Author Topic: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?  (Read 5119 times)  

Offline Gabriela Popa

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"Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« on: August 28, 2013, 07:45:06 PM »
Just found Kafka's House on a bunch of sites that offer it as a pdf. 

Don't know if they truly have it or not (they have one of those bug "Click here to download" arrows a sane person should not touch -  anything we can do about it?  Ideas or suggestions?
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Offline britrocker

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2013, 07:55:58 PM »
Just found Kafka's House on a bunch of sites that offer it as a pdf.  

Don't know if they truly have it or not (they have one of those bug "Click here to download" arrows a sane person should not touch -  anything we can do about it?  Ideas or suggestions?

Send a DMCA notice to the place hosting the PDF ( works everytime )

Though you will find some sites state they have it in PDF ( other formats ) but they dont. Their end goal is to get people to their site and click on their adsense ads. Nothing more. Crazy but it happens.

Offline Gabriela Popa

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2013, 07:59:40 PM »
Send a DMCA notice to the place hosting the PDF ( works everytime )

Though you will find some sites state they have it in PDF ( other formats ) but they dont. Their end goal is to get people to their site and click on their adsense ads. Nothing more. Crazy but it happens.

Thanks Jono...have you tried it, you are saying it works every time?
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Offline daringnovelist

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2013, 08:07:38 PM »
Note: Double check to see that they really have your book.  Most of these sites just 'scrape' the publicly available info off of Amazon (cover, blurb, reviews) and package that as the book.

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Offline Dolphin

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 12:48:50 AM »
DMCA takedown requests won't necessarily be honored. The Pirate Bay, for example, would laugh in your face (if they bother to reply at all). Reputable sites like Scribd should honor such requests within a few days, but that won't necessarily prevent your work from being pirated there again in the future.

Like Camille said, it's also very possible that the sites have simply scraped your metadata to lure people into clicking useless links. A shocking amount of the internet is worthless garbage written by robots.

Personally, I would encourage you not to worry about this sort of thing. My beliefand I say belief because I can't point to any empirical studies, but it's a belief shared and encouraged by luminaries such as Neil Gaiman and Hugh Howeyis that the visibility is helpful, and you're likely to gain more than you lose from being pirated (assuming you lose anything! I wouldn't assume that you do).

Setting that question aside, you would probably have to work on this every day or every week just to keep up, and there's no guarantee that you'll gain anything from that effortyou might simply be wasting your time, or even be losing readers who you could've sold to otherwise. People will still be able to share your work for free, without your permission, if they're determined to do so. The only way to prevent piracy with certainty is to never publish at all.

Offline Gabriela Popa

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 04:26:54 AM »
Camille: Who knows what they have, I would be afraid to click that "download now" arrow.
Dolphin: You are right - we should not worry - still bugs me.  Best to let it go. 

Thanks much both. 
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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 04:29:41 AM »
If it's a torrent and you can't get it taken down, one alternative is to upload your own, better-formatted, version with links to your other books. These people are rarely your customers/readers anyway, and you might convert some along the way.

Offline Hugh Howey

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 04:34:36 AM »
If it's a torrent and you can't get it taken down, one alternative is to upload your own, better-formatted, version with links to your other books. These people are rarely your customers/readers anyway, and you might convert some along the way.

Brilliant. Every author should have a "Pirate-Friendly" version and seed the internet with them. A kind note, thanking people for "borrowing the book from the grand library that is the internet" with a note on where to paypal if they enjoy it and links to other works. :)
 
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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2013, 04:37:34 AM »
Brilliant. Every author should have a "Pirate-Friendly" version and seed the internet with them. A kind note, thanking people for "borrowing the book from the grand library that is the internet" with a note on where to paypal if they enjoy it and links to other works. :)

I think why not? Pirates are in the minority, and they're never likely going to buy your book in the first place, so I think trying to engage with them, and perhaps *give* them a reason to buy from you in the future is better than worrying about it, because realistically, it can't ever be stopped.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2013, 08:58:59 AM »
Camille: Who knows what they have, I would be afraid to click that "download now" arrow.
Dolphin: You are right - we should not worry - still bugs me.  Best to let it go. 

Thanks much both. 


Most of those sites do not actually have your book. As others have said, they tend to be bots scraping data off Amazon or Books in Print. They scam is to get people to sign up for the site and provide their contact information, which is then sold to spammers. Often, they include having you jump through hoops before you can 'see' the book (sign up for three newsletters, watch two videos, sign up for this free 30 day trial, and then stand on your head and sing America the Beautiful). If someone is actually stupid enough to go through all of that, they usually end up with spyware installed on their computers.

