12 January 2010

two piracy posts in a day?

Apparently... Grinning... First, there is a wonderful article by the New York Times. I'm usually at odds with them over the industry, but they really pleased and surprised me with this article! This is solid journalism...balanced, realistic, and timely. Kudos to the Times!

Oh, and don't forget to answer their questions at this link. I'll even share what I answered their questions to start off the conversation.

1. I would absolutely pay to read online content like your news stories. I would be willing to pay three-quarters of the paper cost of the newspaper, as a subscription if I use it often or the single day amount (which would get me unlimited read of that day’s news) to check out articles others tell me about.

Why that amount? I know that the costs of producing the content, including paying editors and journalists, as well as the costs of maintaining the site, are still there. What you’re missing are the costs of printing, shipping, and returns…as well as physical archiving in a warehouse setting. So, 25% reduction in print price is reasonable to me.

2. Absolutely not. The government is involved enough in spin doctoring. No further hold on the American media should be allowed, IMO. The government’s only involvement should be in prosecuting digital infringement, as they would for physical goods that are pirated or faked.

3. Anytime there is a heavy reliance on ad money, there is the possibility of interference in the journalistic medium. What do I mean by that? If your largest advertiser has a certain political agenda and threatens to remove the ad income the newspaper depends on, will the newspaper bite the bullet and tell them where to get off or knuckle under? I’d like to say the former, but I’ve seen the latter. For that reason, I absolutely feel a micropay system is infinitely better than high reliance on advertising dollars.

What is the web’s impact on creativity? As an author, I am seeing midlist authors and indie authors refused new contracts, because books that have downloaded illegally tens of thousands of times (more than enough to save their contracts, if they had sold instead of pirated) didn’t sell enough to keep the author on tap. I’m seeing authors giving up writing, because they are tired of making a pittance while their books are pirated across the globe, and they are tired of fighting pirates as a part-time or full-time endeavor and seeing the books show up again within 48 hours, often from the same pirate that the sites refuse to remove. Worse…seeing the book pirated within 24 hours of release. Or they see eBay or iOffer pirates illegally SELLING copyrighted work.

Believe it or not, the only ones getting rich in this game are the blockbuster authors, like Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and others of their ilk. They are one in a million, literally. The indies and NY midlist (even those that make the bestseller lists) are often holding a day job, because writing brings in so little. The indies do not have boards of directors. They don’t have investors. They are often 1-3 man teams who are hurting as much as the authors are. They aren’t money-grubbing corporate types, like the pirates like to attest. Often, an indie author or NY midlist author without a day job is only without one, because he/she is disabled or caring for small children or disabled relatives. These are the people being hurt by piracy.

And beyond even the lowlifes selling someone else’s work illegally… I’ve seen pirates selling free reads, which have permission granted to pass for free but not for monetary gain. Which means they are ripping off the other readers they claim to be helping.

And I’ve seen pirates heisting charity anthologies that are meant to help people who have lost everything in fires or hurricanes, autistic children, cancer victims, abused women, premature babies, and other worthy causes. The authors aren’t making a thin dime there. Only the charity does. How can these people live with themselves?

I am seeing misinformation and mob mentality spreading like wildfire. To be honest, I am relieved when I encounter reasonable people who want to pirate moderately…just sharing a single copy with a friend, not selling my work illegally, not using pirate hotbeds to pass my work to thousands at a shot, not lying about what the laws actually say to dupe others, not passing viruses and worms or stealing identity or otherwise using malware and spyware, willing to go to bat and explain to the lawmakers what they feel is wrong with the laws…and so forth. I’m even more stoked to encounter someone who really doesn’t know what the laws say and — in either case — is willing to hold a reasonable discussion. Because these people are not the threat to my income and IP. They are the sorts of things Lanier envisioned, all those years ago.

Neither do I have a problem with people doing things the Millennium is against, if it is done to access a book legally purchased FOR THE CONSUMER’S OWN USE. That’s right. If a blind person wants to break DRM to have software read an e-book to her, I support it. Not that most of my books are DRMd to being with, but... If someone breaks DRM solely for the purpose of backing up his own legally-purchased e-books, I support it. It is when the hack or hacked copy is passed along that I stand with Millennium. Otherwise, I am supportive of anything that allows an honest, paying reader to access my work, at the reader's comfort and convenience level.

Back to the subject… I prefer reasonable people and try to be reasonable in return. The alternative are the ones who feel entitled to take whatever they want and justified in doing so, no matter who and what they have to lie about to get to that justification. There is no arguing with that type, small a percentage as they seem to be in discussion, thank goodness. But believe me, one of this type does more damage to my bottom line than a hundred of the more reasonable ones lumped together.

I am seeing thousands of copies of my work passing every month, while all I can do is try to slow it down with a completely unresponsive and clueless government in the wings, claiming they are doing good. Clue arriving. They have switched which agency is in charge of anti-piracy three times in about three or four years, and they are no closer to what they are supposed to do about it now than they were then.

I am fighting with sites that turn a blind eye and make a ton of money on advertising. I am fighting with sites that exist (purposely) in countries that do not uphold or respect copyright of other countries.

My two cents? Actually enforce the laws. Make people caught pirating responsible for what happens on their computers and on their sites. If it’s a business or school, so be it. They can learn to police their own. If it’s grandma’s computer, maybe grandma can beat sense into the teen-aged kids and remove their online privileges. In short, enforce personal responsibility. I’d even be willing to let the government keep the fines for stopping people pirating my work, if they did something useful.

No comments: