Thoughts on piracy

The Pirate Bay logo

The Pirate Bay logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At what point is it okay to share the works of someone who is trying, or hoping to make a living at an artistic endeavour?  Is it once they’ve achieved a living by it?  When they’re rich by it?

With the internet, it’s certainly hard to fight it.  Fight too hard and, like Metallica, you just make it worse.  Don’t fight it hard enough and you’ll never get it to stop … assuming it’s even possible.  So there’s a certain futility to it all.

I know people who’ll pirate TV shows, movies, music, etc.  In some cases that’s the end of it; they have it and they’re not going to pay for it.  Some decide it was worthwhile and so buy the DVD, BluRay, CD, iTunes, whatever.  Some of the former would have bought it if a torrent didn’t exist, some refuse to ever pay for media.

Those who use piracy as a sort of library, I honestly have no issue with.  Or maybe you’re using it because you go to listen to your favourite tape, LP, or CD and discover it’s broken or ruined and it’ll be a few hundred dollars to replace because it’s out of print or something.  Seen more than a few people hunting down torrents of video games for that reason.

I don’t think file-sharing in itself is inherently bad.  As with most things, it’s intent.

Some people just share things because they can.  They don’t realise, or don’t care, that there are real people hurt by this.  Others do it as a sort of finger to capitalism and similar.  There are those who refuse to believe that data can, in some kind of sense, belong to someone.

I’ve recently found one of my books on several torrent sites.  And to get it down is very likely to require the help of a lawyer due to the rather convoluted policies on the part of both the DMCA and those sites’ interpretation of it.

On one hand, I almost feel happy:  someone liked my book well enough to share it?  And people want it badly enough to be downloading it this way?

On the other … I looked at the tracker statistics:  There’re twice as many people downloading that book as I type this than paid for it in the past two months.

I’m not so unrealistic as to believe that all of those are people who would have ever found my book to buy in the first place; there’re people whose personal Amazon is TorrentReactor.  I am not so unrealistic to believe that there are not some who see The Pirate Bay as a sort of lending library without due dates, or as a sort of free Netflix.

Still, it hurts.  It hurts personally that there are people out there who would enjoy someone’s hard work, but be unwilling to get it legally; unwilling to support that artist so that they might provide more work to enjoy.  I’ve seen musicians argue that, these days, don’t sell the music sell the merchandise – if they buy the shirt they get the MP3, according to an MC Lars song.  That’s fine and well for musicians.  What of authors?  What merchandise do we have?  That may work for some genres, but not all.  Too, I do have a bit of that; if you buy the print book from Amazon the e-book is free.

Thing is, with many arts, it’s a labour of love in the first place.  Many a musician, many a filmmaker, many a writer has to have a day job to pay the bills.  New York Times Bestselling authors who have to work to put food in the cupboards and pay the rent. Certainly those of us without that prestige … Now & Forever has two books out and both have hit the best seller charts in more than one country, not bad.  Amazon best sellers, at that!  Not sitewide, though.  Genre.  Yes, one of them did hit a point above one of the new big titles in YA romance.  Tally that against the statistics of how many people don’t read.  Best seller, in all but the most remarkable of cases; award winning, inall but the most remarkable of cases … these things do not mean well off, they don’t mean going through the dollars with a plow … they mean we make anything at all.  My writing pays my electric bill, sometimes.

The people who created the torrent of my book will probably never read this.  Even if they do, they’re as likely to troll in the comments as to take it down – the most likely is they’ll read it, shrug, and move on with no reaction at all.  I’ve no idea what I will or can do about the torrents; they exist, hundreds of people have downloaded them and the book (by-the-by, they used a terrible program to create the Kindle version put in there so it’s ugly … the ePub is one they got from one retailer or another) … I could get rid of the torrents today, and tomorrow, next week, next month … they’d be back.  With the sales lost, because some sales ARE lost, just no, not as many as the RIAA and MPAA try to claim, there’s no hope of ever affording the lawyer’s fees, to make it stop.  Maybe I’ll join the RWA, I think they offer legal services to members.

No I will not sue the people who want my book.  I’m not Metallica, I know a good portion of the downloaders are just kids, or the curious.  The torrent creators, they might get sued, but I know perfectly well how easy it can be for one to do these things without leaving any breadcrumbs … a little clever use of TOR or I2P and no one can find you unless you do something daft.  What?  Women can understand hacking and the internet, too.  Even those of us who prefer OSX and do our writing with ink and parchment; some of us just take an academic approach to it rather than a practical one.

