I believe most people simply don’t realize that e-books are different from the print books they own. Those are perfectly legal to trade or gift to someone else. When we think of piracy online, most people immediately think of music. How many artists have lost enormous amounts of money because of people down loading their tunes? Hundreds? Thousands? That’s a lot of music and a hell of a lot of money being taken from the struggling musicians.
I’ve heard readers say they didn’t realize they weren’t allowed to pass their legal bought e-books on. To be honest, I believe some of these people. The internet and our e-publishing industry are really pretty new, so the rules and regulations are still being made, in some cases. There are still millions of people who are blissfully unaware of e-books and the variety of e-readers available now. Education is paramount so our industry doesn’t falter before it even gets its feet under itself.
In the front of ever legal copy of an e-book sold, there’s a warning that states: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher.
Applications should be addressed, in writing, to the publisher. Unauthorized or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
This was loosely based on the text used by Total E-Bound Publication and it’s in the front of every one of their e-books sold. The trouble is, it’s where readers skim by so they can get to the good stuff. How many of us pick up a pocket book and read the first few pages? You know, the bits about who published it and when, the ISBN, that sort of thing. The print is usually small, the message foreign and unexciting. That’s not why they bought the book. They want the story!
What we have to get through to those readers, those wonderful fans and buyers, is that e-books are very much the same as the books they buy in their favorite brick and mortar bookstore in only some respects. The authors work as hard, they spend weeks, months, sometimes years, creating that story you’re dying to get your hands on. They’ve spent nearly as long waiting to hear from publishing houses and then going through the myriad of edits and possibly re-writes to polish their babies. The difference comes when it’s actually published. One, you can pick up and walk out of the store with. That one costs more, takes up space in your home, kills a tree or two for you to hold in your hands and is transferable. The other, the e-book, is much easier to access. All you have to do is get on your computer, go to the website of the publisher, or Fictionwise, Amazon, or wherever your publisher has chosen to sell your books, and then you pay your little bit, then download a file to your computer. Some download to readers, some to laptops, but it’s not a book you can actually hold in your hands. The good things are, they cost much less, they’re incredibly easy to get your hands on and fast, and there’s no trees cut to create the book. The downside is, you may not transfer that file without permission. It’s against the law to do so. You may not upload it to eBay. You may not give it to a friend.
When you purchase that file, it’s like you’ve purchased a program such as Windows XP. That program is non-transferable, right? You have code numbers to prove it’s your copy, right? Well, e-books don’t have the code, yet, but they are still a program you’ve bought for yourself and which is illegal to give to someone else.
Pirate sites may say they’re not doing any harm. They may tell you that you’re only allowed to download for personal use. They may tell you all kinds of pretty things, but, did they tell you that to download a copy of some author’s books is illegal? That if caught, you could wind up in court? Did they tell you that publishers strive to have their sites shut down, because the pirate is taking money not only from them, but from the authors?
That author, who you might think is making money hand over fist is most likely working a day job in order to pay for his or her writing career. There are very few Stephan King’s out there. Most authors make just enough to pay a bill or two and that’s it. Some authors, if they’re incredibly lucky, have a spouse who helps support them so they can write.
So please, if you’re tempted to download from one of those pirate sites, think about it. An e-book costs you what, $5 on average. That’s not a huge amount of money. Yet, to an author, it’s a much treasured sale. Many books cost a great deal less, some as little as a dollar. That really isn’t a lot and out of that dollar, the author will see less than half. Royalties aren’t huge. Again, I beg you; think about what that thoughtless download means to your favorite author. He or she loses money, each and every time someone downloads their books for free. That could mean that author won’t be able to keep writing. It could mean a publishing house isn’t making enough to carry on, and they go under.
If you’re brave enough, go one step further and pass the word along. Tell others that e-piracy is hurting authors. It’s taking their hard earned money right out of their hands. It could very well be killing a dream.
And here’s a little something more for you to think about.
FBI Anti-Piracy Warning:
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Want to report an e-pirate? Here's the email address and thank you for your help: