Author Topic: A study on piracy  (Read 1887 times)  

Offline David VanDyke

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A study on piracy
« on: September 13, 2017, 12:58:00 PM »
https://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/pirate-ebooks-do-not-influence-sales

Granted, not in the English market and only in one locality, but still interesting.



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Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2017, 02:31:05 PM »
The results don't surprise me. I blame Neil Gaiman for spreading the foolish idea that there's a connection between the pirate and legal markets. There's isn't one anywhere else.






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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2017, 03:53:20 PM »
Cory Doctorow sees both free and pirated books as actually helping his sales. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/aug/18/free-ebooks-cory-doctorow

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2017, 04:09:49 PM »
Quote
While most of the publishers suspected a negative impact of piracy on legal sales, the researchers wrote, we find no evidence of a significant shift in sales because of pirated copies being available online.

I see no evidence from the research that pirating either hurts or helps sales. Pirates don't buy books; that's pretty simple.

And this is purely spurious.

Quote
It is estimated that pirated content costs the publishing industry over $315 million dollars in 2016.

Since they wouldn't have bought the books anyway, the piracy didn't cost the publishing industry a dime.

I consider piracy a good issue to simply ignore.

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Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #4 on: September 13, 2017, 05:57:39 PM »
I thought he was talking about free, not pirated, copies. If I remember right what his publisher was doing wasn't working, he wanted to give copies away to see what would happen, they didn't like it but had nothing to lose, and after giving away a bunch of copies sales spiked. Or am I remembering that wrong?

Google his name plus piracy. It's all there, even him shilling for the I-should-get-your-stuff free lobby.

Cory Doctorow sees both free and pirated books as actually helping his sales. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2009/aug/18/free-ebooks-cory-doctorow

He conflates free and pirated. Giving free books in the paying market confers visibility, garners sell-through. Where's the evidence that pirated books lead to either visibility or sell-through in the paid market? They're two different markets.

I see no evidence from the research that pirating either hurts or helps sales. Pirates don't buy books; that's pretty simple.

And this is purely spurious.

Since they wouldn't have bought the books anyway, the piracy didn't cost the publishing industry a dime.

No one gets anything for free. There's always a cost. So, from a business standpoint, pirates are competitors. No reason to see them otherwise. Lost sales are lost sales.



 

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2017, 06:38:33 PM »
I'll try to find it tomorrow, but there was a really great study on why people pirate (it was done like 5-7 years ago). What it basically showed is that people don't want to "steal", they do so because they are poor.

Sure, you'll always have some outliers (ie. people who can afford their cable package but pirate anyway; either because it's more convenient or because they just don't want to pay), but the vast majority of people pirating are doing it because they simply cannot afford that book, or movie, or cable package. There are millions of people who are in debt up to their ears (or make horrible wages) and literally can't buy anything but the essentials in life.   

I have zero issue if someone is poor stealing my books. None at all. Hell, I'd give it to them if I knew who they were. And I don't view it as a lost sale, rather, I look at it as gaining an ambassador who will tell others to read.

The ones stealing from me (and everyone) are the botters and scammers and fake reviews. They are the true scourge of the content provider, the ones who game the system and muck it up for everyone else.


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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 07:05:16 PM »
Google his name plus piracy. It's all there, even him shilling for the I-should-get-your-stuff free lobby.

He conflates free and pirated. Giving free books in the paying market confers visibility, garners sell-through. Where's the evidence that pirated books lead to either visibility or sell-through in the paid market? They're two different markets.

No one gets anything for free. There's always a cost. So, from a business standpoint, pirates are competitors. No reason to see them otherwise. Lost sales are lost sales.



 
Sales aren't 'lost' if they wouldn't have been sales. They are only 'lost' if the pirates would have bought instead of pirating. I have yet to see any evidence that pirates would have bought the books they pirate, including in the article. I am not losing sales because these people don't buy books.

I don't believe Gaiman's argument that it helps sales, but that doesn't mean I get excited about piracy. It isn't worth wasting my time over. I prefer concentrating on people who are willing to at least occasionally shell out some money for a book.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2017, 07:07:36 PM by JRTomlin »

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 09:04:32 PM »
I'll try to find it tomorrow, but there was a really great study on why people pirate (it was done like 5-7 years ago). What it basically showed is that people don't want to "steal", they do so because they are poor.

Sure, you'll always have some outliers (ie. people who can afford their cable package but pirate anyway; either because it's more convenient or because they just don't want to pay), but the vast majority of people pirating are doing it because they simply cannot afford that book, or movie, or cable package. There are millions of people who are in debt up to their ears (or make horrible wages) and literally can't buy anything but the essentials in life.   

I have zero issue if someone is poor stealing my books. None at all. Hell, I'd give it to them if I knew who they were. And I don't view it as a lost sale, rather, I look at it as gaining an ambassador who will tell others to read.

The ones stealing from me (and everyone) are the botters and scammers and fake reviews. They are the true scourge of the content provider, the ones who game the system and muck it up for everyone else.

I agree with you. I've given away several paperback and ebook copies of Daughter of Havenglade to people who told me they can't afford to buy books.
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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2017, 06:39:22 AM »
I think a better argument than Gaiman's for why we shouldn't worry about piracy is simple: we can't control it.

That's what it comes down to for me.

I get that piracy is frustrating to folks. But chasing pirates yields a terrible ROI.
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Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2017, 08:33:46 AM »
Sales aren't 'lost' if they wouldn't have been sales. They are only 'lost' if the pirates would have bought instead of pirating. I have yet to see any evidence that pirates would have bought the books they pirate, including in the article. I am not losing sales because these people don't buy books.

I don't believe Gaiman's argument that it helps sales, but that doesn't mean I get excited about piracy. It isn't worth wasting my time over. I prefer concentrating on people who are willing to at least occasionally shell out some money for a book.

I get the psychological value of ignoring piracy, so I won't speak to that.

But for the "no lost sales" claim to be true, you must assume that pirates only read books, watch TV and movies, and listen to recorded music because they can get it through pirate channels and that they would cease doing all these things if piracy were eliminated tomorrow. Is that in any sense plausible? No.

A rational analysis would calculate piracy loses using the price sensitivity scale as a proxy: Premium customers who only buy hardbacks, people who wait for the paperback, buyers who wait for sales and bargain bins, used book buyers, and people who'll pay with inconvenience and malware to get their books through pirate sites. Exactly how much the last category costs is open to dispute. It's obviously not one lost premium sale for every pirated copy. But it's not nothing, and it's might be near the discounted end of the scale. But I don't see evidence for either the cheapo (or poverty) hypothesis, so who knows where the line is. Either way, these are lost sales.
 


Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 08:42:43 AM »
I'll try to find it tomorrow, but there was a really great study on why people pirate (it was done like 5-7 years ago). What it basically showed is that people don't want to "steal", they do so because they are poor.

Sure, you'll always have some outliers (ie. people who can afford their cable package but pirate anyway; either because it's more convenient or because they just don't want to pay), but the vast majority of people pirating are doing it because they simply cannot afford that book, or movie, or cable package. There are millions of people who are in debt up to their ears (or make horrible wages) and literally can't buy anything but the essentials in life.   

I have zero issue if someone is poor stealing my books. None at all. Hell, I'd give it to them if I knew who they were. And I don't view it as a lost sale, rather, I look at it as gaining an ambassador who will tell others to read.

The ones stealing from me (and everyone) are the botters and scammers and fake reviews. They are the true scourge of the content provider, the ones who game the system and muck it up for everyone else.

I'd love to see this study. I've never seen any evidence showing that the majority of pirates are poor, and that includes the study cited in the OP. All the evidence says the opposite. People pirate because they have the technology, the free time, and know-how to do it and the right psychological/ideological disposition.

