Author to give up Writing due to Illegal Downloads

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Ursa major, Dec 21, 2011.

  1.  
    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    If you thought some GRRM fans could be stroppy, that's nothing to some of those who have downloaded, for free, Etxebarria's books:
    The entitlement lobby in full voice, it seems.

    .
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  2.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

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    Um, so authors don't have to eat then. And, of course, it takes no time to write a book, right? Just stick it down and get on with it. Ha ha. Passionately.
  3.  
    alchemist

    alchemist On holidays!

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    What do they think she will live on? Clicks on her Like button?
  4.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    Let me get this straight: There are writers who get paid for writing? I'm shocked and not a little disturbed to hear this.

    Are illegal downloads depriving this author of a living income? Can she publish without publishing in such a way that illegal downloads are possible? Is every author prey to having their work illegally downloaded?

    If I knew the answers to these questions, I might find which side to sympathise with.



    At the moment, with the limitations of my current level of insight, I would personally just feel proud of having a following who wanted to read what I wrote.
  5.  
    The Ace

    The Ace Aye fur Alba

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    It's like heavy industry, we can make them, somebody else can do it cheaper.

    If she can't make a living due to theft, she has a right to make a stand.
  6.  
    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    As has been pointed out in another thread, book sharing is common even without epublishing. While downloads will make it more prevalent, my feeling is that people will usually buy what they really want, and that "pirates" would never have bought anyway. However, there remains the chance that good writing will convert a significant number of pirates into buyers of the author's inventory.

    I remember I had a short-lived business publishing music to mp3.com, where independent muscians could earn significant royalties for people listening to their works. Unfortunately, a few weeks later Unviersal bought the site and killed it. However, I remember being quite chuffed to discover find people found my music interesting enough to put on file-sharing sites. I remember in the early days of this forum, one of those people joined up and became a major member through that, and very welcome he was. :)

    Either way, as a prospective author, I'm not worried about file-sharing. If you believe there is art in what you do, it's more important to get the art out there. That's why most artists scrape a living, regardless. :)

    Worth remembering the severe economic conditions in Spain at the moment are , not least high unemployment, especially among 18-25 year olds, is possibly exaggerating the issue, though.
  7.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

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    How long would it take the free downloaders to complain if they weren't paid for their work?
  8.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    That would be my own bottom-line knee-jerk response.

    And if only I didn't write in cliches, maybe more people would be interested....
  9.  
    Azzagorn

    Azzagorn Member

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    I think its sad that since the rise of eBooks this has increased. If only writers earned as much as actors and directors.... Or bankers. However, surely if writing is her passion she should keep going and I dunno not realise them or eBooks... Would this help I doubt it but it would probably cut down on her priating problem???
  10.  
    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    Even if you believe that one should be able to get things for free, it's still a bit of a cheek to complain when the creator of those things stops doing so.


    And it doesn't provide a very attractive picture of humanity when some of us find it so easy to demand that others be, in effect, our slaves.
  11.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    Ah, now, if we're discussing general rudeness among the human populace of this poor planet, well, all bets are off. Entitlement, however justifiably felt, makes morons of us all. I mean, I'd probably throw a massive hissy fit if the government here made us pay to visit our GPs. Oh, wait, they do that already. All right then, if we were forced to pay an "employment tax" on top of our income tax. Oh, hold on, they did that as well.

    Damn it, I guess I'm just too dashed civilised to deserve a free health service.

    Oh, that's ok, they took most of that away already.

    Note to self: Be rude to someone about that tomorrow.
  12.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    This is not the first writer I have heard who had this problem ... except that the other writer (I forget her name) was cancelled by her publisher because her book earned practically no money, meanwhile there were thousands and thousands of pirated downloads.

    Which, if true, would rather shoot down the idea that if people like something enough they will turn around and pay money for it even after they've been able to get it for free.

    But, hey, if writers are supposed to work merely out of passion, why not actors, musicians, dancers, engineers, computer programmers, accountants, doctors ... if you don't have a passion for what you are doing and aren't happy just because people want to avail themselves of your services, you're obviously in the wrong job.

    Right? Is everyone willing to live by that principle, or is it only writers who aren't supposed to be paid for what they do?

    When only the writers who are willing to work for free are writing, I think we will see that only writers who are willing to turn out garbage are writing.

