Today the Dragon Wins

"Today the Dragon Wins" offers information from Fantasy Author and Professional Editor Sandy Lender. You'll also find dragons, wizards, sorcerers, and other fantasy elements necessary for a fabulous story, if you know where to look...

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Sandy Lender is the editor of an international trade publication and the author of the fantasy novels Choices Meant for Gods and Choices Meant for Kings, available from ArcheBooks Publishing, and the series-supporting chapbook, What Choices We Made.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Not All Pirates are Cool
Or…The Dragon wants to alert you to online book stealing

I’ve got this mad affection for Orlando Bloom. Johnny Depp is nice to look at, too, but Orlando Bloom rocks my pirate house. (Or ship, as the case may be.) With TNT showing Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End this weekend, I'm pleased with thoughts of pirates of the handsome variety. But not all pirates are cool and lusty and easy-on-the-eye and…well…that list could get embarrassing, now, couldn’t it? We have modern-day pirates who deserve much less glamorization.

People who steal are thieves. Period. If you knowingly steal something that you know is not yours to take, you are a thief. If you knowingly give away or sell something that is not yours to give away or sell, thus taking profit out of a merchant’s pocket, you’re participating in theft. I consider these things acts of piracy. Some might look upon the simple, easy, often-quick act of downloading an electronic file (such as an eBook, image, or piece of music) from the Internet as perfectly legal. Why would something so simple be illegal? Why would something so easy-to-do with the click of a button on a free Web site cost $3.99 over on some other Web site? Well, the answers aren’t terribly easy, but they make a lot of sense if you stop and think about what’s going on behind those button clicks.

When an author, artist, or musician makes his work available for purchase on the Internet, he has to make it easy to download. It has to be easy for customers to get to, purchase, “get,” and put on their own computer, e-reading device, listening device, PDA, etc. In the case of an eBook, when the customer purchases the work for $3.99, the author gets a portion of that sale. PayPal gets a cut, the publisher gets a cut, the distributor gets a cut, the editor gets a cut, the agent gets a cut…you get the idea.

When a pirate comes along and gets a copy of that file—whether by purchasing a copy for $3.99 or by some other means—and then offers that copy for free or for $1.99 on an aggregate site somewhere online, the pirate undercuts the author’s sales. He makes it difficult for the author to generate income. I mean, why pay $3.99 here when you can get it free over there? That’s where education comes in. It’s vital that customers, like the visitors reading this blog today, understand that there are sites out there on the web offering a variety of titles by a multitude of authors that they have no right to offer. Ask some questions when you run into such a site.

If you’re looking at something that seems too good to be true, ask why it’s too good to be true. Keep in mind, too, that strange rules govern the way in which you report such sites. One thing you can do is contact individual authors privately to alert them that you’ve seen their titles at a site, and give them the URL. Please don’t list a site’s name or URL in an open forum online.

If you’re an author, artist, or musician visiting the blog today, you can take action by signing a petition to our current President and Vice President. (I’ve read it and found it harmless enough to put my signature on.) Visit CopyrightAlliance to read and, if you’re comfortable with the content, to sign.

“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”
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Blogger BrennaLyons said...

Beautifully said!

No intellectual property is safe. DRMed (secured) CDs and DVDs can have the security broken and be pirated. Print books can be OCR scanned and pirated as e-books, and all of the above happen with alarming frequency.

I'm a realist. I know every industry has its slippage. I know readers are likely to share a single copy, and that doesn't bother me much. What bothers me is finding site after site with between a dozen and 800 of my book files listed. That's not an exaggeration.

What bothers me more is that some people are so dismissive of my business loses, because what's being heisted isn't a physical item but rather the illegal reproduction and distribution of a piece of intellectual property that denies the creator of her rightful earnings on her work.


12:26 AM  
Blogger Sandy Lender said...

Thanks, Brenna,
I was stunned when I started hearing the dollar figures for some of the book sales these sites were garnering for themselves...sales that no author would see royalties from. When you consider how little most authors actually make (I can't afford band-aids, for Pete's sake!), it makes the crime that much more heinous.
Sandy Lender
"Some days, you just want the dragon to eat a thief."

4:24 PM  

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