On top of that, the poverty explanation doesn't pass the sniff test. The price of the tech you need to be able to read and watch electronic content--smart phones, internet connections, computers, digital TVs, etc.--vastly exceeds the price of the content itself.




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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 08:57:47 AM »
But I don't see evidence for either the cheapo (or poverty) hypothesis, so who knows where the line is. Either way, these are lost sales.

here is a link to the study (or article on it) that I was referring to. It was just about pirating in poorer countries (forgot that), so limited applicability to this conversation.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/may/03/why-poor-countries-lead-world-piracy

here is the full report in pdf form:
http://piracy.americanassembly.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/MPEE-PDF-1.0.4.pdf


Overall, I don't think it's anywhere near the problem people think it is, and I think it's way smaller for books.

Stephen King's IT (which is top of the charts right now) currently has 202 seeders on pirate's bay. That's nothing for a torrent. That might equate to maybe a couple thousand people grabbing it illegally. A drop in the bucket at best.

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 09:52:15 AM »
I get the psychological value of ignoring piracy, so I won't speak to that.

But for the "no lost sales" claim to be true, you must assume that pirates only read books, watch TV and movies, and listen to recorded music because they can get it through pirate channels and that they would cease doing all these things if piracy were eliminated tomorrow. Is that in any sense plausible? No.

A rational analysis would calculate piracy loses using the price sensitivity scale as a proxy: Premium customers who only buy hardbacks, people who wait for the paperback, buyers who wait for sales and bargain bins, used book buyers, and people who'll pay with inconvenience and malware to get their books through pirate sites. Exactly how much the last category costs is open to dispute. It's obviously not one lost premium sale for every pirated copy. But it's not nothing, and it's might be near the discounted end of the scale. But I don't see evidence for either the cheapo (or poverty) hypothesis, so who knows where the line is. Either way, these are lost sales.
 


First you'd have to show me a 'rational analysis' that claims that piracy can be stopped.

They are not lost sales because pirates do not buy books. If you can show me some study that proves that I'm wrong, I'd be interested in seeing it.

ETA: You pointed out yourself that they do not pirate (in the US anyway) primarily because of poverty. They can afford hardware which negates the poverty argument. That means they pirate, risking malware etc, because they prefer pirating. My argument that pirates never buy books may be an exaggeration but it is at most a slight one. They like pirating and that is, I am pretty convinced, how they get most of their entertainment including tv (GOT episodes being a good case in point) and games. The chances of their buying a book are so negligible as to be not worth calculating.

And this thread is honestly the most thought I've given piracy in a long time. Are my books pirated? Of course, they are. I simply don't worry about it. I don't think I lose sales but if I do it is so few as still not to be worth taking my time and effort to worry about.  ;)
« Last Edit: September 14, 2017, 10:10:38 AM by JRTomlin »

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2017, 10:03:09 AM »
I don't count library reads or used print book sales as lost sales. Others may.

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2017, 10:34:04 AM »
I don't count library reads or used print book sales as lost sales. Others may.

This has more truth than you realize. Is it piracy if I let a friend read the book I bought? Why is it a big deal if someone than seeds it to another person? It's really not. How is it different when people go looking for your book for free at the library? If a thousand people line up to read your book at the library or queue up to seed it the result is essentially the same. The only difference is the semantics.
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Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2017, 11:03:04 AM »
First you'd have to show me a 'rational analysis' that claims that piracy can be stopped.

They are not lost sales because pirates do not buy books. If you can show me some study that proves that I'm wrong, I'd be interested in seeing it.

ETA: You pointed out yourself that they do not pirate (in the US anyway) primarily because of poverty. They can afford hardware which negates the poverty argument. That means they pirate, risking malware etc, because they prefer pirating. My argument that pirates never buy books may be an exaggeration but it is at most a slight one. They like pirating and that is, I am pretty convinced, how they get most of their entertainment including tv (GOT episodes being a good case in point) and games. The chances of their buying a book are so negligible as to be not worth calculating.

