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Old 01-26-2010, 11:21 AM   #1
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Confessions of a Book Pirate

http://www.themillions.com/2010/01/c...ok-pirate.html

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In truth, I think it is clear that morally, the act of pirating a product is, in fact, the moral equivalent of stealing… although that nagging question of what the person who has been stolen from is missing still lingers. Realistically and financially, however, I feel the impact of e-piracy is overrated, at least in terms of ebooks.
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TM: Do you have a sense of where these books are coming from and who is putting them online?
I assume they are primarily produced by individuals like me – bibliophiles who want to share their favorite books with others. They likely own hundreds of books, and when asked what their favorite book is look at you like you are crazy before rattling of 10-15 authors, and then emailing you later with several more. The next time you see them, they have a bag of 5-10 books for you to borrow.
I’m sure that there are others – the compulsive collectors who download and re-share without ever reading one, the habitual pirates who want to be the first to upload a new release, and people with some other weird agenda that only they understand.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:41 AM   #2
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Very good article.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:48 AM   #3
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Good article. I definitely agree with 'pirate' that the 'loss due to piracy' figures are inflated, but believe that there is some loss (with exceptions such as out of print books). So, the question implied but not really discussed is, how much does a person have to lose before it's considered theft? (In the US there's generally a distinction between petty theft & grand larceny. IMO downloading a pirated ebook would definitely be petty theft-but the piracy itself, i.e. uploading a book to make it available for others to download, could well be grand larceny.)
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:56 AM   #4
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I was a bit surprised by the article, but part was no surprise.

No surprise that the book pirate shares the NEED with shoplifters to get stuff they probably will not use and do not need.

Very surprised that there was no mention of eBook "rights" versus paper. Nor was there mention of the geographic issue where customers want to buy, but cannot, or are being gouged. Perhaps the latter is because the article author and book pirate were US based.
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:08 PM   #5
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Also many books are still in copyright but are not available to buy as ebooks, but are obtainable via the darknet, generally as scanned in copies of pbooks.
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asjogren View Post
Very surprised that there was no mention of eBook "rights" versus paper. Nor was there mention of the geographic issue where customers want to buy, but cannot, or are being gouged.
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Originally Posted by ShellShock View Post
Also many books are still in copyright but are not available to buy as ebooks, but are obtainable via the darknet, generally as scanned in copies of pbooks.
Neither of these is, IMO, justification for piracy. Basically, these arguments assume 1) the right to obtain a book as an ebook and 2) the right to obtain it cheaply. Neither one is, IMO, a right.

If it's not for sale as an ebook, buy it in paper-or don't buy it. If it's not for sale in either format, then yes-I'd say you have a right to get it where ever you can. (If it's not for sale in any format then there's no possible sales for the owner to lose, therefore no loss to the owner can occur.)

As for getting it cheaply-that's been the defense of shoplifters & other thieves for years. I just can't take that defense seriously.
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:27 PM   #7
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A fascinating article.

Thank you.


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Old 01-26-2010, 01:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
Neither of these is, IMO, justification for piracy. Basically, these arguments assume 1) the right to obtain a book as an ebook and 2) the right to obtain it cheaply. Neither one is, IMO, a right.
Nobody's claiming that it is a justification, or a right. People do it because they want to, and can. ("Rights" is an entirely artificial concept invented and policed by society.)
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:55 PM   #9
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Something to think about concerning Geographic issues:

Corporations travel the world to get the lowest prices on:
- labor
- materials
- taxes
- regulation

If it OK for a US company to relocate to Mexico for these reasons, and then close the Mexican operation and move to China just a few years later...

