Theft By Any Other Name…

I’m a writer. That’s no secret; I’ve been pimping my stuff (see the little book cover images to the left) for the last couple of years. I’ve put up sample chapters of each book online, a sort of virtual flip-through since you can’t hold the book in your hand and look through it. Soon there will be a third, and another sample chapter.

That was my choice.

You will note, however, that I did not place the entire text of either book online. Why not? Because as much as writing is not about the money (face it, there’s very little money to be made unless you get lucky), if you want to read the book, you either need to suck up to me in a major way, or buy it.

No, it’s really not about the money. But it takes roughly a year, sometimes a little longer, to take those books from idea to final manuscript, a year of work without pay. So sure, I want people to buy the book. It’s just the same as anyone else who works—getting paid for the effort is generally a nice thing.

I imagine it’s not much different for a musician. They work their collective asses off, create a product, put it out there for the public to hear, and hope that people buy it.

Buy it, folks. Not stick it online to share with a million other people.

“But it’s art. Art is not about the money!”
“I paid for the CD. I can do with it what I want.”
“What’s the difference between file sharing and just burning copies for my friends?”

Honestly, if you have to ask those questions, your momma didn’t raise you right.

Okay, you bought the CD. Paid full price even. So make yourself a copy, that’s fine. A copy is a good idea; stick the original away to keep it safe. I had a bunch of CDs stolen out of my car; most of them were copies, so I didn’t lose much. I understand that. Make a copy for a friend. I can live with that, too.

But when you place someone else’s work online, you’re potentially sharing that work with millions of other people. Literally millions. And they didn’t get a say in it.

You’re not hurting the music companies, or book publishers, or even the distributors, really. But you’re killing the people who rely on royalties.

Put it into perspective. When my first book, Charybdis, came out, the entire text wound up online. Every freaking word. Roughly 25,000 people downloaded it, and who knows how many sat there and just read it. Twenty five thousand downloads.

At royalty rates that equaled about $4.00 per book, had those been purchases, I would have earned enough money to get us out of debt, with a little left over.

Even if only half of those had been purchases, it would have literally changed my life. And I’ll never know how many of those downloads were then shared with other people.

While I’m partially thrilled that so many people have copies of my book, I’m still mad as hell that I was ripped off.

Yeah, I said it. You who placed my book online without my permission, and those of you who downloaded it ripped me off.

Every time you take someone else’s work, place it online and “share” it with others, without the express consent of the copyright owner, you are stealing.

I know next to nothing about the RIAA or DCMA or whoever they are, I don’t care who they are and what they do, I don’t care if you’re for them or against them, or feel like because of their policies you deserve to swap music and text files to which you don’t own copyright. I do care that no matter what, when you do it, you’re taking money out of the wallets and pockets of the people who created that work.

And really, if you don’t get that, there is something wrong with you.
And if you’re one of the people who d/l’d my book, you owe me $4.00.

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