And this thread is honestly the most thought I've given piracy in a long time. Are my books pirated? Of course, they are. I simply don't worry about it. I don't think I lose sales but if I do it is so few as still not to be worth taking my time and effort to worry about.  ;)

Like I said, I'm not questioning anyone for not worrying about it. I'm only talking about the business side.

Whether piracy can be stopped is beside the point. Should Walmart quit subtracting shoplifting on its balance sheet because, well, you can't stop everyone from stealing? The claim that some pirates would not be buyers without piracy assumes that they only read because they can get pirated books, which is, needless to say, absurd. People read books for the same reason they've always read books, because they enjoy reading books. This is why a business analysis is right to count piracy as lost sales.

Second, pirated books are not free. Pirated content carries a cost in time, malware, etc., that people pirating have to pay. There's also the hidden social cost of the spread of malware, one that's passed on to the rest of us. Everyone knows that pirate sites are one of the primary vectors of malware, making pirates the viral equivalent of self-infected typhoid Marys, spreading diseases and thus imposing costs on the rest of us.   

I know some people will say I'm moralizing. I'm not. These are facts and logical inferences, not moral judgements on pirates. Piracy is a nuisance crime, not a crime against humanity, and most of us (including me) have broken copyright laws on occasion, even if only unintentionally. It's hard not to nowadays. But--and this is a moral judgement--none of this justifies flagrant piracy.

 

Offline WHDean

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2017, 11:12:05 AM »
This has more truth than you realize. Is it piracy if I let a friend read the book I bought? Why is it a big deal if someone than seeds it to another person? It's really not. How is it different when people go looking for your book for free at the library? If a thousand people line up to read your book at the library or queue up to seed it the result is essentially the same. The only difference is the semantics.

I know we can't do much about piracy, but I've chosen to do two things: (1) I will not pay for the books of people who rationalize piracy. I will pirate their books instead. Neil Gaiman will never see a cent from me. (2) I tell people about policy 1 whenever the opportunity arises, especially those who rationalize piracy. What anyone else chooses to do with the information is their business.


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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2017, 11:23:12 AM »
Second, pirated books are not free. Pirated content carries a cost in time, malware, etc.,

Everyone knows that pirate sites are one of the primary vectors of malware, making pirates the viral equivalent of self-infected typhoid Marys, spreading diseases and thus imposing costs on the rest of us.   

Honestly, downloading a file off random generic internet sites is absolutely crazy for this reason. There are two "safe" places to get pirated content, the first is usenet and the second (to a far far lesser degree) is bit torrent. And I suppose for digital content a third would be kodi.

hehe if you guys really want to worry about pirating, for anyone on usenet you can look up the ebook group... (tens, maybe hundreds, of) THOUSANDS of ebooks posted every month. Bit Torrent, which most people use, is way less trafficked for ebooks.   

if you want to see if you're being pirated on usenet you can type the name of your book here:

https://www.binsearch.info/

if something comes up, then someone has posted your book at some point.

But I genuinely believe that it's a tiny fraction of book readers pirating... different story for tv shows obviously.

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2017, 12:07:29 PM »
I know we can't do much about piracy, but I've chosen to do two things: (1) I will not pay for the books of people who rationalize piracy. I will pirate their books instead. Neil Gaiman will never see a cent from me. (2) I tell people about policy 1 whenever the opportunity arises, especially those who rationalize piracy. What anyone else chooses to do with the information is their business.

Wait...you are saying piracy is REALLY bad but you will pirate books? You do know it's a crime, right? And a rather serious one if they want to sink their teeth into you. I don't think it really helps your case to say "I think piracy is bad (but I do it 'for my own reasons'.)  :'(
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Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2017, 12:21:22 PM »
This has more truth than you realize. Is it piracy if I let a friend read the book I bought? Why is it a big deal if someone than seeds it to another person? It's really not. How is it different when people go looking for your book for free at the library? If a thousand people line up to read your book at the library or queue up to seed it the result is essentially the same. The only difference is the semantics.

I'm confused.

