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Old 12-11-2018, 11:06 AM   #106
Bookmaker & Cat Slave
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Originally Posted by darryl View Post
@Zod @Hitch. You both make very good points. My experience, like Zod's, is that most people don't bother with justifications at all.
Well, hard to argue about people's experiences, eh? :-)

However, it is a fact that copyright infringement is a very different legal concept to larceny. Copyright Infringement is quite literally not theft so far as the law is concerned. The question is whether the two are ethically equivalent or close to it.
I'm aware that there's a legal distinction. I wish that the scribers had made things a bit clearer, because the use of that "distinction" as an excuse drives me nuts. I do think that they are largely morally equivalent.

I must confess that one of my pet hates is "rights holders" and publishers and the like continually hiding behind authors and other creators. Authors are of course entitled to be paid and should be paid. However, the fact is that it is almost invariably the case that the author is losing only a tiny amount from each lost sale compared to the other parties to the transaction. And, of course, time and time again we hear of publishers who have taken steps to cheat their authors even of these tiny payments. This does not of course in any way justify customers not paying the author. However, it is a dishonest and annoying tactic.
You know, Darryl, there was a time when I might have thought as you do. However, in the last decade, I've come to know a lot--an awful lot--about publishing. I've seen the day-to-day grind of it; I've seen up close and personal what's involved, what it takes to bring a book to the public, market it, etc.

And I have to say, this bias (I'm not speaking about you, personally; I realize that you are reacting to what's been said about this, anecdotal evidence, etc.) about "Eeeeevil publishers" is pretty much unwarranted. In more than 3800 customers, over 4,000 books, you know what I've found? Not one author ever thinks that their publisher did "enough" for them. They didn't market their books well enough. They marketed to the wrong demographic. They created the wrong cover. They used the wrong editor. They didn't understand the book. They were lazy. The people in marketing never listened to the author. They cut a crucial disucssion from the book. They did this, didn't do that, and yadda-yadda-yadda. Oh, and yes, my fave--they weren't paid the right amount of royalties.

This narrative is repeated, over and over and over. I would probably faint dead away, if someone ever came in and told me how incredibly wonderful their former trade publisher had been. I'm still waiting for that mythical beast, the happy author. Oh, sure, they're happy when they get that first signing royalty, but after that? Fuhgeddaboudit.

You know how many, of that 4,000+ books that we've done, that we've seen deserve to be top-sellers? Would you like to make a wild guess? How many would you think? 100? 200?

Wanna try 10? Maybe? With proper editing and marketing?

Now, you'll say, "oh, but, yeah, those are self-published authors" as if that means something, but it doesn't. Many--many--of our clients are or have been trade-pubbed authors, so that's not it.

The truth is, most books aren't going to be big sellers. Or even mediocre sellers. They're going to sink into obscurity, ne'er to be seen again.

The idea that somehow, publishers should do all this work, to bring a book to fruition (and don't think for a MOMENT that it's not a lot of work), and then somehow, turn all the profit over to the person who created the original story, is simply daft nonsense. There's no way to do it, and keep a publishing house in biz. Can't be done. Do the math. Assume, on the uber-cheap side, that for a trade publishing house, it takes $5K to bring a book to market, sans marketing of ANY kind. Assume the real-world numbers; that not 10 out of 100 are going to make a profit. You've got $500K invested, in bringing those 100 books to the market; you probably need to spend another $250K to market them, even if you're a teeny publishing house, and 10 of them, maybe, if you are very, very lucky, are going to make any money at all.

How much profit, from those 10, are you going to be able to spread around? Seriously? How much money will those 10 earn, when it's all said and done?

In short--ha!--the "evil publisher" thing is a freaking myth. It's nonsense. It's a blame game. I mean, is there any possibility that a publisher, ever, ripped off an author? Of course, but I just don't believe it's the norm. Not based upon what I've seen. Publishers earn that damn money, and they take all the risks.

If authors want other people to take the risks and do all the heavy lifting, do the marketing, etc., then this is the result. This is what will, of course, happen; the odds are simply that the very few books that do well can only support the remainders to a certain point. That means, quite simply, that the publisher cannot pay those few authors that do pay off as well as those authors might think that they deserve to be paid.

