Apr 28

Andrew Savikas

Andrew Savikas

When Authors Ask Us About the Consequences of "Piracy"

Over on the Tools of Change for Publishing blog, I've reprinted a great exchange from the Radar backchannel addressing an author's concerns about seeing his books gain steam on PirateBay. Here's Nat's take:

Fantastic! There's absolutely nothing you can do about it, and unless you see sales dipping off then I don't think there's anything you *should* do about it. The HF books work really well as books, so at best the torrents act as advertisements for the superior print product (not often you can say that with a straight face). At worst most of your downloads are going to people who wouldn't have bought the book at cover price and who will, if they enjoy it, rave about it to others. [emphasis added]

So long as the royalty checks are strong, take BitTorrent as a sign of success rather than a problem. A wise dog doesn't let his fleas bother him.

Check out the full exchange here.

tags: publishing  | comments: 5   | Sphere It

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Comments: 5

  Matthew [04.28.08 08:53 AM]

Neil Gaiman has recently said quite a bit on his blog about piracy and basically comes up with the same response as Nat, see

  Tim O'Brien [04.28.08 09:29 AM]

I can't disagree that piracy is great for exposure, but, as an author, it really isn't all a fantastic success. If you really believe this, then I'd like to see a clause in all publishing contracts which reads:

"1. In the event of electronic piracy, O'Reilly reserves the right to enforce copyright laws. If O'Reilly does not elect to enforce copyright laws for electronic distribution within 30 days of being notified of a violation, the Author retains the right to distribute content electronically under the O'Reilly brand."

:-) Ok, I know you are not going to do this. And, I agree, that Piracy isn't all a bad thing, but consider the issue from the perspective of someone who pours months (possibly years) into content which they are not allowed to distribute online. When I see someone pirate my books (and they have), my first reaction isn't to sue? My first reaction is... "Now, why can't I do that?"

  Nathanael Nerode [04.28.08 05:49 PM]

Good clause, Mr. O'Brien. This gets back to the fact that publishers are the main beneficiaries of copyright law, not authors, and that it is essentially written and enforced for the benefit of publishers.

Which is, of course, the source of the vast majority of what's wrong with copyright law.

  Ken McNamara [04.29.08 07:29 PM]

I'm no lawyer, and I guess a publisher can choose to ignore the theft (piracy) of it's products.

But is there any possibility that by ignoring the theft of it's product - they may be abandoning their rights?

Something like the loss of the trademark kleenex?

  chromatic [05.05.08 01:07 PM]

@Ken, copyright and trademark law are almost nothing alike. While you may lose your trademark if you do not pursue all violations, you do not lose your copyright if you do not pursue all infringements.

This is one reason why lumping copyright and trademark under the umbrella of "intellectual property" is confusing.

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