Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Rant About e-book Piracy!!..

Tori & I caught a quick flight over to the Island because I needed a little break from it all and God knows I’ve been neglecting my own blogspot lately. I have books piled up to read and review and Tori has this stalker in her closet and she is crabbing about that, dust and barnacles everywhere. Sad, I tell you, sad... And, I have this ever present refrigerator issue that is a major pain in my ass because it keeps freezing stuff that shouldn’t be frozen and stuff that should be frozen isn’t, and then there is the sour milk. Essentially the damn thing needs replacing and I don’t feel like spending the fortune it costs to buy a new one. I know, I’m rambling, the guys are looking at me, rolling their eyes, and now are turning the other way. They know I’m about to embark on a rant because that is what I do when I get like this.

Too. Bad..

Start Rant..

So here is the thing. The thing is not too long ago an author that I got to know through reading and enjoying her books, then linking with online was celebrating the publication of a brand spanking new e-book. She was very excited about the release of this novel as she had intellectualized and plotted it for a long time, and then took countless hours to pen the story. Within an hour of it’s release it turned up on a e-book piracy site free for the taking. Not only that, four more books that were released by other authors on the same day appeared there as well.

What. The. Hell??

I guess I’ve had my head in the sand or am just extremely uneducated regarding the lack of respect for an author’s work that is shown by individuals that patronize these sites because I had no idea. None. There are literally thousands of books free for the taking on the one site that I was shown alone.

Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos blog regularly hosts giveaways of e-books in support of authors. One of the contest rules at her blog is:

  • If you win, please respect the author’s intellectual property and don’t make copies of the ebook for anyone else.

Well HELLO!! Intellectual. Property.

Authors pour their imaginative heart and soul into their books which take countless hours to write. Stealing their stories isn’t just theft, it is a violation, and those involved in piracy or patronizing these sites deserve nothing but contempt. We all know how bad the economy is and Publishing Houses will publish fewer and fewer books as demand decreases because people are pirating books! Further, the majority of authors don't make enough money through their writing to be able to put food on the table and meet the bills so they hold down full or part-time jobs in addition crafting their stories.

A quote from the December 24, 2009, column “E-Book Piracy: The Publishing Industry’s Next Epic Saga” from NETWORKWORLD states:

"We are now seeing large volumes of e-books being pirated on everything from file-sharing networks to Websites," says Ed McCoyd of the Association of American Publishers, a trade organization representing major U.S. book publishers. The year-to-year percentage growth of available e-book titles is unknown, McCoyd says. Other publishers, such as Hachette Book Group, say that e-book piracy has grown "exponentially" over the past year.”
© Tom Spring, PC World

Author J.K. Rowling does not allow her “Harry Potter” series to be released in e-book format because of fears of piracy. However, it doesn’t matter because hackers scan the books page for page, convert the file and offer the books as a download. Once the pirate site is established it is extremely hard to eradicate.

We all know this problem isn’t specific to books, the internet is riddled with torrents that offer music, movie, software and computer games free for the taking. Interestingly, the son of one of my colleagues is a gamer and was caught by the all seeing eye of Microsoft using pirated games on his X-Box system. Microsoft reached out within minutes, touched, and nuked his system. Too bad pirated books weren’t as easy to trace, thereby reaching out, touching and nuking the offender’s e-reader.

What can one person do to help our authors?
  • Don’t patronize piracy websites. 
  • Be careful, make sure the site you are downloading your e-books from is legitimate. 
  • If you are a blogger and haven’t already grab the button below and post it on your site. 
  • Non-bloggers and bloggers alike can click on the button which will take you to an online petition that was established in 2006 to combat e-book piracy.

If we prolific readers don't support our Authors who will??


Opinions? Comments?

End Rant....

Ms.M. Is arriving on the Island tomorrow so be sure and stop by for a good time. ;)

Off to read my book, now, that I purchased...

Oh and Chris - I need a new refrigerator too. She just got a new one, I am very jealous. grumble, grumble..


Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how crushed a writer must be to find out their hard work is being pirated.
I don't know what could be done about it, but I like that option with the gamers to yank out pirated games. Perhaps they can come up with something like that for books and music etc.
Good post Lea.


Lea said...

Thanks Ms. M...

This is a horrific situation and unfortunately it is proliferating which speaks to the lack of general respect for the arts out there. Or the general attitude that taking something for free off a torrent or pirate site isn't "stealing", which is disgusting.

I hope they do find a way to trace e-books as the technology improves.


Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble grasping what the difference is between this and checking a book out of a public library.

Chris said...

Lea: Yeah, publishers and authors have to spend way too much time requesting that stuff be moved from pirate sites. :(

Mary G said...

Great post Lea
Too bad the law has not kept up with technology. Stealing is stealing. It is NOT like checking the book out of the library. The library bought the book and is in the business of lending it out. Most authors don't even mind used books stores reselling their books. Someone else selling YOUR property is another matter.

Lea said...

Dear Anonymous:

The difference is that Public Libraries purchase paperback and audio books through grants and fundraising to lend out to patrons.

Those books are then returned to the Library that OWNS the reading material to be lent to the next person. Libraries also have lists of people who want popular books to be shared.

I think I can safely argue that taking an e-book from a pirate site and downloading it onto a computer and e-reader to keep is not the same thing, at all.

Blanche said...

It's just awful and I also can't imagine what it must be like for an author to work so hard and then have this happen! Makes me very very angry!
I'm adding the button to my blog! Great post Lea!!

beth kery said...

Hi Lea,

Great Post! :) As an author, I can't tell you how much I appreciate the awareness and support among readers about this issue. Thanks.

Anon--There is a large difference b/t pirating and the library system. The library buys the book, first of all. We've all seen the state of library books. It's a physical entity which wears quickly and must be replaced. E-books, on the other hand, never age, can be proliferated ad infinitum on an exponential basis with each new person who thinks it's okay to copy it.

It's amazing how ebook pirating and thievery can be rationalized, though. In fact, isn't the correct analogy not between checking out a book at the library and ebook pirating but walking into a bookstore, buying a book, and then reproducing the book a hundred times and ebook pirating? Buying the original book does not give you the rights to reproduce and distribute that book. It is copyrighted material. You buy a book at a bookstore. That doesn't give you the right to go back to that store and steal the book 99 times because you bought it once.

I believe in other countries, the government does do some sort of royalty at libraries for the number of times books are checked out. While we don't do this in the U.S., I still see the library system and ebook pirating as being drastically different.

Carolyn Crane said...

Thanks for this, Lea. Piracy really hurts authors, much as people like Anon want to convince themselves it doesn't.

Mary G said...

I've never heard it described that way Beth. It's perfect analogy that can't be argued against finally.

Hales said...

Lea~Great topic. Publishers and authors are trying to find ways to protect their work. I haven't found my work on a site yet. Hell I don't even know how and my book just went out last week.

I dislike how people feel entitled to have things that don't belong to them. I'll be looking for new posts gonna add the piracy link to my myspace, facebook and website!

Tracy said...

Great post Lea, thank you.

I don't understand how these file share places get away with keeping the uploaded files on their sites. You'd think they'd have rules about copyrighted info. Besides that there should be a way to track who's doing this, right? Ug, frustrating for the authors!

Unknown said...

Hi Lea

I've said this time and time again, books are some of the least expensive forms of entertainment your money can buy.

Libraries are a great source if you don't want or can't spend your hard earned cash on a book. They spend so you don't have to. This is a legal way to borrow a book and library cards are free.

If you want to try an author for free: B & N, Borders, Amazon, Harper Collins (as well as many of the other book publishers) offer free ebooks in PFD format, Kindle format (Amazon offers a free Kindle app for your computer), and Nook format (B & N offers a free Nook app for your computer). I downloaded FIVE free ebooks this week from some of my favorite (and popular) authors and a couple I wanted to try. All legal, all free for the consumer.

Okay, ebooks are inexpensive, so please support authors. If we don't, the stories we enjoy will become fewer and further between.
Sorry, this is a pet peeve for me.

