appeared on a pirate site. I knew it would only be a matter of time as many of my fellow authors have experienced this same dubious honor. In fact, not long after I joined Dreamspinner Press’s authors’ group piracy was a one of the topics that people discussed in depth.
Can open, worms everywhere.
Piracy constitutes a real concern with digital publishing. For one thing, it’s easy. Just upload a file. For another thing, it’s apparently victimless. I mean, it’s just digital signals, right? No one’s really hurt by. I imagine that’s what these brave new digital cowboys tell themselves as they trample all over my intellectual property rights. I mean, they took down the recording industry, right?
Except that they didn’t.
Or maybe they think they’re striking a blow against the Man. Yep, an author’s sure the Man. I’ve made a whopping $106 off Rocking the Boat as of the last royalties statement. That’ll sure keep me in…lattes, maybe? Well, at around $5 a pop that kept me in 21 lattes. My publisher is a small outfit with a similarly small profit margin. Writing and selling these books makes no one rich.
Piracy is the only real con to e-publishing I see. People are free to duplicate their copy of my book as much as they want to. Technically—and I hope it’s that people don’t realize this and not that they don’t care—when they download a book, it’s more like it’s being licensed to them, rather than if they went down to their local independent book seller and bought a book. Read the fine print before you download.
If they went to a book store, or bought a copy off Amazon, they’d have a physical copy of the book to do with as they pleased, like loan it, give it away, or re-sell it at a used bookstore. People think that’s what an e-copy is, but from the standpoint of intellectual property, it’s not.
As a writer, I’m interested to see how this develops. I don’t know if we’ll evolve towards some kind of common license, or how copyrights will change, if change they will. The legal foundation for patents and copyrights and things like that is in the Constitution, and that’s hard to change and deliberately so.
Don’t like the fact that you can’t share my book infinitely? Too bad. Lobby Congress to take up a Constitutional amendment. In the mean time, pirates are nothing but petty thieves.
For remedy, I think we can look to the music industry, since it’s so much further along with digital-rights management, even prosecuting people who’ve downloaded pirated music. I don’t know if that’s the right approach or not, to be honest, but I don’t have a better suggestion, either. And right now, I’d love to see a few book pirates strung up by their short-and-curlies.
As a reader, I buy books and I read them on my iPhone. It’s fantastic. I’ve got a whole library in my pocket, and as a…I’m not a soccer dad, a karate dad? Anyway, I’m away from the house a lot, and it’s very convenient to have a choice of books on my phone. My husband’s similarly enamored of his Kindle. While there’ll always be a warm place in my heart for the aesthetic of a book in my hands, and the peace of a library, I live by the convenience of digital media. This isn’t some neo-Luddite rant about new-fangled technology and get the hell off my lawn, you damn brats.
This is about someone’s flagrant disregard for the law and what is morally right.
So what did I do? As soon as I got the Google alert, I complained the host under the DCMA link, and since it was the Kindle edition of my book, I let Amazon’s copyright infringement office know, too. There’s a not a lot more I can do, I guess, although if I get any pushback, I just might hire an attorney.