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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Should all books be FREE? Copyright Infringement Issue...

How do you feel about copyright infringement?  Well here's the thing, should all books  be free?  

Today I was made aware of something very interesting, one of my books has been listed on a website as a pirate download.  How did this make me feel... I was really annoyed because.:-  this means that someone has actually had to scan the entire book and upload it as there were no digital copies anywhere available on the internet, so it's blatant theft.  At no time has anyone tried to contact me and ask my permission to use my book in any way, shape or form. And who on earth would want to steal and upload one of my books anyway? It's not as if I am even well known, so God only knows.

But still, I am vexed about it (and before you ask, no I'm not being precious and having a bitch fit) so I have contacted the website in question and informed them of this copyright violation, I haven't heard anything back as of yet, but I can only imagine what they are going to tell me… I'll keep you informed.

But the really sad thing is, that I also saw on the website several very popular YA authors, their work is there too, pages and pages of files just waiting to be downloaded for nothing, their books are being  'virtually stolen'   I wonder how they would feel, seeing entire series of their novels available in that manner? Pretty hacked off to say the least. 

As most authors know, actually trying to make a good living from selling books is almost impossible in todays market.  Firstly just trying to find an agent is very very very hard, getting a publisher is harder still.  Then you have the extra task of trying to market your books (as marketing budgets are being cut to the bone) and find your audience, which is even harder as the volume of books released via a wide cross section of mediums increases exponentially year in year out, and then after all your hard work, you find that someone has uploaded your book for the entire world to download for free. 

This is how I see this scenario:  A person walks into a book store and steals a book, but it's not just one person, it's every person that downloads a pirate copy - mass theft.

So what incentive does that give an author to produce new work, to have slaved blood, sweat and tears for months and months or perhaps even years in some cases on a new novel,  edit it until their eyes have nearly shrivelled up and fallen out and then wait for about a year or two (depending on the publishers time table) for it to be finally published, and then it gets hijacked in cyberspace and stolen?  

Ok so the author has received an advance, (if they are a new author it will only be a small amount and even well established authors are seeing their advances being slashed as the publishing arena changes) and they will get royalties if the book sells well, but then then what about all the lost revenue because of copyright theft? 

So back to the question - should all books be free?   Should authors just give their work away?  Should they work for free?  (well if they want to, that's fine, but everyone needs to eat)

That would be the same as someone who works, for instance in a coffee shop and does it for free forever.  Or the nursery school teacher who does an ten hour day but never gets paid or the free doctor,  perhaps a receptionist does a 50 hour week for free,  etc...  Because if one vocation works for free,  then shouldn't everyone?   (and I'm not taking about volunteer work here - that's a topic all on its own)

Ah, I hear you say, but those other professions you've mentioned don't produce written word for public consumption that can be hijacked. 

So therein the fault lies with the author, but without the author there would be no books and without books what a dull world it would be, and besides, shouldn't the author be entitled to a little remuneration where it's due?

I know there's no such thing as a free lunch, do the people who pirate books?  You may or may not agree with me, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however I wouldn't take a sandwich off the plate without asking first and I certainly wouldn't walk off with it without paying.

UPDATE Friday 26-08-11:

I got an email reply from the website in question and their answer was basically:- It's not our problem as we don't actually host the files, so there is nothing we can do for you.

There have been nearly 1000 downloads now, almost 700 since yesterday when I first discovered it.  So I am being virtually mugged at a rate of 29.166 (reoccurring) times per hour for the last 24 hours and that’s if no-one else downloads it.

So what is a girl to do now?

Answers on a postcard to.... just kidding!!!!


  1. Great Blog article. It is unfortunate, but there are people who think music, movies and books, etc. should be free because, TV is free (no, we pay for it - it's called ads) radio is free (no, we pay for it - it's called ads) and so on.

    But what happened in your case is a clear attempt to make money off YOUR work. They scanned your book and made illegal copies (I assume for sale). That's a different kind of piracy. It's illegal and it is wrong. I hope you can shut these people down!

  2. Thanks for your comment, and I agree with your remark about Adverts, a very valid point, we pay for the Ads!


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