I don’t watch much TV but I do like to keep up with the latest films. When I say latest, I mean, I put them on my Netflix DVD list and a few months later they’re released, and I eventually receive them. I pop them into my player and what I see first is a stern warning from the FBI: “The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” Of course, their very fine seal and badge also accompany the page, which is followed by the statement, “Piracy is not a victimless crime” put there by the National Intellectual Property Center, who have a web page recounting how piracy affects the economy.
Why isn’t that reproduced on the copyright page of every book? Can they not send out a meme we could all download to use?
Nominated for a RONE Award, I attended the very first InD’Tale conference in Las Vegas, which was my very first conference as well. There, I sat in on a panel by a well-known, NYT best-selling, award-winning author. She let it be known that she earned upwards of 400k a year. I’ll never forget her advice to us—not to worry about piracy, see it as free promotion.
Whether you’re earning 39 cents through a publisher ebook, or a higher percentage through being self-published, those little pennies can add up. Maybe it’s not going to make you 400K; in fact, I personally don’t care about the money--it's probably a small amount. What I care about is that someone else has taken control of my book, is publishing it where they please, or handing it out. Some are free, some are not. Intellectual Property is just that—property, owned by someone. It’s true that most of the piracy sites are not, in any case, giving away books; they’re phishing for credit card details and using our books as the bait. I believe authors rarely get reviews from the readers who help perpetrate these crimes, and they are presumably not readers who might become lifelong fans. The books they receive are often badly formatted through whatever method the pirate has used. Plus, there are now enough free books and discounted books to keep anyone reading for a lifetime without patronizing a piracy site.
Reader or author, let me know what you think: Publicity or Piracy?
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