I won’t ask you not to download the torrents; I will, however, beg you:  if you enjoy the book, consider buying a copy.  I have no magical power to know how many people possess a copy of my book, no magical power to know if and how much you enjoy it.  Reading a book does not support the author.  Tell your friends it exists, encourage them to read it?  That can, yes, though it helps if you do so in a way that at least some of them buy it; it certainly helps to nominate it for awards and to vote for it when it’s been nominated.  Leaving reviews, leaving ratings.  These things help.  That’s cheerleading, buying the product?  That supports the author herself; it’s money in her pocket.  If she’s with a big publisher, yes, it means you probably bought her the postage stamp she just put on her reply to a fan’s letter – sad, but true, though that’s no reason not to buy her book … if it doesn’t sell, and the publisher isn’t counting torrent tracker stats as sales by any measure, then they won’t renew her for another book.  If she’s self-publisher, you’ve probably bought her a cup of tea, a little nicer … but without a big marketing team, Ingram distribution, people whose job it is to ensure that the book is on Barnes & Nobles’ physical store shelves, etc … she gets precious few cups of tea as it is, don’t deny her another … she loves tea, it makes her happy, and a happy writer writes more books.

It’s all down to intent – don’t hurt the artists you love.  Like Boris Vallejo?  Buy a book of his art that has some of your favourites from that JPEG collection you downloaded.  Like Imagine Me & You?  It’s often only us$5 at Big Lots for the DVD (remember, used sales aren’t sales, you supported the store, not the artist(s)).  Love Arden Kaywin’s latest album?  Why not, at least, get your favourite tracks on iTunes?  Want to read Love or Lust all the way through, rather than just the sample, before you buy?  Fair enough, I completely understand that – too many books out there, big/small/self published where the editing and story telling are only good up to the end of the sample, everything from the next page on is a rough draft, and a bad one, at that; and of course you won’t take my word for it that I take more pride in myself and my work than to do that to people.  When you’re done, consider grabbing a copy from somewhere.  If you like having the ePub and the Kindle version, I recommend getting it from DriveThru Fiction or All Romance E-Books; I had no control over the Kindle file created by Smashwords and therefore cannot recommend it in good conscience, but all three will give you both formats in a single purchase and my lack of DRM means you can convert any retail source’s file to whatever format you wish, just don’t blame me if it doesn’t come out well.

Bed of Roses

Cover of "Bed of Roses"

Cover of Bed of Roses

I’m not even sure this post will count as a review, really, but sometimes you watch something and you just feel like sharing the experience.

So let’s go with that:  Sharing.

I’ve said before that I don’t read much, if any, romance.  Strange, I know, given that I write it.  But I do watch it.  I just … I like the fairy tale of it all; even in real life, there can be fairy tales and in that regard I do read romances — I love to read about real true love and love at first sight tales.

First off you know this movie is good because of the two words right there above the B:  Christian Slater.  Has the man ever done a bad movie?  Or, if he has, was he ever not great regardless of the train wreck around him?

In the classic sense this is a comedy in that it isn’t a tragedy.  It’s a happy ending.  But, come on, any good romance in my opinion is.

Imagine Me & You, Letters to Juliet, Pretty Woman, But I’m a Cheerleaderetc.  They all take their own little twists on this formula:  Couple meets and something happens (sometimes what happens is they hate each other — I LOVE Letters to Juliet!) then the couple gets to know one another and just fall ever deeper in love.  Something else happens and the couple splits up for a time, and then they get back together, roll credits to a beautiful kiss or the like.  Cheers and tears, pass the Kleenex.

This one does it right.  You see it all coming, you know what’s going to happen, but you don’t know how.  Devil is in the details.  And, I really feel this is rewatchable.  Don’t know it, because I literally only just heard of it and watched it for the first time (thank you HBO Go.  What?  I’ve said I work for my cable provider, I have perks, and I love movies) but I seriously suspect it, because for those 80-odd minutes, you’re there and your heart is tugged and you smile and you laugh and you cry while shouting ‘no!’ and then you smile again but still cry while saying ‘awww’.