Are you saying that passing a purchased book on to a friend, who passes it on, etc. or borrowing (along with many others) from the library is the same as acquiring pirated books vs buying them legitimately?

If so, I disagree.

The pirate does not have the author's permission to freely distribute and is usually making unauthorized copies. The purchaser/downloader of pirated material who does so knowingly is also in the wrong.

The library DOES have permission to share the work; they've paid somehow for the book and as long as they are controlling the lending in accordance with that contract, that's fine.

For physical books, there's no realistic prohibition to a person giving a book they've read to a friend. There's often a statement about not copying it, and usually a warning about 'if you bought it without a cover', but nothing that says that I'm not ever allowed to share or sell or donate the hundreds of physical books I have in my house.

Ebooks, though . . . that's a bit trickier. If I have a book that I want to give to a friend and I do so and then delete it from all of my devices and any storage accounts I have, I've kind of done the same thing as giving my copy of a paper book. I suspect most who share ebooks, however, don't go to that trouble.

Which is what makes it a bit problematic: it is possible to share the book and still keep it. On balance, I think it's wrong to do that. Even DRM free books usually have something in the front matter that says that it is not permitted to make copies of the file or distribute it.

Bottom line: a person who produces intellectual property is entitled to payment. I buy ebooks. I borrow them from the library. Pre-kindle, I freely shared paper books with friends and family -- somebody paid for them in the first place. I have, on occasion, used the personal lending feature on Kindle. But I don't go to pirate sites to find stuff to read and if someone tries to share a pirated book with me, I say 'no, thank you.' I feel the same way about music -- both recorded and sheet music. If I want to listen to it, or learn to play it, I make sure I have a legitimate copy. I have left music groups where the SOP was to buy one copy of a piece of music and then make photocopies in the numbers required.

Anyway, just my opinion. :)

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2017, 12:22:48 PM »
I know we can't do much about piracy, but I've chosen to do two things: (1) I will not pay for the books of people who rationalize piracy. I will pirate their books instead. Neil Gaiman will never see a cent from me. (2) I tell people about policy 1 whenever the opportunity arises, especially those who rationalize piracy. What anyone else chooses to do with the information is their business.



I don't understand this position at all. If I feel like a person is misguided, I might be inclined to not bother to purchase their books. But it seems weird to go to the trouble to get them illegally just to somehow stick it to them. Which . . . they won't even know you did, anyway, so, what's it achieve?

whatever. :)

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2017, 12:28:43 PM »
I'm confused.

Are you saying that passing a purchased book on to a friend, who passes it on, etc. or borrowing (along with many others) from the library is the same as acquiring pirated books vs buying them legitimately?

If so, I disagree.

The pirate does not have the author's permission to freely distribute and is usually making unauthorized copies. The purchaser/downloader of pirated material who does so knowingly is also in the wrong.

The library DOES have permission to share the work; they've paid somehow for the book and as long as they are controlling the lending in accordance with that contract, that's fine.

For physical books, there's no realistic prohibition to a person giving a book they've read to a friend. There's often a statement about not copying it, and usually a warning about 'if you bought it without a cover', but nothing that says that I'm not ever allowed to share or sell or donate the hundreds of physical books I have in my house.

Ebooks, though . . . that's a bit trickier. If I have a book that I want to give to a friend and I do so and then delete it from all of my devices and any storage accounts I have, I've kind of done the same thing as giving my copy of a paper book. I suspect most who share ebooks, however, don't go to that trouble.

Which is what makes it a bit problematic: it is possible to share the book and still keep it. On balance, I think it's wrong to do that. Even DRM free books usually have something in the front matter that says that it is not permitted to make copies of the file or distribute it.

Bottom line: a person who produces intellectual property is entitled to payment. I buy ebooks. I borrow them from the library. Pre-kindle, I freely shared paper books with friends and family -- somebody paid for them in the first place. I have, on occasion, used the personal lending feature on Kindle. But I don't go to pirate sites to find stuff to read and if someone tries to share a pirated book with me, I say 'no, thank you.' I feel the same way about music -- both recorded and sheet music. If I want to listen to it, or learn to play it, I make sure I have a legitimate copy. I have left music groups where the SOP was to buy one copy of a piece of music and then make photocopies in the numbers required.

