Originally Posted by CWatkinsNash
[...] my numbers work out differently than yours.
Let's use Mary again, because I get confused when I use letters instead of names, and we know and love Mary by now anyway.
Mary has an ebook. Her sister Jane wants to read it, and so she gives her a copy with a reminder that she shouldn't go giving it away because if it ends up on the internet, Mary will be in trouble. Jane reads the book, and when she meets with her Green Valley Gardening Club, she tells the other 19 ladies about the book. They all want to read it, but gosh, the book is expensive... So Jane says to them, "Okay, I'll give you copies but you can't pass them around because if they end up on the internet my sister will get it trouble."
Kathy, one of the Garden Club members, reads the book, and it sits on her computer for a while, right next to her other ebooks. Her cousin Amy and niece Sue come by and Kathy gives them copies of a few ebooks, including the one she got from Jane. Likely, some of the other members do something similar.
One ebook, purchased by Mary, results in 50+ free copies rather quickly. Not a single one ends up on the internet, and no malice was involved whatsoever. You asked them to rely on trust, and they did. Mary never gets in any trouble because it's all person-to-person and every single one of those people would never consider uploading it because that would be piracy!
Ok, I'm game: let's push your "Mary has an ebook" scenario a few steps forward :-)
A total of 50 people received a free copy of the book that Mary originally bought. Of these, 20 were actually considering buying that book, because they read the reviews and talked with other people and they feel that it is the type of book they like. The other 30 don't care much about that book, and never considered buying it, but... it came for free! So they take it all the same. 20 of these 30 end up not reading it; the other 10 read it. All of the 20 people who wanted to buy the book, of course, read it. So 30 people read the book.
20 sales are lost for the book that Mary bought. However, something else happens. Among the 30 people who read the book, 10 think that it was really good, and want to read more from the same author. Over the next 6 month, 3 of them buy one book, and 2 of them two books, by that author. 7 sales are thus made. We are still at -20+7=-13 sales, though. However, one of the two people who liked the original book so much (so: one out of 50 "freeloaders") becomes a real fan of the author, and wants to have everything: so an additional 10 titles get bought. We are now at -13+10=-3 lost sales.
Of the other 49 "freeloaders", 10 talk about the book they got for free to someone. Probably, the ones who talk are those who diskiked the book most (5 people) and those who liked it most (5 people). Of the latter, 2 convince a few of their friends that the book is interesting, leading to 3 more sales. Overall, we have now -3+2+1=0 lost sales. (Yes, of course I rigged the numbers to get exactly zero at the end! ;-) )
In the meantime, on the other side of the country, Amy gives her PC to her boyfriend Joe to do some research for his college, and goes to the swimming pool. Amy knows that Joe acts a bit foolishly sometimes (it's part of his charm), but she knows there's no risk in letting him use the computer. In fact, all of her personal files and data reside in her (password-protected) cloud repository. Joe is bored and alone, and finds on the desktop a folder called "media-not_mine". Inside he only finds one file: an ebook. With the vague idea of being a hacker, he uploads it to a torrent site. He knows he can't damage Amy, because her own books are elsewhere; and after all this is clearly already a pirated copy... so what the hell! Feeling somewhat better, Joe resumes his work.
One week later, Mary receives a polite email from the local police. It says that her book has been illegally distributed and asks for the identity of possible uploaders. Mary is upset, and that evening at the Gardening Club tells the other members about this. Did one of them upload the book? Why, of course not! Did one of them give a copy of her book to someone else, even if she asked them not to? A few ladies cast lower their eyes to the ground.
Mary is indignant: "See what you did? Now I have to pay 300$! I won't give the list of your names to the police, because I don't know who is responsible; but you let me down very badly."
Best case: the members of the Club pay 15$ each to refund Mary of the fine, then they all go out for a beer. Each of them swears, in her own heart, that she will NEVER EVER AGAIN give a copy of a book she received for free to someone else.
Worst case: Mary pays the fine herself. Everyone is very embarassed, and nobody ever asks for free ebooks at the Gardening Club. Mary has to accept that someone at the Club cannot be trusted not to share her own books, and from that day gives her media only to people she REALLY knows.
In both cases, the system evolves autonomously towards LESS illegal sharing, not more.