Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Say No...To Internet Piracy

I’m about to confess a secret I’ve held for a very long time. I’m sure it will change the way some people view me, but you must know this happened a very long time ago. I was a young, stupid, broke college student. And, at the time, everyone was doing it. It was the “in” thing.

Okay. Here it goes.

I was a Napster user.

No, not the legitimate Napster that requires a $60 per year membership. I was one of those early, no good, file-sharing, music-stealing Napster users.

(Pausing for the cyber flogging I so richly deserve).

The fact that I used sites like Napster years ago has created an overwhelming feeling of hypocrisy as I now stand in self-righteous indignation against the growing number of piracy sites that are popping everywhere with tons of books available for free downloads.

Back in those college days, I justified my actions by convincing myself that those music artists had millions. Would my one, two, or two hundred downloads really hurt their bottom line? Nah. Since publishing my first book, I know first-hand how people grossly (and I do mean grossly) overestimate how much a new author is paid. I can imagine some young struggling college student falling prey to the same mindset I did, thinking one, two, two hundred downloaded novels won’t really hurt an author. But it does. It so, so does.

As much as I dislike a hypocrite, I must wear that hat these days and stand up against illegal downloads. Writing is a hard job. And for many of the writers I know personally, a couple thousand illegally downloaded novels would not only hurt their bottom line, it could be detrimental. If something isn’t done soon, I fear some writers will not be able to afford to continue in this career.

Even though it’s still a problem, the music industry was able to curb a lot of the illegal downloads of music. Until the publishing industry is able to come up with a system to fight piracy, I can only plea with those who do engage in this activity. If you’re ever tempted to download a novel, take my advice: Don’t. You don’t want to suffer the guilt I suffer. Not to mention putting out of business the same authors who's work you're stealing. It’s just not worth it.


Phyllis Bourne said...

When I was in college, I... Well, never mind.

Hey, you're young, broke, worn out from studying and having too much dang fun to care about downloading a few songs.

Piracy? Until publishers go after a owner or two of one of those sites for royalties, it will continue to be a problem.

Shauna Roberts said...

I blame the whole "information wants to be free" mindset, which afflicts lots of people, not just college students (who at least have the excuse of being broke and generally ignorant of copyright laws), these days.

Newspaper reporters are losing their jobs because people are getting their news from Internet sites reprinting or summarizing stories rather than buying newspapers and supporting the cost of gathering that news. Once papers go under and take the remaining reporters with them, we'll be left with Internet rumors and commentary to know what's happening in the world.

We also need a system like Europe's, in which, I believe, authors get royalties when their books are checked out of the library.

Liane Spicer said...

I've never downloaded music, but that might be partly because I was scared to import computer viruses as well. [I had a colleague at one job who did it on her work computer all the time. By all the time I mean constantly, even overnight. Her machine crashed on an almost weekly basis.] I have bought bootleg DVDs a few times; they're available practically on every corner here. I've stopped, and now get my movies through Amazon. Stealing is stealing, no matter what form it takes.

There are so many people who would never think of picking up a grape in the supermarket and popping it into their mouths, but who think nothing of illegally downloading music and software.

I don't get the 'information wants to be free' business. Maybe it would make sense to me if groceries, mortgages and medical care wanted to be free too.