Anyway, just my opinion. :)

You might have misunderstood. People can buy ebooks and then seed them to others. Just like I can buy Harry Potter and loan it to every single person I know.
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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2017, 12:49:18 PM »
Wait...you are saying piracy is REALLY bad but you will pirate books? You do know it's a crime, right? And a rather serious one if they want to sink their teeth into you. I don't think it really helps your case to say "I think piracy is bad (but I do it 'for my own reasons'.)  :'(

I don't understand this position at all. If I feel like a person is misguided, I might be inclined to not bother to purchase their books. But it seems weird to go to the trouble to get them illegally just to somehow stick it to them. Which . . . they won't even know you did, anyway, so, what's it achieve?

whatever. :)

The case I made about the cost of piracy stands or falls on its merits.

My policy, on the other hand, is my own and it's a moral choice. I figure if people who benefit from the system (or like Gaiman have benefitted greatly from it already) won't defend it, then I have no moral obligation to give them the benefit of it, especially when pirates get to pass on the externalities of their activities (i.e., malware) onto the rest of us. Basically, people who benefit the system and attack it are free riders. So I want to monetize the cost of their advocacy and pass it on to them.

What's the cost to me they're creating? It dovetails with the legality of me pirating while being against piracy. Laws are only as good as their social backing. So the fewer the number of people offering justifications for piracy, the less socially acceptable it is. And the less acceptable, the fewer people doing it. If a lot of people followed my policy, a lot fewer people who benefit from the system would be attacking it. 

To answer Ann's specific question, I'm not going out of my way to stick it to anyone. Like Santa Claus, I'm keeping a pro-piracy list. Gaiman's on it for life. Others are welcome to join, but I'd prefer it if they saw where their interests lie and stay off it.

By the way, I called my policy a moral one because it belongs to realm of values. I don't claim that it's the moral thing to do.

   

Online Becca Mills

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2017, 02:02:46 PM »
I figure if people who benefit from the system (or like Gaiman have benefitted greatly from it already) won't defend it, then I have no moral obligation to give them the benefit of it, especially when pirates get to pass on the externalities of their activities (i.e., malware) onto the rest of us. Basically, people who benefit the system and attack it are free riders. So I want to monetize the cost of their advocacy and pass it on to them.

What's the cost to me they're creating? It dovetails with the legality of me pirating while being against piracy. Laws are only as good as their social backing. So the fewer the number of people offering justifications for piracy, the less socially acceptable it is. And the less acceptable, the fewer people doing it. If a lot of people followed my policy, a lot fewer people who benefit from the system would be attacking it. 

But ... wouldn't it be better to deny people like Gaiman the benefit of the system they're (supposedly) abusing by just not reading their work at all? If you pirate their work, aren't you supporting the very sites that enable the piracy system to keep operating? I mean, a desire for ad revenue is what drives the creation of torrent sites, isn't it?

Online Seneca42

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Re: A study on piracy
« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2017, 02:13:23 PM »
I mean, a desire for ad revenue is what drives the creation of torrent sites, isn't it?

hehe that's a tricky subject  :P

What drives a lot of pirates (the ones ripping and posting the content for others to download) is a "sticking it to the man" mentality.  They are anarchists at heart and generally despise the capitalist world we live in and seek to undermine it. Sort of a Robinhood mentality.

That said, some outfits seek to actually profit from it in some fashion or another (those web sites you see when you google your book, they are scams looking to profit somehow). But most of the pirates aren't making anything. They just like saying F U to capitalism (and associated cable companies, and movie studios, and game producers, etc.). 

That's why you can't really stop pirating, because it's not a profit driven endeavor. It's an ideological one, which means you squash one and 10 more pop up to replace them.