Oct 28 2009
From the comments on the thread regarding the copyrights of readers, it appears that some authors believe that they aren’t getting a sufficient forum on Dear Author to air their frustrations and concerns about piracy. The pressing need to talk about piracy whenever the subject of ebooks comes up appears to overwhelm any other thoughts about digital books and readers. This post is a forum for those authors.
Before we get to the comments, though, I want to state two things.
First, Dear Author is not a blog devoted to authors or author causes or author issues. We are a reader blog and our focus is for the readers, from the reviews, to the giveaways, to the opinion pieces. We are not author advocates and yes, often our reader interest is at odds with the authors. We do not exist to advance any author position nor any particular author. If it appears that we do, it is because we have an interest in an author topic or a particular author, not because we exist to do service on behalf of authors and their self interests. To state it more bluntly, we at Dear Author owe you, the author, nothing.
Second, we do not condone piracy at Dear Author. We understand that piracy causes us pain in terms of enabling author and publisher hysteria, increasing the costs of ebooks, and contributing to stupid publishing tricks such as super premium pricing, delaying of the books, and DRM. But we also understand that fighting piracy is not the best use of our time. The best use of our time and space here at Dear Author is to discuss the book, spread the love of the book, and seed interest in the book.
Yes, publishing is tough these days. Publishers are turning away books they may have bought in the past. Booksellers are cutting back on their orders and contracts are being canceled. This is not the result of piracy, but you can certainly try to sell me on the idea that it is. I am convinced that the best thing for authors and publishers to do is to make sure that the pirate has the least attractive option. This is a phenomenal article on the futility of fighting piracy. Piracy, like the poor as Matthew says, will always be with us. Nothing the RIAA or MPAA has done in terms of anti pirate measures has worked. The pirates will always make material available for free. The goal then must be to make the legitimate purchase equal to or better than the pirating experience.
“Well, maybe we were focused on trying to disrupt the networks and we should have focused on a technological solution to mass notification.” Well be on to the next thing. Well spend some number of months–I’m just essentially recounting the music industry’s journey–filing vast numbers of infringement notifications, letting everybody and their granny know you’re infringing our content. They’ll take the temperature and they’ll do surveys and collect data and they’ll try to convince themselves that this is having a real effect in reversing the tide and then after some period it will just not have been convincingly demonstrated to have worked. And they’ll realize that by any number of measures the piracy problem has only grown worse. But they will have to exhaust all of those things and more. They will have to chase legal remedies, legislative agendas, all the way to what they view as being the end of the line before they say “OK, so this really is the landscape we’re stuck with. As much as we didn’t want it, this appears to be it. Now we have to just dive in and make businesses that work here.”
Having said that, some authors clearly believe that we, as readers, need to hear them on this issue. So authors, here is your space. You can tell us why we shouldn’t pirate even if most of us have already said we don’t. You can tell us in what ways piracy has hurt your career (empirical evidence and studies not funded by the RIAA or MPAA are helpful). You can tell us why you think it is the reader’s obligation to pursue piracy and enumerate the ways in which you think readers should act to help you prevent piracy.