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Old 12-23-2007, 07:54 PM   #1
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interesting NYT article on "copyright morality"

Excerpt:

"I do know, though, that the TV, movie and record companies' problems have only just begun. Right now, the customers who can't even *see* why file sharing might be wrong are still young. But 10, 20, 30 years from now, that crowd will be *everybody*. What will happen then?"


Link here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/20/te...81a&ei=5087%0A
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Old 12-25-2007, 08:17 PM   #2
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I see the problem from a conflicted POV. As a writer, you're not getting paid just for some non-tangible thing, you're also getting paid for the time you spend, often times above and beyond a paying job. I just finished a book; I write fast and it took me 30+ hours to write it and at least that long to edit. Many people take three or four times that long, 240+ hours or more. Thats six weeks of a full-time job, and very few of us actually work 8 solid hours...we all have down-time in the form of interruptions...which we have to schedule in for writing. Figure another 40 hours, because its almost not possible to write without interruption. Figure 2 months for a book, sometimes less, usually more. Most writers usually don't make a living off writing. Standard royalties used to be 6%, with a bum up to 8% after 150,000 copies. figure $.45 for each book. 45,000 bucks for 100k books. Keep in mind that you may not reach that many books for 10 years, and your advance (against ryalties) may be 4 grand.

The reason I say that is that grey market eBooks don't really hurt publishers as much as they hurt authors. I'm 100% behind redoing drm so its sensible but I can never support the wholesale theft of books. Even Linus Torvold has a paying job. I've never seen a post on here saying "I just jack them all, arrrrrr," but I know it happens. Ideally everything would handle it like the Zune I think...Free to loan out but it expires. To make it portable they'd end up having to neuter it...but you can't make things foolproof...theres too many talented fools. It would keep the punters in line anyway. That's about all you can hope for; Pirates will steel it no matter what, and DRM shouldn't impact usability. That's my moral viewpoint regarding copyrights.
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Old 12-25-2007, 11:01 PM   #3
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Following on from the author's scenarios, is it wrong for friends who have E-book readers to simply exchange devices when they have finished reading a selection of books, therefore allowing the traditional change of books that has always been possible with paper books. And if this is not wrong, is it wrong for someone to hand over an e-book file after they have finished with it.
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Old 12-26-2007, 05:57 AM   #4
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I have to agree with heglog. I'm all for the authors, they work lots of long hours (sometimes taking years on a book) for usually not much reward. While I'd like to see a more workable DRM I don't want to see something that's going to make the writer's lot even worse. We have few enough quality authors as it is.
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Old 12-26-2007, 10:57 AM   #5
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I have to agree with heglog. I'm all for the authors, they work lots of long hours (sometimes taking years on a book) for usually not much reward. While I'd like to see a more workable DRM I don't want to see something that's going to make the writer's lot even worse. We have few enough quality authors as it is.

I DISAGREE with Heglog's view.

First, Kudos Heglog for managing to write an entire book in 30+ hours! (I say this with great respect as I did the 2006 NaNoWriMo - and finished - and I found it to be extremely difficult to write even 50,000 words in 30 DAYS, doing that much or more in just 30 HOURS boggles my mind!)

Second, it isn't the fault of the writers or the ebook pirates for the abysmal 'wages' paid out by publishers. Nope, that rests squarely with the publishers themselves. (Okay, I'll admit the truth. I ALSO believe that part of the problem is the reading 'dumbification' of our younger generations - helped in part by TV (although that is an 'assist' not a root cause) - a 'dumbification' which puts more emphasis upon doing well in scholastic sports programs than on learning to enjoy reading.) Publishers have always short-changed authors over the value of their works. I mean, c'mon! A person spends nine months creating a novel, which, when published generates 30,000 copies in sales at $25 each (hardcover) and the author can't even earn out his/her advance of $4,000-$8,000?

Third, and the publishers continue to stomp all over their bread and butter by refusing to use the one tool that can boost sales - reasonably-priced ebooks! Oh no, mustn't offer ebooks that can generate word-of-mouth. Nope, can't even *THINK* of creating the ebook version at the same time the mass-market or hardcover version is being laid-out! (Which would save time at the back end because the publisher would not have to hire someone to go back and re-enter the manuscript, a costly effort.) This despite the fact that once an electronic version of the novel is available, there are no printing and other production costs for each and every new copy sold.

