author/novelist,  professional life

The ‘Content Should Be Free’ Mindset


Most of you know that I quit publishing more books because of piracy problems. Since then, I’ve done a lot of research on the subject.

The common indie author response to this problem is (paraphrasing): “Piracy is okay, because the people who download your book wouldn’t buy it anyway, so you’re not really losing any revenue, and, besides, it’s actually good because your work is being read and you’re potentially gaining fans.”  Then, of course, there’s the ‘content should be free’ people–people who think that ‘liberating’ (stealing) intellectual property isn’t wrong, at all–that any creation that doesn’t require tangible resources should be given away, the creators not compensated except maybe for voluntarily dumping some pennies into a tin cup…if that.

To which I now, after a whole year’s worth of intense research, say ‘bullshit’!

In March of 2016, I discovered that I had over fifteen thousand illegal downloads of two of my books. (The number has gone up a lot since then, btw.)  And my numbers aren’t but a scratch to what other authors, both indie and trad pubbed have suffered, even from just a single torrent site. For just one novel, from just one site, their numbers rank anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of downloads–that’s for a single title. (Luckily, my books appeal to very narrow niche of readers.)

Figure that out, even at pennies in royalties per copy, rather than several dollars in royalties, like my books are set,

So, a couple of days ago, I found out that my audiobook of OHL has also been pirated, an audiobook only available, supposedly, from Audible, an Amazon company that is very keen on protecting that content…and their attempts to foil pirates still failed.

So, now, after a year of research, picking the brains of experts in encryption, licensing, and in protecting against piracy, including the top, most successful company at protecting games, at least during the game’s initial month of release, which is all they’ll guarantee, it comes down to this: There is absolutely no way to prevent piracy, not of eBooks, not of games, not of music, videos, audiobooks, artwork…nothing…when they are offered for sale online.

One expert suggests that the best answer to combating piracy is to create a better delivery service to consumers. He cites Netflix as an example of his thinking–that Netflix makes it so cheap and easy to watch just about any movie or TV program you want with their huge catalog that you don’t bother trying to locate pirated versions or pirate them yourself.  I can see the logic, but, again, I say bullshit.

My take, after a year’s worth of research, is that It’s a mindset we’re doing battle with, the mindset that says “I should be able to get it all for free, and, if I can’t get it for free, then I’ll steal it and release it to everyone because content should be free.”

I wonder how these “content liberators” would feel if someone broke into their bank account and liberated all their cash to anybody and everybody.  You can bet they’d be REALLY upset.  Well, that’s exactly what they’re advocating, that’s exactly what they’re doing and supporting with my own and every other creative artist’s intellectual property when you and they pirate it, distribute it, and when you and they download those pirated copies.

Meanwhile, I’m still working on a solution to my dilemma of how to publish and release my creations and at least net enough to live on without my husband having to put his life in jeopardy every bloody day so we can make ends meet…and, yes, I do think I’ve come up with a solution.  It will take planning, it will take effort and time, but at least I won’t feel violated by hypocritical assholes.