As an independent author, I am reminded of garage bands in the sixties through the eighties, strumming and banging away…hoping to be that next great band.
That was all before internet.
That was before you could download any song out there on your computer.
Musicians went through an angry phase, where they seriously resented the pirating and file sharing of music. There were lawsuits all over the place. Napster, developed by John and Shawn Fanning, released initially in 1999, in particular, became the target of a serious lawsuit. The downloading of MP3s was credited for ushering in the downfall of the album era. The bottom line is: NO royalties were ever paid the artists.
Along with the accusations that Napster was hurting the sales of the record industry, there were those who felt just the opposite that file trading on Napster actually stimulated, rather than hurt, sales.
I won’t get into the long and sordid legal complications of that suit or the finances of how Napster still made off with a small fortune despite bankruptcy, I only brought it up to speak about book pirating.
Though there are many law suits that have come and gone concerning copyright infringement since that time, most musicians will agree that they now make their money off of tours and venues where they perform live. Movies and games, as well, are pirated on the web daily by many.
And so are books.
Problem is: we can’t have book concerts or fill box office theaters with what we are producing.
Are we producing Art for Art’s Sake?
I am not trying to make a living writing, but I know many career authors who are.
When I first put my book out there, I had it on a free site for two weeks. It got thousands of downloads and I felt special…only to discover twenty, or more, sites selling my book. I asked them all to take it down and they all did, with the exception of one, a torrents site. It took threat of legal action to get it down. At that time, there was contact info on the site, but that has been removed.
Today, I revisited that site, and guess what? My book is right back up there. Also, it has been contributed on the site by several different sources that you can pick from. These torrents sites don’t have any contact info on them…you simply put the title that you want in the search bar, and download the book, voila! That simple. There is no membership required, no fees, and no money changing hands.
Through one site I found five more that offer my book for free.
There is NO way to contact them. They are elusive.
They are put up by a bunch of geeks and nerds who do it for the joy of being able to prove that they can. They are hackers and they are running rampant.
About.com actually has a page teaching people how to use the torrents sites. It posts the following disclaimer:
Disclaimer and legal warning for new torrent users: About.com does not condone illegal sharing of copyrighted material. While P2P file sharing technology is completely legal, many of the files traded through P2P are indeed copyrighted. Uploading these copyrighted files puts you at risk of a civil lawsuit in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK. While these lawsuits are often class-action suits, filed against groups of users who blatantly copy and distribute copyrighted materials, some lawsuits are harshly targeted at making examples of individual downloaders. These P2P civil lawsuits are very real, and whether or not they are successful, they are extreme financial and emotional burdens on the defendant.
ISP warning: your ISP may choose to release logs of your downloading/uploading activity to potential copyright plaintiffs. The more megabytes you download, the more you risk being sued by copyright protection groups.
•Piracy IS going on — and it’s much bigger than you.
Music. Movies. Television shows. Newspapers. Magazines. Games. And books. All are pirated, content being aggregated and sold or given away without the content creators and producers receiving a dime. One source says media piracy is costing the US economy $58 billion in losses every year.
Is it to much to expect the big retailers like Amazon, B&N, smashwords, Kobo and others, companies with a lot more money than me, to come crashing down on their heads? Not a lucid dream, huh?
Think you are immune? You are not.
I put in over thirty titles of author friend’s books, traditionally published, self-published. You are all there for me at the push of a key. All in .pdf format, but a slightly computer savvy person could convert to .mobi or .epub in minutes. Apparently, if you are published on Amazon in digital, you are published on this torrents site.
The only books I could not find were those of an author friend who only publishes in paperback or hard copy, no digital.
This is particularly disheartening since I have sold one (1) copy of my paperback to hundreds of my digital…but could it have been more? There must be a huge audience for these torrents sites to go through so much effort…if it is any effort. Seems they have it down to a master science.
Should I care?
I mean, what can we do?…Besides relax and hope we have established a reader audience willing to pay for our work. I have acquaintances and family (many who are wealthy) who boast that they don’t pay for fiction books. Rather than pay what they would tip the valet or the pizza delivery guy, they choose to, “Beat the system.”
Do you think there will come a time when NOBODY pays for fiction?