Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Internet Piracy and the effects on the "little guy"

I am a little fired up this morning.  An author whose works I love and who I personally admire, was discussing the effect that internet piracy is having on his life.  In the discussion he linked us to an article on MotherJones.com (see my previous tweet if you follow me on twitter) and the comments infuriated me.  My reply to the comments is this:

Dan from CT, just for curiosity's sake, what is it that you do? 
 Are you seriously arguing that if I work for years on a book, a song, a movie or any other creative work and you take a file of that work and publish it as your own that you have not stolen from me?
 You have not stolen my work?  You have not stolen the hours that I spent putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, or whatever it took to make that idea a reality?  You have not stolen the income that I may have generated from those words?  Really?
Are you saying that if you build a business, one that you work your fingers to the bone and pour your blood, sweat and tears into that you have no right to expect to leave it as a legacy for your family when you are gone?  That, in the event that you are able to make this into a full time career that I should be able to just come and take your product and give it away to anyone that wants it?
Are you saying that you should be able to walk into any book store, "record" store, video store and pluck those items off of the shelf and walk out with them and use them for yourself or give them away?  Piracy of music, books, articles, movies is EXACTLY the same thing as if you had done exactly that.   Those e-books that I buy for my Nook are exactly like the books that I buy from the shelves at Barnes & Noble, the digital copies of my movies that I buy for my iPad and the music that I buy from iTunes are exactly like the DVDs and CDs that I buy at Best Buy.  They are mine to enjoy but I do not have the right to copy them and share them with the world.   
Pirates are not "just" stealing from the big movie studios, the record companies, the publishing house.  They are directly stealing from the man or woman who is trying to support their family (if they are very fortunate) or who is sitting up in the middle of the night after working a traditional job all day putting their passion, their ideas and their creativity on the line with the hopes of not only creating a legacy but leaving  a little something for their children and grandchildren.   The big businesses behind the publishing of the works will feel a dent- but the true impact is felt by the little guy who pours their lives into creating the actual product.  

When most people think of authors, musicians, etc, they think of those who have found vast success.  They think of the JK Rowlings, the Steven Kings, the Nora Roberts, the Rolling Stones, the Kiss, or the Lady Antebellums of the world.  But even those people were, at one time, working their tails off to get that first book, song, etc out into the world.  Those people are STILL working- beyond doing the actual creative work on a deadline there are the appearances, there are the tours, there are the other people that they pay for publicity, for management, for a myriad of other things.  More- there are the THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of people who are anywhere from writing in the middle of the night and self-publishing (like me) to the author that I was talking to this morning ( @mrsellars on twitter) who has moderate success in his genre and is able to write full time, but is by no stretch of the imagination living in the lap of luxury.  We are the ones who are affected first.  While the publishing companies take a hit, and the big artists and authors may feel a dent, those who are down at the ground floor are taking the hardest hit.  

Let me tell you a hard truth about writing.  My book is by NO stretch of the imagination a bestseller.  It is, I feel, a "decent" first work and has taught me a lot in the process, but the publisher I would like to work with (Rodale Press) would not even give it a look at this stage of my creative process.  I have sold some copies of my little e-book.  I have made...maybe $150 so far from the sales after the Pub-it split since the day I published.  Believe me when I say that I will not be quitting my day job anytime soon for that.   On the other hand- every time that I get that little notification from BN that they have a little money for me from sales and more importantly every single time I get feedback from someone who has read the book  - I experience such a thrill that all of those sleepless nights in front of this screen was worth it.  That said- why, if someone will steal the work and put it out online for anyone to take, would Rodale even bother with a little, new writer such as me.  There will be nothing in it for them to continue to invest in writers if the work is out there for the taking.

My work is not well known enough that anyone has tried to pirate it.  That double edged sword (because really- I would LOVE to have enough people care about it that it makes that kind of an impact) makes me feel grateful that I am not having all of that work, all of that time, all of those words that came from my head and my heart  stolen from me.  It's a violation.  It's blatant theft.  I can only imagine that I would feel as if someone had ripped away a piece of me.

File sharing is robbery- plain and simple.  It's not, by any of the stretch of the imagination, a "Robin Hood" act.  They are not robbing from the rich and giving to the poor.  They are just stealing for the act of stealing.  The only way to stop it is to stand up and be heard.  I don't have an answer other than to speak out and hope my voice can make a difference.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Julie, my name is Joshua and I am writing an essay paper for my college computer class. I would like to know if it would be alright to quote some of your words in my paper. My email is sakasper245@gmail.com. Hope to hear from you soon.