Honestly, this movie is every reason I don’t like Kissing Jessica Stein.  Just a cute, sweet, wonderful romance!  They meet, things happen, they get in a fight and … it ends.  They don’t get back together.  It’s not fair!  Mostly, I think, because of why they fight; I’m not sure how much I’d like it even if they broke up for a damned good reason, but it left me feeling cheated.  Bed of Roses is the opposite.  Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) is scared of … love; she’s never really known any, and you really get that — the writers gave this woman the worst past they could without throwing abuse, rape, and a few other scarring moments into the mix.  But!  (Yay!  there’s a ‘but’) Her love for Lewis (Christian Slater) is real, it’s meaningful — she starts to feel awful for leaving him and she come back and … and it’s beautiful.  Hell, given the character, if Lisa and Lewis hadn’t got back together as other than friends, it’d have been believable, disappointing, but believable — I wouldn’t have felt quite so cheated as I did with Kissing Jessica Stein; I’d only have felt cheated because … the happy back together ending is the trope I like and I always feel cheated when the twist to make something different is to play with that.

It’s short.  It’s sweet.  It’s romantic.  Any guy who says he doesn’t like it is just being macho, tie him to the chair and put some Kleenex to hand for both of you, curl up beside him and watch it.  Any guy who will sit and watch it voluntarily is probably a Lewis (hey, watch it and find out); and by ‘guy’ I mean the tough-guys and tomboys I don’t give a damn what’s between his or her legs.  I really don’t think I ever saw this title at the cinema, never do I recall seeing the trailer, and it was made in 1996 — I was in high school and saw loads of movies then!  Never this one.  If, like me, you missed this one — find a copy.  If you’ve access to HBO On Demand or HBO GO, it’ll probably be there and it’s probably on Net Flix or iTunes or something.

Right about now, for most of the northern hemisphere, this is the perfect weather for this kind of story.  Take advantage!

iBooks freebie

Kindle may or may not join this game, I don’t control that so can’t say.

In my effort to test if Apple’s support had corrected my issue setting a sale for my book I have set a 99¢ price that is good through today.  Tomorrow the book will be free for a couple of days.  This is only on iBooks (and anyone else who elects to price match them).>

Please enjoy.

P.S.  this lovely little button below will take you directly to the book on iBooks — and soon, iTunes.

ibooks-button-graphic

iBooks sales can happen now!

It turns out the issue I was having with setting up the labour day sale was a glitch in iTunes Connect.  C’est la vie, glitches happen in the best of software.  I’ve heard of Hello World failing to run correct for people.  Computers are semi-daemonic entities.

Well, tomorrow until Saturday Love or Lust will be $0.99 on iBookstore.  And lowered approximately the same degree in most markets.  No, it’s not free.  I might do a free weekend soon, again, for everything.  This $0.99 was an experiment so I could tell tech support if I’m still having trouble.  I’ve got an experimental free set up too, but I’m not saying when }=) Well … not yet.

This new sale is just for a few days and only on iBooks (unless Amazon notices and auto-matches).  But I promise another free that will, this time, include everyone (except Nook and Kindle, since I can’t actually force such sales with them) is coming.

Now & Forever ABCs (Lauren)

Lauren Felicia Conners

9 January 1996
Lutheran (ELCA)

Lauren is a perfectionist.  She is always striving for excellence in anything she puts her hand to, be it her dancing, her studies, or setting the table.  Often this leaves her with an remarkable lack of confidence — she’s always worried she’ll mess up or fail.

She fell in love with dance at an early age.  By three she had shown such intense desire to dance that her parents had signed her up for lessons, because her wish to learn exceeded her family’s ability to teach her given that none of them knew more than ballroom dancing.  It became her life.  She has studied ballet from that first day — her love of dance having been born upon seeing a ballet, she’d begged to learn ‘the pretty dance’.  From there, however, she branched out and has taken further lessons in ballroom and latin dancing.  She has taken belly dance lessons, and is a long time student of a local modern and jazz dance instructor.  And, of course, ballet — always, she studies ballet.

Eventually she moved from her old ballet school to Mademoiselle Jeanette‘s as it offered a chance to gain greater experience on stage as well as a far more advanced study of technique.  In addition to dancing, Lauren has some interest in general performance so often tries out for school plays and takes drama electives when she gets the chance.