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Offline Gabriela Popa

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2013, 02:54:58 PM »
Brilliant. Every author should have a "Pirate-Friendly" version and seed the internet with them. A kind note, thanking people for "borrowing the book from the grand library that is the internet" with a note on where to paypal if they enjoy it and links to other works. :)

"Dear white-collar pirate,
Attached please find my latest contemporary fiction book..." 


Julie: Iap!
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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2013, 06:23:49 AM »
Brilliant. Every author should have a "Pirate-Friendly" version and seed the internet with them. A kind note, thanking people for "borrowing the book from the grand library that is the internet" with a note on where to paypal if they enjoy it and links to other works. :)

While I don't go out of my way chasing pirates because I don't like playing internet whack-a-mole, I sure as hell am not going to go out of my way to reward scum for their behavior, either. I'm not going to grovel at the feet of selfish, entitled punks and beg for donations when I have honest, legtimate customers who actually respect authors. I think it disrepects honest customers who play by the rules to give scumbags books for free. I don't reward bad behavior.

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Offline zandermarks

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2013, 06:33:06 AM »
One other point that may help as a salve: People who are committed to getting all their entertainment free in pirated form aren't your potential customers anyway. They're not buying anything from anyone.
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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 08:57:37 AM »
While I don't go out of my way chasing pirates because I don't like playing internet whack-a-mole, I sure as hell am not going to go out of my way to reward scum for their behavior, either. I'm not going to grovel at the feet of selfish, entitled punks and beg for donations when I have honest, legtimate customers who actually respect authors. I think it disrepects honest customers who play by the rules to give scumbags books for free. I don't reward bad behavior.

However, doing it Hugh's way means you're tricking them into marketing for you.  ;)

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 09:00:45 AM »
However, doing it Hugh's way means you're tricking them into marketing for you.  ;)

Yeah, marketing to OTHER scumbags who have inflated senses of entitlement. Not exactly the target market I aim for.  :P

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Offline Richardcrasta

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2013, 09:51:26 AM »
Sorry, but what exactly is a DMCA notice?

And would some kind soul please make a list of sites that host pirated books and perhaps also offer a template of a DMCA notice?

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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2013, 10:05:06 AM »
Yeah, marketing to OTHER scumbags who have inflated senses of entitlement. Not exactly the target market I aim for.  :P

Americans with internet access aren't your target audience?

Ooooh, you mean the pirates.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #17 on: August 30, 2013, 10:24:07 AM »
Americans with internet access aren't your target audience?

Ooooh, you mean the pirates.

Hey!  :o :P

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Offline Dolphin

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #18 on: August 30, 2013, 12:47:36 PM »
Sorry, but what exactly is a DMCA notice?

And would some kind soul please make a list of sites that host pirated books and perhaps also offer a template of a DMCA notice?

DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which is a law providing penalties for copyright violations, especially via the internet. Your first move as a copyright holder is to file a takedown notice with the offending content providers. Google "DMCA takedown notice" and you'll find what you're looking for.

Google's also the best way to find sites hosting ebooks that you can download, torrent, or read online. Pack a lunch; you'll be at that for a while.

Seriously though, I hope everybody will learn from Hugh (and ColinI started thinking the same thing, and I reckon you're onto something). None of your readers are selfish, entitled punks or scumbags. They're lovable humans as wonderful and flawed as you, Hugh, or myself, without whom you'd be toiling in obscurity. Maybe you don't want to go out of your way to lend them a helping handthat's fine. Going a step further and insulting them or making a doomed sally against piracy isn't a good look, or a productive move in any modern creative field.

Would you go into a public library and knock your book out of the hands of a patron? Taking the same stand on piracy is equally petulant and out of touch.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2013, 07:02:21 AM »
Would you go into a public library and knock your book out of the hands of a patron? Taking the same stand on piracy is equally petulant and out of touch.

NO! NO! NO!

There is a fundamental difference between a library, in which a book is legally acquired, and piracy.
First, physical books, like CDs and movies, are covered under the Doctrine of First Sale. Once you buy a physical item, you can do with it as you wish. That means if you read it and then want to give it to someone, or sell it, or burn it, it is yours to do that with. What you do not have the right to do, however, is make a copy of that item and give it away. Because the Doctrine of First gives you the right to do with the physical item what you wish, but does not negate the copyright holder's right to his or her actual words. You own the physical product, not the words on the page.

