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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Piracy


This week, my blog touches on something of a rather personal nature. Something that is – sadly – becoming more pandemic with each passing year.
Copyright piracy.
I live in a part of the world where theft is the norm. Seriously! At home, I have an extensive DVD and CD collection, compiled over the years and lovingly cherished. You’ll seldom find such a thing in Greece. Instead, they are armed with the very latest hard drives that contain thousands upon thousands of pirated films and songs. DVD Rips, High Quality/low quality, handmade discs and shaky old camcorder copies.
When I’ve questioned this attitude, I’m often looked at as if I’ve got something horrifically slimy and contagious crawling across my face toward my bottom lip. I hear comments like;
“Why should I pay for it when I can get it free?”
“It’s not harming anyone. Why shouldn’t I download it for nothing?”
“The XXX companies make a lot of money; they’re not going to miss it.”
“The singer/author/actor isn’t going to miss what they never had.”
They often laugh, and take pleasure in telling me how crafty the illegal sites are at avoiding prosecution.
Sound familiar?
I wonder how insulted they would feel if I were to stroll into their home, their shop or place of business, and simply removed something because I liked the look of it.
“Stop! Police!”
“No, it’s okay. I can’t be bothered to spend my money actually buying it, so I’m just downloading it for free.”
I don’t think that would work, do you?
As fellow authors can appreciate, when you write a story, you put your heart and soul into it. It’s your time. Your energy. Your focus and intellectual creativity. Whether your project is long or short, it’s still the same.
The fastest short story I have written so far was Blood-Moon, and that’s completely understandable. It’s a paranormal story with a strong military basis. I was writing about a subject I know intimately. So from the time I put my fingers to the keyboard until I actually sent it off for consideration, (checks and self-editing included) only ten days had passed.
My novels are a different story. (Excuse the pun).
I research them for weeks and months at a time to ensure they’re either factual, or based on factual theory. Then I write out a rough plan of how I want them to develop. Then I start writing. That takes months.
Now, I’m not a well known author, so like many other writers I know, I have to support my family by going out to work. When I come home, instead of being able to spend time relaxing, I’m effectively slogging away on a second shift on my current novel. It can be mentally and emotionally draining, not only for me, but the rest of my family too, who miss out on my company.
So, imagine my delight this week when a fellow author spotted quite a few pieces of my work (and other fellow writers) on a number of Free Pirate Sites.
What particularly annoyed me was the fact that thousands – yes, thousands – of downloads had gone out. As I mentioned, I’m not all that well known, and can only aspire to the heights of Raymond E Feist, Tad Williams, and George R. R. Martin, to name a few. While a few thousand illegal downloads might not affect their particular rankings all that much...that’s not the point. It’s still theft. And for someone like me who needs every sale they can get, it does affect you quite dramatically. Loss of revenue, loss of registered sales, loss of rankings, loss of publicity. (You’d be amazed the wonders getting into a top 100 list can do for your book). That won’t happen if several thousand thieves take what belongs to you, illegally.
And remember, those figures above related to my statistics. My fellow authors also suffered the ignominy of someone helping themselves to work they had poured considerable time and effort into.
Now, I belong to a small independent publisher, Pagan Writers Press. Just imagine the difference a few thousand additional sales would make to those who put their trust in my work in the first place. Multiply that by the amount of other authors on their books that also had their work stolen. Just imagine the benefits my publishers could pass on to my friends and fellow writers with that additional revenue.
You see, it’s not just me this illegal, and quite frankly, distasteful practice is harming. It’s my press. My fellow authors. And my family, don’t forget, who’ve gone without my company for months at a time while I’ve been grafting away. In the end, it also harms you, the loyal reader.
So, what am I trying to say?
Basically...It doesn’t really matter how a thief tries to butter it up, only a mindless idiot would truly believe that taking something that doesn’t belong to them – where payment is expected – without paying for it first is okay. Theft is theft. Illegally sharing is counterfeiting. Ruining someone’s professional standing, ranking, popularity and future development by larger houses who are motivated by statistics is simply wrong.
So, please,
If you come across a site that even looks suspicious, please feel free to let the publisher and/or the author know. We’ll be delighted to take a look and ensure the appropriate authorities are notified, and action is taken.

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