A Christmas Post About Piracy (HT: @brianoleary)

The Christmas period is a time often associated with copious gift exchange. And what better gift than books, right? Isabelle Roughol from Linked In describes the increasingly futile and heavy handed attempts to quash online piracy:

A French court just signed the death warrant of 11 sites that streamed pirated movies and TV shows. Will it make a dent in illegal media consumption? No more than the deaths of Napster, Kazaa or Megaupload.

The entertainment industry lobby is like Don Quixote fighting windmills – except Don Quixote, you feel a bit sorry for. The "majors", on the contrary, have a knack for uniting consumers against them.

The message remains clear: where possible, in every way possible, get your content in front of the people who want it. Because nothing can stop them getting it. Be the most convenient conduit.

Just have a look at the roadblocks to French consumers who just want to watch a movie:

Let's take France as an example, since it's the market I know. A 1986 law regulates how cinematographic content may be broadcast – at the time, it was meant to save movie theaters from the ascent of television and video stores (notice how back then we were already legislating our way out of crisis rather than innovating it). Once a film is released in theaters, one must wait:

  • 4 months to see it as a one-time on-demand purchase
  • 12 months to see it on a movie-specific cable channel (and its catch-up on-demand service – 10 months if they've signed a deal with the cinema lobby)
  • 30 months to see it on other cable channels or broadcast television
  • 36 months to see it on a subscription-based, on-demand-only service

You read right – that's 3 years before we could see a "recent" film on Netflix if we had it! That's only a small part of the regulation, which kafkaesque beauty you can explore here if you read French.

The key phrase here is: 'notice how back then we were already legislating our way out of crisis rather than innovating it.'

Food for thought, folks. And a Merry Christmas!

Read the original post here: http://www.magellanmediapartners.com/index.php/mmcp/article/more_ways_than_ever/

Piracy News (on account of International Talk Like a Pirate Day) (via @torrentfreak, HT: @idealaw)

A piratical link for you today. Warner Bros (back in June) said that pirates showed them what consumers want. No surprises there, really.

“Generally speaking, we view piracy as a proxy of consumer demand,” Kaplan notes.

“Accordingly, enforcement related efforts are balanced with looking at ways to adjust or develop business models to take advantage of that demand by offering fans what they are looking for when they are looking for it.”

The above shows that Warner Bros. has started to treat movie pirates as a market signal and an indication that legal offerings are not yet up to par. Or to put it differently, the movie studio believes that they can beat piracy by competing with it and providing a better user experience.

The book industry seems to be adapting much more rapidly to the notion that legal, easy and affordable access to content is the solution to unauthorised content sharing. Having said that, the indisputable market leader Amazon is increasingly putting exclusivity constraints on its new services. For readers who don't want to buy into Amazon's service (eg. me) this creates an artificial market demand, which is always met through piracy. Until it becomes possible to buy content in the format you need, piracy will continue to be a problem.

Read the original article here: http://torrentfreak.com/warner-bros-pirates-show-us-what-consumers-want-130624/

Adventures In Invoicing Your Copyright Violators (via @abesauer, HT @Readinasitting)

Abe Sauer says:

In March, I put together the fourth annual March Madne$$: The School Tuitions Of The NCAA Bracket. A popular piece, I watched as numerous sites reposted the work wholesale and sold ads against it.

That's when I tried something new in the ongoing efforts of writers to get paid on the Internet. Instead of angry emails or cease and desist notes, I just sent invoices to site editors and managers.

His story touches on the hypocrisy of massive copyright-enforcing and -tantrumming media organisations, who blatantly repost, and often reformat, other writers' articles and then sell ads against them.

In a way, too, it touches on sites such as this one, where I ramble a little about other articles I've found, and excerpt small sections. On the one hand, I'm not making any money here, but on the other, I am trying to make Literarium a useful source of writing-related information, hopefully so that when the software comes up you'll take a look at it. So where do we draw the line? I draw the line at copying articles wholesale and spoiling the punchline, but is that enough?

Anyway, do have a read of Abe's attempts to get money out of large companies who simply swiped his work but would never let anyone else do the same.

I wonder if this would work with those ebil e-book pirates. If you sent them a PayPal invoice for $3 for downloading your e-book, I wonder how many of them would be happy (or able) to pay? If someone does try that, please let me know.

Read about Abe's invoicing extravaganza here: http://www.theawl.com/2013/05/how-writers-can-get-paid-now-adventures-in-invoicing-your-copyright-violators

What you need to know about book piracy (via @rayntweets, HT: @petermball)

It's rare that I have nothing to say, but Claire Ryan says everything I could possibly have to say or have said about ebook piracy.

It’s possible for you to prevent your work from being pirated if you never publish it and keep it on your hard drive or in your notebooks forever.

Check out her dot points, and read the article if you've ever been angry about your writing being pirated. The comments are worth looking at too, as some of her points are questioned and Claire responds in kind.

  1. Piracy is not something that can be stopped.

  2. Piracy can be reduced, however.

  3. It’s sometimes good, and sometimes bad.

  4. But the bad has never really been quantified.

  5. It means your work is popular and people like it

  6. People have lots of reasons for pirating.

  7. Fighting piracy is a HUGE sink on money and time.

  8. It's not theft

  9. Everyone commits some level of piracy every day.

I'm trying to think of something to contribute to this very thorough article. My opinions about DRM aren't exactly secret, after all (tl;dr: kill it with fire). Point 7, 'fighting piracy is a HUGE sink on money and time', is key here: writers already find every possible excuse not to write, from research to marketing to all-the-internets. Adding something superficially business-ey like 'fighting ebil pirates' is just another distraction.

