Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ye Shall Swing from the Gallows!

As a parent when I think of pirates my mind still goes to Captain Feathersword, Captain Jack and depending on the day I've had, occasionally to Captain Morgan.  ;-) But when I watch the news or go online I see that pirates are still a very real threat...and they live in our communities, frequent our grocery stores and even sit next to us in our churches.

From a young age most of us are taught that stealing is wrong. We would never dream of entering some one's home and taking their property, stealing their car or emptying their bank account. Stealing is wrong, plain and simple but somehow when we change the name of the act we are suddenly fine with it.

We all know people, or maybe you are the person, who downloads movies or shares music files. Downloading and sharing don't sound wrong, in fact, aren't we supposed to share? Yes, sharing is good if you, for example, bought a dozen cookies sharing one with a friend is the polite thing to do. But if you stole the cookies and gave one to a friend, that's 'accessory after the fact' - not so nice.

Pirating, or illegal downloading, is not a problem that only exists in the music and film industries but one that is affecting the publishing industry as well. I had no idea how widespread this issue is until yesterday. Maybe its because I'm naive or maybe its because I think people who are avid readers are better than this but I never would have imagined that thousands upon thousands of books are illegally downloaded everyday.

I am a member of an amazing writer's group. These people have taught me volumes about writing, editing, finding my voice and navigating the choppy waters of the publishing world. Many of them are successful published authors but none of them are rich. They have all worked long, hard, lonely and frustrating hours to get where they are and now they are being robbed.

People are buying books and scanning them or uploading eBooks to third party sites and either selling them, and keeping the profits for themselves, or giving the links away for free. The author who has spent months and sometimes years writing, editing and marketing their work is not being paid for their efforts. One friend went to one link on one site yesterday and discovered that her book had been stolen 40,000 times...just from that one link. Those are the kinds of numbers that turn you from a professional writer into a volunteer.

So before you steal another song, movie or book ask yourself (or your pirate friend), would I want to work for free? Intellectual property is still property...don't steal!

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