    Why? Because those who put little effort, time, or passion into their writing are the only ones who will be able to fit it into their busy schedules.

    I mean give me a f---ing break. Most of us get paid less for a year or two of work than most people make in a couple of months. And those with comfortable jobs who can afford all their little electronic toys they use to read a writer's pirated work are going to take our pittance away because we're supposed to do it all for love and be glad they deign to read our work which they don't even value enough to pay for the same as they pay for all their other entertainment? We do do it for love. Otherwise we'd spend our time doing something that would allow us to maintain a decent standard of living.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  13.  
    mosaix

    mosaix Active Member

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    At least there's one book bought in the first place. At least the author gets some revenue.

    I wouldn't have thought that's a difficult decision. One side is making something, the other side is stealing it.


    Excellent post, Teresa.
  14.  
    Interference

    Interference Destroyer of Words

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    Not sure it's that simple, which is why I would like to know how things are done these days.

    For example, if books are being bought, scanned in and freely distributed, piratically, then I would consider that on the immoral side of illegal and some invocation of Law might be necessary.

    If the book is being distributed solely electronically and being stolen, then the author should consider paper only for her next book and get better advisors.

    There are undoubtedly other considerations to be accounted, but I don't know 'em. Others will.

    General overview of my current thinking: The author should cut losses, feel flattered at the extent of the piracy and exercise appropriate caution in future publications. Piracy will be bound to occur, now as ever, but it can, perhaps, be minimised. But to suggest she'll never write again - well, I wonder if that isn't just a ploy. How can a writer stop writing? How can a painter stop painting? Or an actor stop acting, even if they revert to the amateur arena.

    Secondly, those who rant and rail against the withdrawal of freebies should catch themselves on and stop committing crimes. But those who are upset with the author for never writing again have a point and perhaps polite urging ought to do the trick.

    Thirdly, I'm not an expert, but since when were such things simple decisions? The author must consider her true fans and paying customers first, her true pirating fans second and the morons last. Like musicians, authors' works are relatively easy to circulate after paying only the cover price. A lot of books I've read, I've borrowed or bought in book sales. But I also bought a lot new - in an actual shop. One I bought as an electronic download and have never deliberately shared it with anyone - not including friends who use my computer.

    Were it a simple right or wrong issue, you and I would never borrow a book again.

    Again, this is just my current thinking on the matter and, as always, I'm open to (preferably polite :)) persuasion.
  15.  
    mosaix

    mosaix Active Member

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    Hi Interference, I wouldn't dream of discussing this with you in anything but a polite manner. :)

    My basic thoughts on the matter are this, some things are illegal (theft) some things aren't (borrowing and lending).
  16.  
    TheTomG

    TheTomG Thomas M. Grimes

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    I wonder why artists are magically different from anyone else?

    If I worked in a factory, and someone suggested I do so for free, there would be accusations of slavery and unions would form to defend my rights.

    If I walked into the Apple store and walked out with an iPhone without paying for it because Apple designers should make their products because they love doing so, I would be arrested and no judge or sane member of civilization would defend my actions.

    But when you are a musician, writer, etc, then suddenly what you create is different, and people are entitled to it for some reason, without giving you recompense for your time, training, and effort.

    This is compounded in the digital domain because digital things "don't exist" - if I take a copy, I'm not depriving someone else of that copy, so no theft involved, right? Again musicians and writers suffer, as their works move into the digital domain, and so do programmers there, where software gets stolen regularly.

    Let me say as a programmer, graphic artist, novelist and musician, I deplore piracy in all its forms. Pay the poor person for the work they did, or don't take their work. If you can't afford it, well, I can't afford a Lamborghini, but doesn't entitle me to walk up and steal it.

    And why should the author stick to physical publishing and so deprive herself of a very valid means of distribution? Just because it is easier to steal the work through that means, does it make the theft any more abhorrent?

    Now, I do write, but I do so very slowly, because it is not my profession, I have a day job and it keeps me so tired and uses up so many hours, it takes me a long time to write anything. This person is now in the same boat - their writing doesn't pay enough for her to do it full time as we all need to eat, and if she's working in another job, she simply won't be able to write.

    I think that is a good message to put out there. Now the pirates ought to either pay the lady for taking her work, or accept that she has to bow out from writing. I am amazed that they would have the audacity to complain and be vitriolic.

