Quite often I run across blogs or individuals who state that pirating software, pictures, books, etc, is allowable and even laudable.
I have been told that pirates will always be there in a digital world, as if this makes up for the original crime. Others have said that there is no real evidence that pirates hurt sales. "It spreads awareness...rather than stealing it."
If it spreads awareness about the artwork, it's the wrong kind of awareness. It's an awareness that says "I have the right to anything I want because you can't stop me from taking it."
I recently spoke to an author who has been very successful. At one point she became aware of several websites that were selling her novels. These websites were making more money selling her book than she was.
If the author makes 100 sales and the "pirate" makes 10, is it then theft? What if that same author makes 100 sales and the pirate makes 100? Is that unfair? Or 100 to 1000, or 100 to 100,000. Where do you draw the line and say "This is theft" and acknowledge the damage done?
So a few of the main "arguments" for pirating:
1 There are no studies showing that pirating hurts sales
Response: People who pirate copyrighted work are not going to state as such in public, therefore any studies on this would be automatically flawed.
These websites will not offer up their numbers, the number of books, movies and music sold for which the author/artist/producer gets NOTHING. Why should they? What of those who receive stolen copies of books? Will they agree to provide numbers? Like many other crimes, it becomes a matter of visible losses. It becomes the responsibility of the copyright holder to prove that damage has been done. It becomes the responsibility of the victim to prove a crime has been committed.
Those who have these copies have no need to buy another, and no need to "spread awareness" except as they pass on the stolen book. One individual I spoke to on the bus was more open than others--she said she would wait for the next book in a favorite series to be given to her rather than buying it. She stated that she was not stealing because she hadn't copied the files, "and anyway electronic files can't be copyrighted.".
2 Websites which provide pirated copies of copyrighted works make their living off of the adds, not from selling the work
Response: This week I ran across a site quite by accident that sells copies of pirated works. I have seen others. Not just adds, but actual prices for the work itself. This means that millions of people are paying for the product, when someone other than the author is making a profit.
3 An electronic file cannot be copyrighted
Response: National and international laws disagree.
4 Anything in electronic format is automatically in public domain
Response: International copyright laws aside, just because something is electronic does not mean that it's owned by the public, and that's what pirates advocate--everything electronic is owned by the public and the artist has not right to it.
5 If I don't sell it, it's not pirating
Response: International copyright laws state that an item is copyrighted for USE, and not for sale. That copyrighted item is not to be used without the copyright holder's permission, even if no money changes hands.
6 Everybody does it
Response: If everybody jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?
7 It can't be stopped
Response: So that makes it all right, and we should all jump on the bandwagon? So because shoplifting can't be stopped we should just legalize it? After all, no one is hurt...
I continue to believe that if I create something it belongs to me until I give or sell it to someone else. At that point they have an exclusive license, which they can lend to another IF THEY DESTROY THEIR COPY. One price, one copy. Comparing it to a used book is not out of line.
Whether malicious or not, pirating is stealing from an artist who spent many hours and possibly a great deal on money bringing a product to the market. If others use that product, the artist should be entitled to compensation.
Every copy pirated is one more copy for which the author receives nothing. These copies are then passed on, under the assumption that if it's not sold it's not pirating, and again the author receives nothing.
If a reader likes a book, and wants more of the same, he or she must be willing to support the author. Without that support, the author will not be able to continue creating.
It's that simple.