Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday's Words for February 10, 2010

I want to address something that most of you know about, although some of you only recently learned of: e-book piracy.

Actually, “piracy” sounds kind of exotic and sexy, so let’s call it, instead, what it really is: theft.

I know that a lot of people who read these essays every week are e-book authors. Some of you aren’t authors, but this concerns you, too.

I am going to presume that none of you have stolen from any of the writers you have met on line, or even any that you haven’t met. But maybe you know someone who has. This essay is directed at them, and you may feel free to pass this on.

Those of us who are writers have been vigilant in sending out Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) take down notices, as have many of our publishers. Personally, I liken this exercise to trying to bail out the ocean with a thimble: at the end of the day you have a fat file to look at as your accomplishment, but it doesn’t really seem to make any difference.

I think we’re going about fighting this heinous crime (yes, it is a crime! It is against the law!) the wrong way. I think we need to target the people using these services and scooping these “free e-books”. After all, if people didn’t take advantage of this opportunity, the opportunity would cease to exist. I think we need to reach these users of this criminal service (and therefore criminals themselves by extension) just the same way Candy Lightner (the founder of MADD) reached people about the crime of drunk driving: through education and publicity.

The publicity has been happening on most of the loops I belong to for the last several months. That publicity is going to get even more wide spread as major houses continue to put their books on line. Perhaps this essay – which may find itself being reproduced in some unusual places—will help with not only the publicity, but the education.

Now, here comes some of that education for you, and please, as I said earlier, feel free to pass this along to all your friends—and here I directly address those thieves.

Going to one of these sites and downloading an e-book for free is stealing, in the very same way that going to the variety store and lifting a chocolate bar from the counter and walking out without paying for it is stealing, or going into a department store and taking a lipstick, or necklace without paying for it is stealing. If you wouldn’t do either of those things, then why would you steal an e-book?

Now, maybe (because you just don’t know any better) you think it’s no big deal. Maybe you think, “huh, well this is different and besides, those writers are rich. Why are they crying over a few bucks? They can afford it.”

The truth of the matter is that stealing is stealing, period. And for the most part, it’s not rich writers who are losing those few bucks. It’s not Nora Roberts or Dan Brown or even J.K. Rowling who are being stolen from, although I am sure they will be; it’s ordinary, everyday hard-working men and women, who often times barely have enough money to match the size of their month who are being robbed. Yes, they are being robbed.

I know of one author who is a single mom of several children and the only income she has, is what she earns in royalties from her e-books.
Allow me to put this theft that she experiences, then, into a different perspective.

When someone takes a “free” download of one of her stories, one of her children goes without a glass of milk. Someone stole another of her stories? Oh dear, another of her children couldn’t get the shoes he needed – or a warm coat, or a pair of mittens.

Yes, stealing e-books is in fact stealing the necessities of life from children. And no, I am not being melodramatic at all. This is what e-book piracy is in its most basic form.

If you know someone who takes advantage of these sites, please tell them this: E-books don’t cost all that much. They’re good value for the dollars charged. All you’re “saving”, really, when you go to one of those sites and take that “free” download is a couple of dollars.

But you see, the truth is it’s not really free at all. Think of the cost to your soul.

Coming Soon from Morgan Ashbury and Ménage Amour
A novel so bold, so daring, it could only be called...
Brazen Seduction

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