    I'm also amazed that we here, with so many artists and writers, even think there is a debate to be had...

    EDIT - of course I know we can't stamp out piracy or stop it, and I am an advocate of no DRM, but that doesn't mean the pirates are right, and it also means an author or any artist (or any worker) should be able to say "I cannot run this as a business - if the number of people using my product paid for my product then I could, but so many are taking it for free it is economically impossible for me to keep doing this." and be free of being criticized for such an honest and fact-of-life-as-society-is-run statement.
  17.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Be flattered by the number of people who think her work is worth nothing? But I am sure that for every single person here there are millions of people who think that our writing isn't worth spit. That puts us all on equal ground whether we've spent ten years writing a book or just jotted something down this afternoon. That's flattering.

    Those would be the people who think her writing isn't worth paying for? The ones who would rather spend their money on whatever little trinket they want than on her books? Those fans? Fans are supposed to be the people who love what you do, not the people who don't value it at all.

    The woman is disillusioned. Something she loved, something she wanted to share with the world, has been devalued. Cut her some slack. You're willing to do that for the people who pirate her work.
  18.  
    Parson

    Parson This world is not my home

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    I think the real problem here is that people don't make the connection that what they are doing is really hurting someone. I assume (and I am more than willing to be proved wrong here) that most book pirating is done on a basic friend to friend basis. This could still lead to hundreds and hundreds of illegal downloads. If they think about those on the other side at all, they think of the publisher (who they assume is filthy rich) and the author who's only out bus change. So "no one's hurt."

    But if people see real people involved it becomes more real. How many people steal even bus change from their friend because it's laying on the kitchen table? Maybe I'm naive, but among my church people you could lay 35 cents on the copy machine on Sunday and it would still be there next Sunday, but some don't bat an eyelash about making 15 copies of a song so that the choir can sing a particular song. --- Logic? Well, we couldn't afford this so we wouldn't buy it, but we'd like to sing it, so we'll make a copy?" --- After 20 years of saying this, it doesn't happen in my church to my knowledge any more.

    I won't read a pirated book, or make a book available to pirate because in the end it is just like stealing --- indeed it is stealing --- and utterly immoral.
  19.  
    jojajihisc

    jojajihisc vast and cool

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    Everybody tends to assume that the author lost money because of free downloads of her work. Is it not possible she sold more copies because her books were pirated?

    Cory Doctorow talks about this quite often and he describes the people that download a book for free fall into one of three categories: (1.) someone who displaces a sale, which is bad (2.) someone who creates a sale either by buying something else from the author in the future or by publicizing the author's work so that others buy something, which is good or; (3.) someone who neither displaces a sale because they would not have bought the book anyway nor will they download anything further, nor creates a sale by buying something else or letting people who might copy his own pirated copy - and this category, which I suspect makes up the largest group, is neutral. The question is which group is bigger 1 or 2? If it is group 1 then the author is losing money from piracy and if it is group 2 the author is making money from piracy.
  20.  
    TheTomG

    TheTomG Thomas M. Grimes

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    The problem I have with item 2 is that it goes beyond that - it begins to create a mindset where everything should be free (at least in terms of artistic works) and this begins to erode people buying things in general. The small picture for one artist MIGHT be that they get lucky and piracy leads to more sales, but the big picture is that it has further entrenched a way of thinking which is that artists don't deserve to be paid.

    Parsons, you say that it is done on a friend to friend basis, but this is not so. Books are available, like movies, through torrents - a file can contain hundreds or even thousands of books, and people download the whole file, not just one book. They do so from anonymous others across the web, and will grab multiple files, building a library of tens of thousands of books for free.

    They then never bother to buy any book, because they have a library they can never get through anyway. They have enough reading material to last a lifetime. There is no friend to friend discussion or word of mouth promotion of "This book was awesome!" that might feed along to a purchaser.

    Piracy in this form does no good for the artist at all, and this is very prevalent - from my day job, I see people run into DMCA violations, so I can see how common this is. Interestingly the ones seeking out and combating the violations are the movie firms primarily. I have seen one or two game software download violations, I may have seen one or two music related infringements I'm not sure, but I am sure that I have seen zero literary infringements brought to bear.

    So while a movie pirate may run afoul of legislation, those stealing books can do so without fear of reprisal, it seems. There's no-one there to take up our case....
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