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Monday, July 09, 2018

Piracy - Another Rant...

Yet again, I’ve visited a web site that pirates books that are in print, without asking permission of author or  publisher. The link to this one was sent to ASA members this morning. Most of these sites don’t have any contact emails, but oddly, this one does. And allows comments which I assume are moderated to make sure only the positive ones get through. 

It even has a “mission statement” that tells you they believe that “knowledge and information should be free to anyone around the globe.” Yeah, sure. As long as we can get away with not paying for it, and as long as nobody helps themselves to our hard work. 

It assures you that unlike other pirate web sites(of course, it doesn’t use the word “pirate”), you will actually get a download from them. Free! All I can say about that is that anyone who gets ripped off on those sites deserves it. 

“Oh, but I can’t afford it!” they cry. Have they ever heard of a library? Use a library, you get the books for free and the author gets lending right, win win, right? You don’t have to own them. And you can ask the library to get in a book they don’t have.

This one urges its readers to give their stolen books a “nice review” on Amazon, and buy the next one “when you can afford it”. How kind of them! 

People, these “free” books are illegal. You are breaking the law, just as much as if you shoplifted or broke into someone’s home. You are stealing someone else’s hard work. Every time you download a book from a site like this, that is one less royalty for the author. Very few people can make a living out of writing. Those who do are relying on it to put food on the table and pay the rent or the mortgage. “But I wouldn’t have bought it anyway!” you protest. What? You don’t think the book was worth paying for? Then why get it? “Those publishers are robbers! Why shouldn’t I?” Yeah, heard that one too. But publishers are businesses like any other. They can’t keep publishing if people don’t pay. That costs jobs. Think about it.

The thing is, there are a lot of authors and publishers out there offering freebies for a day or a week or whatever. These are legal. You’ll find them all over iBooks and Amazon. There is the Instafreebie app, which sends you an email daily with free books on it. These are offered by the authors, sometimes the first of a series to promote their new ones, and you are put on their mailing lists. They actually sign up for Instafreebie. A friend of mine has done that and also offers free short stories or first volumes in his newsletters. Baen Books offers quite a few free books in its e-book library, from its back list. These are temporary, for promotional purposes. 

See the difference? These are legal AND free. You can still do that nice review and buy their next book, or you don’t have to. But at least the author has given permission. I really don’t want to hear “But it’s promotion!” ever again, thank you, unless the promotion is decided by the author or the publisher. It’s their decision to make, nobody else’s. 

Right. Rant over, down from soapbox. Time to get back to my  TBR pile and reviews. I received two children’s picture books from Macmillan today. As of  next week, I will be doing a day a week as a volunteer at a primary school in Sunshine, and these books will go there as soon as reviewed. Watch this space!





7 comments:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue - thanks for the explanation for the rant ... it's so despicable how low people will go - take care ... Hilary

AJ Blythe said...

Many of the pirate sides embed malware (or worse) into their downloads, so user beware. Love Karma!

It's an interesting conundrum for authors. There are a lot of interesting discussions around the webiverse on the pros and cons (for authors) on piracy sites. I've heard one author say she doesn't bother with take down notices anymore - that sites pop up as fast as you can take down and she's been much happier since giving up the stress and cost of take downs. TV/movie piracy has slowed since the government stepped in, I wonder if they'll ever do that for books?

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Hilary and AJ. AJ, there ARE no pros to piracy. It’s theft. There’s no pro to theft. Yes, they do keep popping up and some people do give up. Serve people right if they get malware! As a fellow Aussie, you might have read in the papers about something called “fair use”, which was effectively going to make piracy legal in Australia! That, and parallel imports. And goodness, there were stacks of comments on the Age web site about how it served those greedy publishers right and how greedy authors were and how everyone was paying way too much for books... there is a certain Age journalist I won’t read any more since he supported theft of writer income(journalists get paid flat fees anyway, but they are paid well).

AJ Blythe said...

Sue, I certainly don't agree with it (it's stealing). Apologies if that's not how my comment came across.

There are authors who see it as helping sales and I was referring to their arguments as interesting.

Sue Bursztynski said...

What helps sales is not piracy but offering your own books free for a time. Possibly that’s what they meant? ๐Ÿ™‚ In fact, right now a friend of mine has just offered a book free in his newsletter because he’s about to release the sequel. (Too late for me, already bought the book! But I don’t feel obliged to review it., if I decide I don’t like it). Thing is, it was his decision to make, not some pirate web site. I have found that once people are used to getting stuff for free, they aren’t going to pay. Why would they? Remember Napster? One of our students complained bitterly when it was closed down. “I BUY CDs!” he cried. When I asked him if he bought ones he had downloaded for free, he said no. And I’m betting he didn’t buy music by artists he had not paid for, or he would have said so.

Catherine said...

Hi Sue! My husband is having the same problem atm. Not books being pirated but articles he writes in his professional blog being copied by another blog. Being a librarian, I did some investigating and found out who was hosting it. Haven't taken any action yet but will if it happens again. Husband complained to the blog earlier but they have since taken their comments feature off and are still stealing content.

Thought you would be interested in this too: the US Postal Office has had to pay a fine for using a photo that they didn't get copyright permission for https://www.smh.com.au/business/companies/us-postal-service-fined-for-putting-wrong-statue-of-liberty-on-a-stamp-20180706-p4zptz.html
And another case which has come to a terrible conclusion:
https://petapixel.com/2018/07/02/court-rules-copying-photos-found-on-internet-is-fair-use/

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Catherine! Does that blog have a contact email? Most of them do. A takedown demand should be enough. Possibly a chat with someone legal if that doesn’t help, about his options; this is your husband’s bread and butter. I have heard of this sort of stuff. I can’t recall what people did about it, but there are things you can do. I followed your link to that web site about the theft of the author’s photo, and it’s shocking. Our own government was trying to impose on us a US style “fair use” scheme recently. It’s a pity that photographer tried suing, although I understand why and don’t blame him. They had taken down the photo. Now they will probably put it back up and a precedent has been set, so other commercial web sites will help themselves. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