Yep. It's not the lack of DRM hurting authors, it's the publishers' intransigence.

The BEST thing for an author to do is retain all ebook rights and work through a separate publisher who understands the ebook process - such as Baen.

Derek
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:39 PM   #6
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I DISAGREE with Heglog's view.

First, Kudos Heglog for managing to write an entire book in 30+ hours! (I say this with great respect as I did the 2006 NaNoWriMo - and finished - and I found it to be extremely difficult to write even 50,000 words in 30 DAYS, doing that much or more in just 30 HOURS boggles my mind!)

Second, it isn't the fault of the writers or the ebook pirates for the abysmal 'wages' paid out by publishers. Nope, that rests squarely with the publishers themselves. (Okay, I'll admit the truth. I ALSO believe that part of the problem is the reading 'dumbification' of our younger generations - helped in part by TV (although that is an 'assist' not a root cause) - a 'dumbification' which puts more emphasis upon doing well in scholastic sports programs than on learning to enjoy reading.) Publishers have always short-changed authors over the value of their works. I mean, c'mon! A person spends nine months creating a novel, which, when published generates 30,000 copies in sales at $25 each (hardcover) and the author can't even earn out his/her advance of $4,000-$8,000?

Third, and the publishers continue to stomp all over their bread and butter by refusing to use the one tool that can boost sales - reasonably-priced ebooks! Oh no, mustn't offer ebooks that can generate word-of-mouth. Nope, can't even *THINK* of creating the ebook version at the same time the mass-market or hardcover version is being laid-out! (Which would save time at the back end because the publisher would not have to hire someone to go back and re-enter the manuscript, a costly effort.) This despite the fact that once an electronic version of the novel is available, there are no printing and other production costs for each and every new copy sold.

Yep. It's not the lack of DRM hurting authors, it's the publishers' intransigence.

The BEST thing for an author to do is retain all ebook rights and work through a separate publisher who understands the ebook process - such as Baen.

Derek
Thats 30 hours of work, an average of one a night for a month. Writing is really less than half the work. Revisions, publishing prep, maps, research, and whatnot take at least that long.

I really dont see where you disagree. I think the fault lies squarely in the publishers treating eBooks as if they are printed books. They require a completely different sales and distribution model. Paper books have to be formatted, type setting, press setup, and a minimum initial run that will cover, or almost cover, the costs of production. They have to be distributed and stored, and they need store front. They do require physical resources too. For the most part, A publisher doesn't give a shit about author's rights, because the make the money off a real product. Unless you are Stephen King and they are losing a load of money. Someone borrowing arun book has been accounted for. The print run has already accounted for that. By the time you buy it, that first print run is bought and paid for, and they have the books on inventory. They buy what they are sure they will sell, and if someone steals or borrows or checks out a book, that doesn't take food out of their mouths...they will just sell the book they have to someone else.

On the contrary, look at the kind of model you'd have with digital distribution, its more of a distribution on demand. If people steel the book, that's one more you will not sell. You have some of the human costs but nothing related to publishing, you only have to cover the original human cost and data center dis. costs. Books can be sold on demand, without the the investment up front. publishers will make up the money, they have many different fingers in many different pies, authors are at the mercy of the distribution network. Its not a justification to say that the publishers have enough different cash sources to cover the piracy, but that's the fact. As we shift more to digital mediums a rely less on print runs (printed books will never be unwanted) they will rely more on the distribution on demand models. they will have to start compensating for piracy, as with software, and the price will encourage more people to steal the books, with justifications for theft based solely on price. The ones who get hurt, the ones who rely on the sales of THAT book, are the authors.

Thats assuming they could get DRM working in an acceptable way. A lot of people like to say the wouldn't pirate it if it was otherwise available...reality shows us otherwise. They steal it because it's there.
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Old 12-26-2007, 01:51 PM   #7
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Thats 30 hours of work, an average of one a night for a month. Writing is really less than half the work. Revisions, publishing prep, maps, research, and whatnot take at least that long.