Dottie :)

Unknown said...

I also have to add that libraries pay more for the books they purchase than the average consumer. They do this so their patrons can read books and the publishers are somewhat compensated for allowing multiple readers. (not much, by the way, but a little) Library funding has decreased over the past few years, just like everything else. We need to support them as well. I donated to our local library both funds and books, and they always appreciate it. This is why library lending is drastically different from book piracy.

Dottie :)

Regina Quentin said...

This type of illegal/unethical/jerk-ish behavior just makes me so mad! It takes artists time, thought, tears, time, imagination and TIME to create their work. I wish others would respect that instead of stealing from them. Ugh, that has to hurt!

Fedora said...

Great post, Lea, and excellent response to Anonymous. Sadly people have been using technology to support their greed and rationalizing the damage away by how easy it is to commit the crime.

This is one of those situations where I mourn the loss of shame as a behavioral modification tool...

Jessica said...

Well Lea, from a non-writer, great post. I "BUY" e-books from different sources, e-publishers, Amazon etc. I would never share one with anyone! I may leave my computer to my son in my will, if it's still working that is, but other than that I don't think it's right to steal. And taking something is not yours and you didn't pay for is stealing!

This is the way that writers feed their families, pay bills, keep a roof over their heads, whatever. I wonder how these thieves would feel if someone came along and took their paycheck after a hard weeks work! Don't think it would fly, do you?

ElaineG said...

I can't understand why someone would want to STEAL anything, much less an e-book. I scrimp and save, and BUY a ton of e-books every month...they are my addiction. Not once have I ever thought to try to get one for free. I am only a reader, but I think e-book piracy hurts us too. If authors are constantly being robbed of their hard-earned money, well, it is only a matter of time before they decide it isn't worth it...and that would make me incredibly sad. I have come to rely on the ease of e-books and I can't imagine my life without them. I hope there is a way for authors to get this ridiculous trend to stop. Thieves are thieves, no matter that they "acquire" their stolen property "free on-line".....jackasses, the lot of them!

Blodeuedd said...

I had no idea that Rowling had done that, but I sure get why cos this is everywhere.

No piracy for me, bad pirates! I couldn't even do it if I was a bad girl though, I have my free ebooks that I would love to read...but wont since e-books and me, yeah

Smokinhotbooks said...

I sometimes hold ebook contests over at my bloggy, I'll make sure to amend my contest rules (good idea Chris). Until yesterday, I *naively* didn't even think that someone could potentially win an ebook on my site and then share it on a pirate site. An author tweeted about this yesterday.

Lea said...

Hi Everyone:

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. This is an issue dear to my heart and I'm grateful to see so many like minded readers take time to express their views. I'm know the authors to as well.

Thanks again


s7anna said...

I think that e-piracy is just WRONG! I don't know how anyone can justify downloading pirated books...I've read some pretty bizarre rationales as to why it's okay to illegally ebooks... I simply don't understand these would any of them like it if they were in the authors shoes? They'd be crying foul in that situation but since it doesn't affect's easy for them to justify their deviant behaviour.

Mary Anne Graham said...

A few Christmas seasons back, a thief broke into my hubby's van and stole my present. My husband and I both felt violated for different reasons.

Not too long after I published my first indie book, I ran into a site giving away pirated copies. Since then, I've (sadly) encountered a number of them where my books are out there - free to steal.

The Internet makes it anonymous and I'm sure that most of the folks who steal books from piracy sites, would never break into a car or a house.

But the theft of work that contains so much of my thoughts, my ideas, my visions - so much of ME - seems like a much bigger violation than the theft of something I can replace with dollars.

When someone steals an author's work, they steal his or her vision and that diminishes everyone.

Juliana Stone said...

Hey Lea, late to this post but great blog...unfortuneatly epiracy is a huge issue. I send emails at least once a week to my publisher with links to illegal downloads...and Ms. Kery is correct...checking a book from the library is not the same. Neither is lending a book to a friend to read...but when you make a book available for download thousands of times over then we have a problem.

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