Lauren’s next great love is church.  She has grown up in a very religious family, and has a strong sense of the importance of God and faith.  Between that and having received all of her schooling from Catholic schools she took a strong interest in theology, especially Christian theology.  She has read every English translation of the Bible she could, and thoroughly, as well as making a devoted study of the history of the Abrahamic faiths and the Hebrew people.  She tries to understand her religion and its origins.  This has lead her to frequently excel in her Religious Studies lessons, such her school eventually ran out of options but to skip her ahead in subject, first placing her in Freshman theology in eighth grade, then in Junior’s level in her ninth grade year.  Even placing her in AP level courses has done little to assuage her boredom in these classes.

Her perfectionist and pious nature expresses itself in her relationships with others.  When she dates, she approaches it with the assumption that this person could be who she spends the rest of her life with — she doesn’t date to date or for social status, but to find the one person God has meant for her to be with.  When she makes friends she loves those friends and values those friendships deeply — even a casual friend, or even simply a friendly acquaintance is someone who Lauren cares deeply for and about.  Her capacity for forgiveness and caring even extends to those who are anything but friends — she’s human, she still manages to have angry thoughts and to see horrible things happen to those who upset her, but she simultaneously feels rather guilty about those thoughts and quickly tries to forgive them as much as she can.

This, plus her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible have led many to, depending how much they like her, affectionately or derisively refer to her as Saint Lauren and similar.  She’s seen as too sweet to be real, too good, and other things.  Those who know her well know this isn’t true — that she can be catty or mean when provoked, the she can hold the occasional grudge, that she does not always follow the rules, and that — despite being a virgin — she possibly knows as much or more than some who aren’t — she will investigate any curiosity she has in books and internet, including sexuality.

The one naïvety she ever expresses is in the form of aspects of pop culture.  While Lauren’s family has a television, it is used expressly for watching DVDs, Apple TV, and Blu-Rays; they have no cable nor antenna.  She does listen to the radio, both internet and airwaves (primarily satellite, but sometimes FM) and has an impressive collection of music, both physical and iTunes, and she enjoys movies from every era starting with the original silent silver screen flicks to the newest special effects blockbusters.  Still, the latest hit shows, latest popular talk show trivialities, and other goings on in the daily lives of the little people in the magic box are lost on her.  She’s watched the telly before, and it bored her.

Her friends call her a humble Hermione Granger (simply Hermione for short), and Linus — as in the Peanuts character who has such a habit of quoting Bible verse — but thanks to Salencia they’ve taken to simply calling her Pixie; a nickname she’s far more fond and proud of.  It’s also rather apt.  She has forever been a tiny girl, not always shortest in her class, but close to, very much lithe and petite — many of her clothes can still be bought in the children’s section of the department store, what of it she doesn’t make for herself, and combined with a complexion that is all freckles with copper red hair, she agrees with Sally:  the name fits.

I rather agree with this.

I honestly do not believe for a moment, that piracy loses sales. I know many people who pirate books, movies, games, music, software, etc. who wouldn’t have bought the item in the first place. The difference is, though, that they’re still a customer. Not a paying one, no, but one who may become enamoured with your work. This love could translate into future sales (movie pirates who then buy fancy boxed sets of the blue rays, or a leather-bound hardcover edition of a book). They certainly will TALK.  A lot.

Example: Walking Dead fans. Do you realise how many people watch that by downloading whole seasons?! Know how many of THOSE people went out to buy the fancy Blu-Ray set with the zombie head case? Know how many of them told friends who got curious enough that they watched it on Netflix, or iTunes, or VOD? Guess what — THAT’s money back to the studio.
DRM doesn’t do anything more, in my opinion and mind, than annoy people who purchased the product. The folks inclined to pirate will just break the DRM somehow, or will move on to something else while utterly ignoring you.

The Wandering Barefoot Editor

When an author decides to self-publish an eBook a decision that must be made is whether to DRM your book or not. DRM (Digital Rights Management) allows an author to encrypt their book to prevent illegal sharing. A lot of authors worry that readers will steal their material so they enable DRM. This is counter-productive when the same author wants to get their name out there and become known. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising there is so use it to your advantage. So what if a small handful of readers acquire your book without paying for it. If the book is good that reader is more likely to check out what else you have written, buy other books, and tell their friends about the book they read. By enabling DRM readers can’t buy an eBook and convert it to use on their device.

For example, I know of an eBook that was bought on Amazon with…

View original post 121 more words