After notifying fellow author JA Konrath that his books were being illegally downloaded on 4shared.com, I was surprised that he boasted about his cavalier attitude regarding copyright infringement on his blog. But I can see where it stems from. He's reportedly making quite a bit of money from his books, one of few authors I know that is making a living off their work. So why should he worry?
In his post, Konrath suggests that authors have "freaked-out" over this issue and that we're a bunch of idiots who are uneducated. "If you really fear piracy, educate yourself...If you have an ounce of brains in your head, you will quickly realize that piracy is always going to be here."
Most of his post validate pirates and their theft of copyright protected works. To say I'm disappointed in his attitude is an understatement. But hey, he has a right to believe what he wants. And so do I and the other authors I've spoken to this week who are not impressed to find their copyrights infringed.
This was my response to his post:
Joe, as one of the four authors who took time to alert you to the piracy of your books, I'm offended by your cavalier attitude and your comments that people who fear piracy are basically stupid and uneducated. I am neither. I am smart enough and educated enough to make a decision on whether piracy hurts me as an author, and I believe it does.Show me a music artist who has NOT been hurt by sites that offer free downloads. I have a lot of friends in the music industry. They're all struggling. A few hundred (or thousand) dollars a month they could have made from the illegal downloads would certainly help them out. The music industry has been fighting this same battle for years. I expect authors will too. That still doesn't make it right.
Of course you disagree. As you told me in your email reply, you're still raking in the sales at $230 a day, so a little piracy isn't hurting your sales. Let me assure you that the majority of authors are NOT making money like this. Most authors I know are lucky to make that amount a month.
So yes, theft of our works strikes a protective chord for most of us. We simply cannot afford to have other people illegally offering up our works to others for free. It is up to the author or publisher to give away free books, and I do that often, on my own terms and when I can afford to do so.
Maybe if I was making $200+ a day on book sales, I'd have the same attitude about piracy, but I hope not. I hope that I always remain humble enough to remember the struggle to get there and to remember how I started, with one book and one sale.
I am not alone in this. Besides other authors, agents and publishers, one of the major writers organizations in the US--Authors Guild--has already begun an investigation into sites like 4shared.com. The 5-10% writers who are actually making a decent living from their writing may never see the loss of money that piracy results in, but the other 90-95% of authors will.
I'll always stand up for the rights of authors and content creators.
I spent most of the day participating in an interesting debate on this topic with JA Konrath and visitors to his blog. You might want to check it out and leave a comment. One thing I most enjoyed was that visitors to the discussion were quite respectful. I encourage you to be the same here and on Joe's blog. It's not easy to take a stand (on either side), but I hope the discussion will give you food for thought.
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Cheryl Kaye Tardif
award-winning Canadian author