The amount of time and effort you have to put in to fight piracy on any level (again, a problem that might not even be a problem) is astronomical. It’s also pretty emotionally draining, and who wants to deal with that when you could be writing?

Indeed: write more!

And make it easy for fans to give you (reasonable amounts of) money.

And definitely read the full article here: http://raynfall.com/719/what-you-need-to-know-about-book-piracy/

Aspire to become the victim of piracy (via @TWLuedke)

A brief article from Travis Luedker was reposted into my twitter feed today, in which he relates his attitude towards the casual piracy of (his) ebooks. It's always a divisive topic, and many comment threads are devoted to the to and fro of opinions in this field. Disclaimer: I don't like piracy, but I believe it is a market response to pricing and availability (including DRM), and that it is impossible to affect by any other means. This means that I am inclined to agree with Travis here:

To be pirated is a compliment, I have succeeded in catching the pirate's attention.  He wouldn't steal my ebook if it wasn't valuable.  At least he knows I exist.

Perhaps he even read my novel ... that would make me happy :)

The original is here: http://thenightlifeseries.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/aspire-to-become-victim-of-piracy.html

Do Libraries Equate to Piracy (via @seanroney)

Short one here. I tend to equate piracy to market correction and don't consider it a concern for the vast majority of writers, who are mostly just happy someone is reading their work. In my opinion, therefore, spending sanity, money and time fighting it is a waste of resources better spent on more writing and marketing. Sean Roney plays a little bit of a Devil's advocate with his thought experiment in response to this post by Rachelle Gardner. He defends piracy, showing an example where library patrons are worse than your classical digital pirate:

Library patrons sometimes love to share. Actually, having worked at a library, I'll note that while a small percentage are those super-fans who love books, a great deal are just there for a free read or a project. Those patrons are like the worst type of pirates, in that they just want something free, and nothing else, without ever sharing.

Don't jump to conclusions just yet: have a read to see what's going on here.

Read it here: http://woxo.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/library-equals-piracy.html

PS: while you're there, check out the great cover art Sean is putting on his books

Avast ye scurvy dogs! Here be my answer to piracy (via @johnbirmingham)

This is a great and entertaining (as always) read from John Birmingham, about his e-book publishing direction, and his experience with piracy (back in the day of good old photocopier piracy). I don't usually post straight to the meat of a post (and you should still read the original) but here:

So. That’s my news. I’ve thrown my hands up and admitted defeat on DRM and pricing. I’m going to try give the punters what they say they want with ebooks.

It's almost the exact opposite approach to those businesses which are busy locking in exclusive distribution licenses with their overseas suppliers to make sure you keep paying the same price as you've always paid and have no option but to source whatever you’re after from one or two nominated suppliers.

John raises the valid (and sobering point) that readers don't care whether books are more expensive in Australia, despite often legitimate costs to local suppliers: the reality is they just see smaller $ figures and gravitate to those.

There is also a very valid reply by John in the comments. I know, I know: never read the comments on the internet. I make these sacrifices for you.

John points out that the publishers have done a very poor job, especially in recent times, of making authors and potential authors understand the amount of behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting a manuscript published. I'll just quote an excerpt  here:

Publishers have done themselves a disservice in this because by encouraging the cult of the author they obscure the critical role played by their own, anonymous employees. From cover artists to line editors and even marketing.

You know what makes a best seller?

Nine times out of ten it's the marketing spend.

Read and enjoy: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/blogs/blunt-instrument/avast-ye-scurvy-dogs-here-be-my-answer-to-piracy-20120528-1zegt.html

Lloyd Shepherd: My parley with ebook pirates (via @guardianbooks)

Lloyd Shepherd discovered a request had been made to have his book pirated:

Many writers in my position, I know, have gone into a rage when their books are pirated – particularly those with no experience of the legal ways of the internet. How can it be, they yell, that these clowns are stealing my livelihood? And I felt some irritation, of course. But blind anger wasn't getting us anywhere, and here was an opportunity to ask this guy (in my head, he's a guy, although she may well not be) what he thought he was doing. I went on to the forum to put it to him.

The discussion is interesting. I don't necessarily agree with all the opinions that bubble up, but these discussions can be pretty volatile.

Read the outcome here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/16/lloyd-shepherd-ebook-pirates-mobilism

Wired for Culture: How Language Enabled "Visual Theft" (via @brainpicker)

Maria Popova reviews 'Wired for Culture' by Mark Pagel.

Language, says Pagel, was instrumental in enabling social learning — our ability to acquire evolutionarily beneficial new behaviors by watching and imitating others, which in turn accelerated our species on a trajectory of what anthropologists call “cumulative cultural evolution,” a bustling of ideas successively building and improving on others. (How’s that for bio-anthropological evidence that everything is indeed a remix?) It enabled what Pagel calls “visual theft” — the practice of stealing the best ideas of others without having to invest the energy and time they did in developing those.

I like to consider it a nice sabot hurled into the steam-engine of anti-piracy ravings.

Read it, I command you: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/28/mark-pagel-wired-for-culture/

Let's just yell about piracy for a bit

I'm a member of various writing lists, and I variously see writers get their head in a tizzy about piracy. Now we all agree piracy isn't the best thing, but there really isn't any way to do anything about it which doesn't cost more time, effort and money than you are recovering.

I won't go into a long rant on the topic; this blog is not the place for that. However, Joe Konrath has a nice (now old, but still relevant) post that addresses all the common complaints.

The short version is: deal with it, there is no evidence that piracy harms sales.

Read it here. Worthwhile. Now stop worrying about piracy and get back to writing: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/05/piracy-again.html