Second, you cannot "borrow" or "lend" a digital file. You can only make a duplicate of the file. This is why Amazon needs your permission to allow customers to 'borrow' or lend your book, because it isn't an actual lending. It is a heavily coded DRM license. When I loan a friend a physical book, I no longer have the book. When I "loan" a friend a digital file, I have made a copy of that file and I still have the original. If that friend then loans the digital file to someone else, they have made another copy and still have their own.

Third, physical books wear out and need to be replaced. Digital files can be reproduced indefinitely.  With a physical book, if that book is traded a dozen times, eventually it will fall apart. If a digital file, it can be duplicated thousands and thousands of times.

As a creator, I and I alone, have the right to decide what happens to my work. Like I said, I dont go chasing down pirates as I dont have the time to waste on them. But I will NOT sit on my hands and beg them to love me and maybe throw me a donation if they decide I am worthy.  I am not going to submit to the whims of selfish reprobates with inflated senses of entitlement who think authors dont deserve to be compensated for their work.

I am not your slave to entertain you until you decide to feed me.

If I donate money to a charity, that does not by default mean every person who wants my money is entitled to it. If I allow my friend to borrow my car, that does not be default mean every person who wants to borrow my care in entitled to it. If I have sex with my boyfriend, that does not mean I have an obligation to have sex with every man that wants it. Because my body and my car and my money, just like my book, are MINE. Not YOURS. And I am the one who gets to decide what does and does not happen to them.

It is nothing more than selfish entitlement to think it is OK to strip an author of their rights simply because you want something.  It is selfish entitlement to think it is OK to strip an author of their rights simply because you feel like uploading their work to a pirate site. It is selfish entitlement to expect authors to kiss the asses of pirates and hope maybe the exposure will help in the end.

Dont have money? Go to your library, where the books are obtained legally. Amazon has thousands of books available for free, legally. Project Gutenberg has thousands of books available for free, legally. Being poor is not an excuse for piracy. Ive been poor. I never stole from other people. I made due with what I could afford. Nobody is going to die of starvation or disease if they cant read my book. Nobody is going to be able to use my book to overthrow an oppressive regime. Nobody is going to use my book to end human trafficking or war.  I would love to think I am so important that peoples lives depend on reading my book. But that isnt true.  Pirates arent pirating life-saving information. They are pirating Fifty Shades of Grey. Lets not pretend it is some noble cause.

And dont you dare imply that I dont lend a hand to people simply because I recognizes selfish entitlement for what it is. Piracy is not about helping people. Pirates dont give a damn about poverty or war or human suffering. They care about themselves and getting over on the system. They are overcompensating for their own person failures as human beings, and it makes them feel powerful and in control. They are bullies who abuse creators because they lack the ability to create themselves, and then feign victimhood when called out for it.

Pirates are not loveable humans, unless you mean that in the way most sociopaths can be charming in order to manipulate others. Pirates are selfish, self-centered, ego-centric people who dont care whether or not an author makes money. They dont care if the person they are pirating is wealthy or dying from cancer. They dont care if the person is a bestseller or a struggling author who can barely feed her kids. They dont care because they think the only people who matter are themselves.



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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2013, 02:47:31 PM »
A this juncture, I'd like like to say that there's a difference between pirates and scrapers.

Pirates just want to get stuff for free for a variety of reasons, from just not wanting to pay to avoiding DRM related problems (including DRM that hacks your freaking computer or makes the product unusable), to digital product ownership issues that have not been and will not soon be addressed. They're not evil or scary monsters, they're just folks. Whatever harm these people do to creators is negligible, limited mostly to ego.

Scrapers on the other hand are people who take other people's work and then try and turn a profit on it for themselves. They're a kind of pirate, but not the end-all and be-all of pirates and they are both malicious and a detriment to creators because they really are stealing paying customers from them.

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Offline Dolphin

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2013, 03:22:07 PM »
NO! NO! NO!

I don't disagree with you about how copyright law works, in theory. Like many laws practiced in the 18th century, however, copyright has changed over the years, and I don't think that the law has kept pace with the reality. I don't think copyright law as it stands is morally defensible, let alone practicable.

I don't want to focus on the moral dimensions, however, because your ad hominem vitriol about pirates leaves little room for discussion. Instead, I'd like to briefly reemphasize that piracy is a feature of the internetnot a bugand will not be going away. How should we cope with that?

Creative professionals have to compete with free. That's the deal now.

Other creators of digital media are managing to compete and thrive in the age of piracy. Setting aside legal and ethical questions, many of them even believe that piracy benefits them financially. Hugh's "Pay for it here" button is not a badge of shameit's a courteous, realistic solution for everybody involved. It's an acknowledgement of the role that the internet has played in my life and will continue to play in the lives of future generations: that of a public library.

