February 15, 2016

A Little Rant About Digital Piracy

While reviewing my e-mail yesterday, I became part of a conversation with some fellow authors. One of these authors had remarked on possibly being asked to sign a counterfeit version of his work.

Since I am now a "working writer" (meaning I write and I work), I also came across some illegal versions of my writing. So if anyone ever approaches me with an obviously bootlegged version of my work....well, here's the canned speech.

"Ok, so you downloaded this because...well, you couldn't afford the book. Well, I'm not going to sign it. Not even with an obviously fake name like "Martin Chuzzlewit" or "John Cleese".

Why? Because even though it's unintended, you're giving creators and artists the finger by bootlegging.

Let's take Black Bat Mystery - Volume 3 as an example - my fellow authors Gene Moyers, Greg Hatcher, and Erik Franklin put in a lot of time to craft their stories. I only know Greg through his work for Comics Should Be Good, and don't know Erik. I've met Gene at Windy City Pulp and Paper, and he's a gentleman and a scholar. 

Marco and Graham worked hard on providing some great art, and Ron and Rob and the Airship 27 editorial staff worked. And what's our reward?

Royalties. Your illegal download prevents us from earning money.

"But Gordon - books are expensive. I don't have money. Plus, information should be free"

Now, let's be clear - that book costs less than $20 regardless of format: Softcover, Kindle, and PDF. Purchased legally, we get the results of our hard work. Plus, you're screwing over a small business - it's one thing to download a television show for your own viewing. Not cool, given that many services stream, but that's a larger enterprise. By pirating this book, you're screwing over a smaller publisher.

(Same goes for my Pro Se work, and especially Dreamer's Syndrome: New World Navigation . I've never met Frank Byrns, Brent Lambert, Aidan Mohan, Brad Mengel, Greg Rose, or Eric Woodard. I've only talked with Mark Bousquet - my editor/publisher at Space Buggy - via e-mail. But choosing to download via dubious methods shortchanges many efforts to bring new, creative visions to others. 

(Good example - Big Finish once remarked that it stopped production on Sapphire & Steel audio dramas because more people were illegally downloading than were actually purchasing it. Since sales were low, they had to made a business decision....one which they probably did not want to make)

Besides, would you appreciate it if your employer asked you to work for free? Or worse, expected you to work for spec until they decided you were worth paying? You sure as heck wouldn't.

And if you're torrenting these books - please stop it. You're only doing it to line your own wallet at our expense. You're not doing us any favors, and quite frankly, you're disrupting our efforts to stay creative. I can't stop you from torrenting music, audio, etc, but consider that by doing so....you're not just breaking the law, but you're also hurting the very creators who are trying to bring great visions to life.

So why not buy an actual hard copy - or use your mobile device to order a Kindle or PDF - and I'll sign it. But I'm not going to openly endorse or condone bootlegging by signing something that I know is obtained illegally...and which adversely affects both me and my fellow creators.

And thus endeth the lecture."

So if you want to avoid having me shake my finger in that 'you-darn-kids-get-off-my-lawn manner'....well, you now know what to do.

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