Came across this on a random jaunt through cyberspace. The term ‘Book Pirate’ conjures up images of ancient mariners with monocles carefully following a finger across the pages of a leather bound volume while a parrot looks over his shoulder and annoyingly screeches in his ear and he tries to balance his feet on a rolling deck. Water spraying about etc.
Actually, he is more likely to be a hunched over dude ardently scanning pages of books while he watches a movie or two. He probably has a tendency to hang around chat rooms with other book pirates while he is physically in his dinghy room, which will have rows and rows of shelves of books lining the walls. He is probably closer to his Amazon Kindle than most of us are to the skin of our ass cheeks.
OK i’ll stop stereotyping. Intellectual property pirates are Robin Hoods to us Third Worlders anyway. How many of us rely on them for movies, music, software and games? I am not a big fan of e-books because they are a pain to read on an LCD screen but they are extremely useful when you want to read something you are not prepared to spend money on. Or you want to pretend to be working. Or need to avoid the hassle of carrying a book around with you.
The interview also raises some interesting arguments and points widely used to justify/ rationalize/ belittle the issue of the impact of piracy, or in this case book piracy.
1) With digital copies, what is ‘stolen’ is not as clear as with physical copies – mainly because copying a file is not in the same league of stealing as say, stealing a book.
2) Just because someone downloads a file, it does not mean they would have bought the product. Also goes along with the argument that just because someone downloaded it free is no reason to assume he’d have been willing to pay good money for it.
3) Just because someone downloads a file, it doesn’t mean they will read it. Presumably, people read books they actually buy, because money ensures you allocate your resources efficiently.
4) People feel less inclined to think of it as ‘stealing’ if they think they are stealing from a faceless corporate entity like a record company or a publishing house. Guilt steps in if they think that the bulk of the money is going to the author, but then they think of Multimillionaire authors and that dies down a bit also.
5) It’s OK to pirate books that are out of print or movies that are old and rare. This way, you are just distributing the product without making an impact on the revenues of the IP rights owner, since they are not selling it in any way to begin with.
Now obviously, all these arguments have holes in them and cannot be completely justified. But i also think industries that rely on media that is easily copied and redistributed need to find some way to adapt and survive to the changing conditions of the market. If they don’t, they will simply die out to be replaced by alternatives.