That certainly means that good-selling authors don't earn what they might, if they were the only author being published by that house--but they never are. That's the problem, the math and the reality, Darryl.

I want authors to be paid. If I were to download pirate copies of ebooks and read them without paying the author, I would be doing the wrong thing, full stop. Further, I believe that we should have intellectual property laws, though I think our current ones in many cases are working against the public interests they are meant to serve. When this happens these laws lose the respect of the public and I believe lead to more people regarding them as irrelevant.
But telling yourself-- whoever does this--that it's okay, because it's the publisher, not the author--the author still doesn't get paid. No matter what the percentages are.

And honestly, I don't think most pirates or abusers of copyright, think about it that deeply. Hell, I doubt that most even know the laws surrounding copyright. They just can't be bothered to pay for the book(s).

The Free Dictionary defines the term rationalisation in this sense as follows:

I don't think it follows that every copyright infringement is universally and without exception inconsistent with reason so that any justification whatsoever amounts to a rationalisation. Even more so if the question of whether something is consistent with reason is a subjective one and not an objective one.

Interestingly enough as far as I am aware Elsevier has made no claim that the authors of its articles are being deprived of payment by piracy. Perhaps this is because it does not in fact pay its authors? Though it does, of course, leverage the benefits of public research expenditure for its own enrichment.
Don't know. It's an interesting question.

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Old 12-11-2018, 08:24 PM   #107
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Great post. I freely confess that I am strictly an amateur when it comes to publishing. And I am only human and therefore extremely fallible. I claim no mortgage on the truth.

So far as the law is concerned it is easy to lose sight that there are enormous differences between tangible and intangible property. Trying to draft copyright laws in a manner that pretends that they are would in my opinion simply produce a mess. As for moral equivalence? I tend to think not. I won't go further with this in this post. Certainly pirating intellectual property is still morally wrong in the vast majority of incidents, though I think usually to a lesser degree. Sometimes to a much greater degree. Large scale commercial piracy is I think much worse than an individual obtaining a pirate copy for their own use, though once again the latter is still morally wrong, at least in the vast majority of cases.

Believe it or not I only subscribe to the evil publisher meme so far as the Big 5 and some of the less scrupulous smaller houses. In the case of the Big 5 I base this largely on their contractual terms and their behaviour as reported. My attitude comes from personal experience growing up in Australia. I was a prolific reader and we were treated very poorly. Many books were not released until long after publication, or sometimes not at all. Prices were so high that when Amazon started operating I was able to purchase and import usually superior US editions, pay the postage and all charges and still come out significantly cheaper. I remember first doing this with an Alice Sheldon biography and some Science Fiction novels. Well before ebooks became prominent and widely available. Another reason I adore ebooks. But imagine what reading Joe Konrath's blog and KKR and the like did to my already jaundiced view of the Big 5. And of course many of the contractual terms in Big 5 contracts are in my view simply unconscionable so far as authors are concerned. Having said that, publishing is not, nor should it be, a charity. Publishers are businesses who are entitled to make a profit. However, I think the Big 5 realise that they would get scant public sympathy, and for this they have only themselves to blame.

Your comments on authors temperaments and attitudes and the merits of their books is about what I would have expected. Bringing a self-published work to market is very easy and cheap, but producing a professional quality work is not. The better self-published authors, and there are more and more of them as time goes by, are themselves paying for the necessary services, which are affordable to most, at least in the 1st world. And of course they are keeping control of their rights.

As for rationalisations, I think there is an element of the person deluding themselves, the need for the rationalisation indicating that they are aware on some level that what they are doing is wrong. This being the case, those who have a genuine belief that they, for instance, are acting for the greater good are not guilty of rationalising. Without this subjective element, consciousness of guilt on some level, I think a person may be mistaken but is not rationalising. Hypocrisy, of course, may well be involved.

If you get the chance have a look at the Elsevier situation with scientific journals.

One final point. It is easy to see how much our respective views have been influenced by our own experiences. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
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