I really dont see where you disagree. I think the fault lies squarely in the publishers treating eBooks as if they are printed books. They require a completely different sales and distribution model. Paper books have to be formatted, type setting, press setup, and a minimum initial run that will cover, or almost cover, the costs of production. They have to be distributed and stored, and they need store front. They do require physical resources too. For the most part, A publisher doesn't give a shit about author's rights, because the make the money off a real product. Unless you are Stephen King and they are losing a load of money. Someone borrowing arun book has been accounted for. The print run has already accounted for that. By the time you buy it, that first print run is bought and paid for, and they have the books on inventory. They buy what they are sure they will sell, and if someone steals or borrows or checks out a book, that doesn't take food out of their mouths...they will just sell the book they have to someone else.

On the contrary, look at the kind of model you'd have with digital distribution, its more of a distribution on demand. If people steel the book, that's one more you will not sell. You have some of the human costs but nothing related to publishing, you only have to cover the original human cost and data center dis. costs. Books can be sold on demand, without the the investment up front. publishers will make up the money, they have many different fingers in many different pies, authors are at the mercy of the distribution network. Its not a justification to say that the publishers have enough different cash sources to cover the piracy, but that's the fact. As we shift more to digital mediums a rely less on print runs (printed books will never be unwanted) they will rely more on the distribution on demand models. they will have to start compensating for piracy, as with software, and the price will encourage more people to steal the books, with justifications for theft based solely on price. The ones who get hurt, the ones who rely on the sales of THAT book, are the authors.

Thats assuming they could get DRM working in an acceptable way. A lot of people like to say the wouldn't pirate it if it was otherwise available...reality shows us otherwise. They steal it because it's there.
Two things. First, if the ebook prices are low enough - and charging more than the cost of a mass-market paperback for a regular-release ebook novel is *ALWAYS* too HIGH - then there's little need for most people to 'steal' ebooks. And it isn't stealing if a person has already purchased a dead-tree version and the publisher refuses to release an ebook version. After all, it is legal to scan a book one owns into one's own computer, and downloading a copy from a free download site when one already owns a dead-tree version is morally the same thing - the person is just letting someone else make the scanning effort. (I make an exception to this in the scenario where a person 'creates' an ebook version and then sells it to others - that is clearly stealing.) And the one scenario where charging MORE than mmpb prices would make sense is where, as Baen does it, it 'pre'-releases an 'electronic' Advanced Reader Copy (eARC) of the book before the dead-tree version hits the shelves. (Having the privilege of reading several Baen editions months before the average customer can find them in the local bookstores is a thrill well-worth, in my opinion, spending $15 for the eARC. )

Second, ebooks are an excellent 'buzz' generator. Even were the publishers to break even on ebook sales due to 'pirated' copies, the word-of-mouth advertising far outweighs any 'piracy' revenue loss.

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Old 12-26-2007, 01:54 PM   #8
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Two things. First, if the ebook prices are low enough - and charging more than the cost of a mass-market paperback for a regular-release ebook novel is *ALWAYS* too HIGH - then there's little need for most people to 'steal' ebooks. And it isn't stealing if a person has already purchased a dead-tree version and the publisher refuses to release an ebook version. After all, it is legal to scan a book one owns into one's own computer, and downloading a copy from a free download site when one already owns a dead-tree version is morally the same thing - the person is just letting someone else make the scanning effort. (I make an exception to this in the scenario where a person 'creates' an ebook version and then sells it to others - that is clearly stealing.) And the one scenario where charging MORE than mmpb prices would make sense is where, as Baen does it, it 'pre'-releases an 'electronic' Advanced Reader Copy (eARC) of the book before the dead-tree version hits the shelves. (Having the privilege of reading several Baen editions months before the average customer can find them in the local bookstores is a thrill well-worth, in my opinion, spending $15 for the eARC. )

Second, ebooks are an excellent 'buzz' generator. Even were the publishers to break even on ebook sales due to 'pirated' copies, the word-of-mouth advertising far outweighs any 'piracy' revenue loss.

Derek
sorry, I type like a monkey.

I agree for the most part. Buzz generation would mean a lot more if there was a product to buy If I have an ebook, and it generates buzz, which just causes you to steal the same ebook, it not much good.

As far as scanning a book you own to have a digital copy, thats a fundamental change in technology that needs to be addressed. Before, if you loaned out the book, It didn't increase the numbers out there...now you can loan someone a copy, and keep the real thing, rather than really loan your book.

The rest is because publishers (other that Baen) dont really have a sales model that uses digital media as more than an afterthought.