Why do we put up with these geographic barriers for eBooks? Some may think it wrong - almost to the point of piracy to circumvent the barriers the publishers, distributors, and vendors construct.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
Good article. I definitely agree with 'pirate' that the 'loss due to piracy' figures are inflated, but believe that there is some loss (with exceptions such as out of print books). So, the question implied but not really discussed is, how much does a person have to lose before it's considered theft? (In the US there's generally a distinction between petty theft & grand larceny. IMO downloading a pirated ebook would definitely be petty theft-but the piracy itself, i.e. uploading a book to make it available for others to download, could well be grand larceny.)
Sure, there may be a loss because a number of people who download a book would have otherwise bought it. But on the other hand, there is a gain because some of the people who download it end up buying it (or be the cause for one or more sale), which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't downloaded said book.

If you work from the assumption that the first is true, you then must accept the second is as well. As of now, no serious study has been done as to the impact of either in the book market. There are a few indicators that would tend to show the second is at least somewhat stronger, among which the Baen free library that is mentioned in the article.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calvin-c View Post
So, the question implied but not really discussed is, how much does a person have to lose before it's considered theft? (In the US there's generally a distinction between petty theft & grand larceny. IMO downloading a pirated ebook would definitely be petty theft-but the piracy itself, i.e. uploading a book to make it available for others to download, could well be grand larceny.)
No, it would be copyright infringement. Morally equivalent to theft also does not mean that it is theft. So maybe the question that was implied was how much before the copyright infringement was morally equivalent to theft.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asjogren View Post
Something to think about concerning Geographic issues:

Corporations travel the world to get the lowest prices on:
- labor
- materials
- taxes
- regulation

If it OK for a US company to relocate to Mexico for these reasons, and then close the Mexican operation and move to China just a few years later...

Why do we put up with these geographic barriers for eBooks? Some may think it wrong - almost to the point of piracy to circumvent the barriers the publishers, distributors, and vendors construct.
As consumers, we have as little say over the geographic restrictions on books as we have over where a company locates its plants. That is, we can influence them by our buying power but can't truly control them without restricting freedom. And, IMO, once you say it's OK to restrict the freedom of others you've inevitably said it's OK for others to restrict your own freedom. Not a path I'm willing to take.

If you're an author or publisher then you *don't* need to put up with geographic restrictions on your books-but those are the two groups that I hear complaining about them the least.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:34 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ardeegee View Post
Nobody's claiming that it is a justification, or a right. People do it because they want to, and can. ("Rights" is an entirely artificial concept invented and policed by society.)
Hmm, so if I *can* steal your car it's OK to do so?

Right might be an artificial concept (I, and many philosophers disagree, but numbers don't make us right), but they are the foundation of civilized society.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:46 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Trenien View Post
Sure, there may be a loss because a number of people who download a book would have otherwise bought it. But on the other hand, there is a gain because some of the people who download it end up buying it (or be the cause for one or more sale), which wouldn't have happened if they hadn't downloaded said book.

If you work from the assumption that the first is true, you then must accept the second is as well. As of now, no serious study has been done as to the impact of either in the book market. There are a few indicators that would tend to show the second is at least somewhat stronger, among which the Baen free library that is mentioned in the article.
Agreed that both are factors, but IMO it's like advertising. There's no direct link between advertising & increased sales-but there is a statistical link. The offset could go either way, but IMO it should be the author/publisher's choice. Although the pirate's supposedly promote freedom, what they're actually doing is denying the author/publisher freedom.

Since business requires interaction between people, the ethics of business require a wider view than the ethics of individuals. At least that's my opinion. As individuals, you can do whatever you like with your own property-but for business (and therefore society) to continue, you need to respect the rights of others. That, IMO, is what this is all about-respecting the rights of others. You don't need to approve of their actions, but if you deny them the rights to decide their actions for themselves, then you open the door for them to deny you the right to decide your actions for yourself, too.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:50 PM   #15
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No, it would be copyright infringement. Morally equivalent to theft also does not mean that it is theft. So maybe the question that was implied was how much before the copyright infringement was morally equivalent to theft.
Theft is the taking of property without the owner's permission. It seems to me that copyright law says that the right to reproduce a book is the property of the author. It doesn't matter whether you leave the owner a copy or not, the act of theft lies in *you* taking the copy. Without permission, of course.
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