Like it or loathe it, that's how our world works now. Readers can and will find things to read for free if that's their price point. You're right that we haven't figured out a way to pirate charitable donations or sex (yet!), but we're not talking about those things. We're talking about creating digital files that couldn't be made much more pirate-friendly if you tried.

Readers who look for you on pirate sites aren't likely to pay for your book in the first place (I'd be surprised if they even bother to look at other free outlets like Amazon promotions or a brick-and-mortar library), and if you don't want those readers, fine. Do your best to prevent them from reading your work. Cultivate a reputation for yelling at the whippersnappers to get off of your lawn. Other authors who are more comfortable with the mores of internet culture will be more than happy to take those readers in, and I believe that theythe other authorswill benefit at your expense.

The joy of it is that anybody with an internet connection can read Hugh for free, yet he's earning enough money to start buying his own yachts. People go out of their way to pay him for something that they read on a whim, for free.

I don't know about the rest of you, but that blows my mind. It inspires me.

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #22 on: September 04, 2013, 08:20:31 AM »
Quote
I don't think copyright law as it stands is morally defensible, let alone practicable.

Why?

As for pirates, while I don't like it, I'm with Julie:  not going to spend too much time or effort worrying over it. Certainly not going to thank them for it. Now, people who expect to make money on my work, that's a different story. That's taking my share of the sale from me.
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Offline Dolphin

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #23 on: September 04, 2013, 02:17:04 PM »
Why?

As for pirates, while I don't like it, I'm with Julie:  not going to spend too much time or effort worrying over it. Certainly not going to thank them for it. Now, people who expect to make money on my work, that's a different story. That's taking my share of the sale from me.

I've made some points already about practicability. In brief, the case is that there's simply no way for an independent author to defend his or her copyrights effectively.

Some sites will refuse to honor DMCA takedown requests, lawsuits are too expensive or literally impossible to pursue (even retaining a lawyer to write sternly-worded letters is cost-prohibitive to most), and locating and verifying pirated copies of your work is a full-time job once you've achieved any degree of notoriety. Even the MPAA and the RIAA have failed in their efforts to halt piracy. The only hope for creatives without their resources is obscurity, and that's no solution at all.

Shifting to the moral argument, I don't believe that piracy hurts anybody. I don't think there is such a thing as a bad reader.

You're better off with one reader and no revenue than you'd be with no readers and no revenue. That one reader can turn into ten if you do your job properly. Those ten turn into a hundred, a hundred into thousands. If you don't think that those people will pay you a living in return for content, I would submit that you think too little of your own work or the generosity of your public.

Keep in mind that pirates are loyal to their preferred content providers: If they find you on a pirate site, they weren't customers on Amazon in the first place. If your work reaches these readers at all, it will probably have to be through a pirate channel. Further, pirate readers are worth more than nothing to you. They can still promote your work to others, and many of them will choose to pay you afterward if they enjoy your work.

We've also seen examples of pirates taking the initiative to translate works into other languages. How could that be anything but a gift to you? You're reaching people who literally couldn't read your English-only book. Those readers may even signal an untapped audience who you could reach with paid offerings, if you're willing.

Piracy is good for everybody involved, including creators. There's no moral harm in it, because there's no financial harm. You might as well be arguing that it's immoral for someone to use an Amazon affiliate link to sell copies of your book.

There's a growing consensus around this point, and I think it parallels rising acceptance for things like legalization of pot, or even legalization of gay marriage. Caricaturing pirates as Funyun-eating, self-absorbed, basement-dwelling thieves can only work as long as you ignore folks like Hugh Howey, Radiohead, Neil Gaiman, Lawrence Lessig, and the millions of other people whose lives have been enriched by these technologies. Rather than fretting about how pirates are going to destroy your career and take food off of your table, figure out how they can help you become more successful.

If you can't take my word for it, see whether Neil convinces you. See whether you can reconcile the supposed immorality of piracy with his experiences and observations.

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Offline StephenBrennan

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Re: "Free sites" giving away your book --- what can we do?
« Reply #24 on: September 04, 2013, 02:53:11 PM »
NO! NO! NO!

There is a fundamental difference between a library, in which a book is legally acquired, and piracy.
First, physical books, like CDs and movies, are covered under the Doctrine of First Sale. Once you buy a physical item, you can do with it as you wish. That means if you read it and then want to give it to someone, or sell it, or burn it, it is yours to do that with. What you do not have the right to do, however, is make a copy of that item and give it away. Because the Doctrine of First gives you the right to do with the physical item what you wish, but does not negate the copyright holder's right to his or her actual words. You own the physical product, not the words on the page.