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Old 12-26-2007, 02:34 PM   #9
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The rest is because publishers (other that Baen) dont really have a sales model that uses digital media as more than an afterthought.
That's mostly true and for a good reason: they do not need to. When they will be forced by external pressures, they will do it, until them everything will be just half-hearted as is now.
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Old 12-26-2007, 04:50 PM   #10
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Is all of that the issue... or is the issue the fact that "young people" (Pogue's words) see pretty much no reason why downloading an illegitimately-obtained file would be wrong? That, after all, seemed to me to be the point of the article.

We've had discussions like this around here (and I fully admit, I played a part in allowing said discussion to get out of hand a few times), and based on those threads, I'd generally concur with Pogue on his conclusion: The younger you are, the less likely you consider downloading or burning something, legally obtained or not, to be "wrong."

If age really is a factor, why is that? Is it a cultural thing? I don't think so. Do young people not understand the concept of fairness? I don't think so. I think it might have more to do with young peoples' having less personal experience with "working for a living," and so do not hold the same value of another person's work as a wage-earner... they cannot (or do not) imagine themselves in the position of being the creator whose work is pirated.

It is strange, however, since young people seem intimately familiar with the concept of successful actors and musicians making money off their work, and they understand that well enough to hope to emulate it themselves someday. So how do you justify wanting to be successful in order to make money, yet pirating the works of successful artists to deny them money?

There is the concept that electronic files are "just a bunch of electrons, which are practically insubstantial, so they're essentially nothing," and therefore essentially worthless. Most arguments for the "rightness" of taking electronic content seem to reflect the idea that since it is "only electrons," they are taking "nothing," you can't make "something" out of "nothing," etc.

This concept seems to be part and parcel of the culture of the digital age, which young people have probably had more exposure to than the culture of wage-earning. In discussions on this subject in this forum, it is clear that many people accept this axiom, while others contend that it is the content held by those electrons that holds its value, and therefore they are not "just worthless electrons," but a medium for valuable content (like the paper holding the printed words of a book).

I tend to think that this is the central paradox that needs to be addressed, before anyone can agree on a definition of "stealing" or "piracy."

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Old 12-26-2007, 06:31 PM   #11
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Is all of that the issue... or is the issue the fact that "young people" (Pogue's words) see pretty much no reason why downloading an illegitimately-obtained file would be wrong? That, after all, seemed to me to be the point of the article.

We've had discussions like this around here (and I fully admit, I played a part in allowing said discussion to get out of hand a few times), and based on those threads, I'd generally concur with Pogue on his conclusion: The younger you are, the less likely you consider downloading or burning something, legally obtained or not, to be "wrong."

If age really is a factor, why is that? Is it a cultural thing? I don't think so. Do young people not understand the concept of fairness? I don't think so. I think it might have more to do with young peoples' having less personal experience with "working for a living," and so do not hold the same value of another person's work as a wage-earner... they cannot (or do not) imagine themselves in the position of being the creator whose work is pirated.

It is strange, however, since young people seem intimately familiar with the concept of successful actors and musicians making money off their work, and they understand that well enough to hope to emulate it themselves someday. So how do you justify wanting to be successful in order to make money, yet pirating the works of successful artists to deny them money?

There is the concept that electronic files are "just a bunch of electrons, which are practically insubstantial, so they're essentially nothing," and therefore essentially worthless. Most arguments for the "rightness" of taking electronic content seem to reflect the idea that since it is "only electrons," they are taking "nothing," you can't make "something" out of "nothing," etc.

This concept seems to be part and parcel of the culture of the digital age, which young people have probably had more exposure to than the culture of wage-earning. In discussions on this subject in this forum, it is clear that many people accept this axiom, while others contend that it is the content held by those electrons that holds its value, and therefore they are not "just worthless electrons," but a medium for valuable content (like the paper holding the printed words of a book).

I tend to think that this is the central paradox that needs to be addressed, before anyone can agree on a definition of "stealing" or "piracy."
Certainly this is one paradox. The other is that morals is a learned or taught value. The schools no longer teach it, homes don't teach it and heaven forbid that the church should say anything except to members. Adults tend to understand morals after they mature a bit but children has no concept.

