Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

Thanks to a fellow writer, I found a pirate site offering my latest ebook for free. I’ve sent the usual take-down notice, so it should be gone shortly (these sites are generally pretty good about removing a title once asked to do so, but I shouldn’t have to ask!).

On their home page, I noticed they were fighting COICA. Those letters stand for Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act. This was also posted: On Thursday, the 25th of November 2010, the Torrent Finder domain ( http://www.torrent-finder.com ), registered with Godaddy, was seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without any prior takedown notice or specific allegations of infringing activity. The Domain IP was suddenly changed without the registrar’s knowledge and the system displayed a “Pending Registry Action” message on the domain’s status. They asked their site users to help fight these actions.

I’m all for internet freedom until it allows people like this to take money out of my pocket. Piracy is not funny. We don’t allow it on our oceans, so why do we allow it online? I’ve heard that piracy actually benefits the writer because the reader will be so enthralled with our work they’ll run right out and buy the back list.

Uh, no. That rarely happens. I’m not vain enough to think my writing enthralls anyone. What does happen is they return to the pirate site for the back list or simply move on to another free ebook. It’s too easy these days to steal from others. Any law passed regarding this particular thievery needs to be very specific. Otherwise, innocents get caught in the net and internet freedom really is curtailed.

But why wait for the law to address this problem? Why not use DRM? I see both sides of this argument, but every time I find one of my titles offered as a free download, I lean toward using DRM.

Opponents say it’s inconvenient for the purchaser. Huh. Inconvenient to type in a password? Most people do that all day long these days. And if you want to loan the book to a friend, as people often do, you give them the password, too. I don’t see the big deal. But putting the book online and ‘loaning’ it to several thousand people falls outside acceptable behavior and becomes criminal.

It took me three months to write The Blue Paradise. Mostly, I enjoyed it, but not always. Writing is work for me. It doesn’t just flow out of my brain and onto the computer. After I submitted the manuscript, Dreamspinner’s staff adding finishing touches, including several edits and a cover. The people that did that get paid. This process lasts about six weeks. After the book is released, I have to wait until the next quarter to see if I made anything. Not one of my checks has ever been enough to pay for more than a couple weeks of groceries. Yup, you heard that right. Not one check, and I have seven titles out there!

And pirate sites think it’s okay to give my work away for nothing, and they want the law to protect their right to do so.



About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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6 Responses to Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

  1. Chris says:

    As someone who has a bunch of ebooks I can’t read anymore because they have mobi DRM on them and the DRM validating process has basically orphaned the books, I am extremely anti-DRM. I can’t even strip the DRM from the books in this situation.

    Studies have not shown that DRM reduces piracy – in fact, some studies suggest that DRM might actually increase piracy. The evidence is enough that Tor.com’s new ebookstore will not sell books with DRM.

    I will not purchase books that have DRM on them. That’s one of the reasons I ended up reading m/m in the first place – I was a refugee from mainstream publishing.

    • Does DRM stop working after a while then? Because yeah, that’s dumb. If you buy the book, you should be able to read it any time you like, forever.

      *sigh* I don’t know what the answer is, but it disturbs me every time I see someone taking money out of my pocket by giving my book away.

      Do you have any ideas on how to stop this? Because it’s only going to get worse as more and more publishers move to ebooks.

      • Chris says:

        It was mobi DRM and after Amazon acquired Mobi, things got weird. Plus I change computers and reading devices regularly – each time I did so, I had to go get the new computer/device validated and remove an old device. I could only have three “authorized” devices.

        I am relatively tech savvy and I keep up on a group that has put together tools to help people strip the DRM from the content they own so they don’t lose access to said content. I can’t even imagine how the more average, less tech savvy consumer deals with this stuff.

        Some studies have suggested that there are content price points at which people find it far easier and more convenient to buy content than to pirate it.

        • I bought an ebook from a major publisher that cost $14. I was pissed. That was simply way too high a price, and I’ll never do that again.

          But ebooks in my genre are affordable, and still they’re being pirated. Everyone wants something for nothing.

          • Chris says:

            Well, I’ll certainly never buy an $8.99 ebook from MLR Press – I wait until I can get expensive ebooks via FW discounts or ARe’s buy 10, get one free deal. Considering that I do not have the right-of-first-sale with ebooks (ie, I can’t resell ebooks I no longer want) and I can’t lend them to friends, I really don’t think anything priced over $5 is fairly priced.

            Also, you can’t equate 50 illegal downloads of your book to 50 lost sales. It’s estimated that very few of the people downloading will actually read what they download.

            It’s a complicated issue that requires some time to understand, beyond the surface reaction.

          • No doubt you’re correct. It still hurts though, when I see one of my titles being given away. Those discounts, by the way? They kill writers. I would have made some decent money last quarter except for deep discounts. They pretty much stole all my profit.

            I looked at that statement and wondered why I bothered, that I should just (ahem) give them away.

            There are days when being a writer is depressing.

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