Second, you cannot "borrow" or "lend" a digital file. You can only make a duplicate of the file. This is why Amazon needs your permission to allow customers to 'borrow' or lend your book, because it isn't an actual lending. It is a heavily coded DRM license. When I loan a friend a physical book, I no longer have the book. When I "loan" a friend a digital file, I have made a copy of that file and I still have the original. If that friend then loans the digital file to someone else, they have made another copy and still have their own.

Third, physical books wear out and need to be replaced. Digital files can be reproduced indefinitely.  With a physical book, if that book is traded a dozen times, eventually it will fall apart. If a digital file, it can be duplicated thousands and thousands of times.

As a creator, I and I alone, have the right to decide what happens to my work. Like I said, I dont go chasing down pirates as I dont have the time to waste on them. But I will NOT sit on my hands and beg them to love me and maybe throw me a donation if they decide I am worthy.  I am not going to submit to the whims of selfish reprobates with inflated senses of entitlement who think authors dont deserve to be compensated for their work.

I am not your slave to entertain you until you decide to feed me.

If I donate money to a charity, that does not by default mean every person who wants my money is entitled to it. If I allow my friend to borrow my car, that does not be default mean every person who wants to borrow my care in entitled to it. If I have sex with my boyfriend, that does not mean I have an obligation to have sex with every man that wants it. Because my body and my car and my money, just like my book, are MINE. Not YOURS. And I am the one who gets to decide what does and does not happen to them.

It is nothing more than selfish entitlement to think it is OK to strip an author of their rights simply because you want something.  It is selfish entitlement to think it is OK to strip an author of their rights simply because you feel like uploading their work to a pirate site. It is selfish entitlement to expect authors to kiss the *sses of pirates and hope maybe the exposure will help in the end.

Dont have money? Go to your library, where the books are obtained legally. Amazon has thousands of books available for free, legally. Project Gutenberg has thousands of books available for free, legally. Being poor is not an excuse for piracy. Ive been poor. I never stole from other people. I made due with what I could afford. Nobody is going to die of starvation or disease if they cant read my book. Nobody is going to be able to use my book to overthrow an oppressive regime. Nobody is going to use my book to end human trafficking or war.  I would love to think I am so important that peoples lives depend on reading my book. But that isnt true.  Pirates arent pirating life-saving information. They are pirating Fifty Shades of Grey. Lets not pretend it is some noble cause.

And dont you dare imply that I dont lend a hand to people simply because I recognizes selfish entitlement for what it is. Piracy is not about helping people. Pirates dont give a d*mn about poverty or war or human suffering. They care about themselves and getting over on the system. They are overcompensating for their own person failures as human beings, and it makes them feel powerful and in control. They are bullies who abuse creators because they lack the ability to create themselves, and then feign victimhood when called out for it.

Pirates are not loveable humans, unless you mean that in the way most sociopaths can be charming in order to manipulate others. Pirates are selfish, self-centered, ego-centric people who dont care whether or not an author makes money. They dont care if the person they are pirating is wealthy or dying from cancer. They dont care if the person is a bestseller or a struggling author who can barely feed her kids. They dont care because they think the only people who matter are themselves.


Some are just as you describe. I once posted my free KDP giveaway on Reddit, and one guy came out of the woodwork to spit in my face and brag about how he can get any book he wants for free. He actually acted as if he were offended that I'd shown my face in there, trying to make a living from my hard work. So yeah, there are plenty of entitled morons in the pirate community.

That said, I was in high school when I discovered MP3s. I made 2 bucks allowance every first week, and 5 bucks every second. So in my case, the notion that I wouldn't have bought the music anyway was absolutely true. I had higher pursuits (pop and chips) than spending a month's worth of cash on a CD, on which there were 2 or 3 songs that I actually liked. MP3s actually allowed me to cultivate a love of music where I wouldn't have before.

Once when volunteering in the library at the homeless shelter, a down-on-his-luck guy held up his smartphone and proudly showed me all the books he had downloaded from Pirate Bay. I don't know what happened to him since, but I think it's safe to say he wasn't going to buy anything anyway. And I won't begrudge his reading.

Becoming an author gave me more insight into this kind of thing than I had previously. And I do take measures to safeguard my work. That guy on Reddit still stands out in my memory, but I have to assume he doesn't represent the majority.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 03:06:25 PM by StephenBrennan »