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Old 12-26-2007, 10:06 PM   #12
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Certainly this is one paradox. The other is that morals is a learned or taught value. The schools no longer teach it, homes don't teach it and heaven forbid that the church should say anything except to members. Adults tend to understand morals after they mature a bit but children has no concept.
I think most kids understand that "stealing is wrong" (whether they get caught or not, and that's certainly another issue to address). What they don't see is how taking any electronic file can be considered "stealing," and I think that is directly because of their perception of an electronic file as "essentially nothing."
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Old 12-26-2007, 10:59 PM   #13
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Adding to Steve's comments, young people (of all ages) see little wrong with taking an ebook since they can also get the hardcover book free from the library. Around here the libraries also loan out CDs, DVDs, and a host of other things. This sets up the paradox that it is OK to read the book for free from the library but it is not OK to read the free electronic file.

I think it goes beyond the concept that it is a bunch of electrons; for many it has become a game of collecting and showing off. I looked at the darknet in the newsgroups that a fellow member pointed out to me when one person (or at least one user name) was posting ebooks from the MobileRead download area. There were people posting hundreds and thousands of ebooks almost in a "show me yours and I'll show you mine" type of competition. (One user name posted over 5,000 ebooks within a week.)

Yeah, books are pirated; its just that the pirates don't read them.
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:33 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RWood View Post
Adding to Steve's comments, young people (of all ages) see little wrong with taking an ebook since they can also get the hardcover book free from the library. Around here the libraries also loan out Cd's, DVDs, and a host of other things. This sets up the paradox that it is OK to read the book for free from the library but it is not OK to read the free electronic file.
You are blaming LIBRARIES for contributing to piracy? You are joking right? Part of the way libraries prevent piracy is they have limited numbers of books, cd's, tapes, video's, whatever. Only a few (at most) people can checkout the copies. And it can take a week or more before some items are available. So that would encourage the concept of patience, waiting your turn, and the value of having something to read or listen to or watch.

I have more observations but do not want to derail the thread. But in essence it seems to revolve around our society having become an adversarial one. There is little regard or value placed on personal ethics, a true work ethic or, heck, even manners.

The are a multitude of reasons for what we as a society have become but it would seem a significant contributor was an idea presented earlier. And suggestion how the very people who generate income for the all-might AmeriCorps and EuroCorps are treated like chattel. Beat any being and eventually it is willing to do anything to survive which leads to the thug/bully mentality so very many people have seems today. Since we no longer place any value on education here in the US there are so very many who feel learning should be adversarial and not a joyful journey...they take pride in their very ignorance. This when combined with this in-your-face thug mindset leads to a need to show they are all too-tough to care" and willing to flaunt any rule/law/regulation.

And to be honest, the elimination of sports programs has been a factor also...sports always taught kids how to compete but much more important there was a sense of fair play and sportsmanship. The saying win or lose, it's how you play the game that matters no longer exists. It is win or begone with you as you are obviously defective and need culling.

Oops...see I got off on a mini-rant...sorry...and not to pick on ya rwood it was just the comment about libraries contribute to piracy just flat floored me...that is flat, well, wrong.
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Old 12-27-2007, 03:36 AM   #15
HarryT
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Two things. First, if the ebook prices are low enough - and charging more than the cost of a mass-market paperback for a regular-release ebook novel is *ALWAYS* too HIGH - then there's little need for most people to 'steal' ebooks. And it isn't stealing if a person has already purchased a dead-tree version and the publisher refuses to release an ebook version. After all, it is legal to scan a book one owns into one's own computer, and downloading a copy from a free download site when one already owns a dead-tree version is morally the same thing - the person is just letting someone else make the scanning effort.
I really do have to take issue with both those statements, Derek.

1. There are numerous eBooks available for around the US$5 price point, which I believe would be a fair price from virtually anyone's viewpoint (Lauzon excluded, of course). Baen charge US$5 for their individual books, and Fictionwise charge around that for many of their "Multiformat" books.

Does that stop these books being reposted on the Usenet eBook groups and BitTorrent sites? No, it doesn't. Some people are just thieves, full stop.

2. You cannot make a blanket statement that "it is legal to scan a book one owns into one's own computer". It depends where you live (for example, it is specifically NOT legal in the UK) and what you subsequently do with it. It is of course true that you are highly unlikely to be prosecuted for scanning a paper book for your own exclusive personal use, but to make a blanket statement that "it is legal" is really going too far. It is most definitely NOT (IMHO) "morally the same thing" to download an illegally uploaded version, because you are downloading "stolen property".
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