Posts Tagged ‘File Sharing’


Friday, August 31st, 2007

I think I’d be more excited if the DC didn’t have a soccer tournament this weekend. It’s been really hot, lately, triple digits and I don’t do well in the heat. We’re heading to a city that’s 10 degrees hotter than Petaluma. At least I don’t have to run around in it like the boys will. Still, nothing on Monday.

And, I can now start the count down to Vishous and Lover Unbound.

There’s a good hoo-ha going on now about SFWA and its boneheaded actions with an improper (from what I’ve heard) DCMA take-down notice to Scribd. Read about that in Cory Doctorow’s BoingBoing post. I laughed when I heard what they’d done. (I’ll come back later and stick in some links. Too late right now, I’m only holding out for the laundry). Only, really, it isn’t very funny. This whole DCMA thing is so completely stupid, and every bad thing smart people predicted would result from the DCMA has come to pass and worse. What a stupid-ass piece of Corporate-purchased legislation that was.

But here’s the thing: I don’t know where I stand on the whole file-sharing business. The entire issue is so unbelievably polarized between a Copyright is Evil faction (See, for example, Tech Dirt, a site that has an especial hatred for copyright) and the Protect our Corporate Profits faction (RIAA andMPAA) and I really just feel like people (writes and musicians etc) who create the stuff that gets copyrighted are stuck in the middle.

Copyright is not evil. It’s been around for hundreds of years because before there was copyright, authors, playwrights and musicians were ripped off. The creative folk are the Golden Goose, and copyright keeps corporations from killing us off. Copyright was the answer to an evil, so how can it be good to do away with it again?

I’m too tired to formulate an entire argument right now. But here’s my dilemma: I don’t know if it’s true that file sharing actually helps the holder of the copyrighted material that gets shared. I hear people say it. I’ve never seen proof.

I don’t make money writing unless people buy my books new. If readers have no incentive to buy new books, then I make no money and readers don’t get to read new stories. But I also think that punishing fans with stupid lawsuits seems like a bad thing. Some of my books are out of print, and so far I’m not too worked up about finding out someone scanned my books (I hope they did a good job!!) and posted them for downloading. I can see how that can bring me readers interested in my books that are in print. But does it? Or do the file-sharers wait for someone to hit the copy machine? Christine Feehan’s books are all in print (to my knowledge) Are the illegal copies on the net bringing her new fans who’ll shell out money for her books? Seems the obvious answer is no, cuz all the books of hers I’ve seen file-shared are still in print.

The Internet, so far, doesn’t touch the reach of print distribution. So does that mean it’s not a big deal? I’ve never heard what an Ellora’s Cave equivalent of a print run is. I know they’ve sold thousands of some titles, but I don’t believe they’ve ever sold hundreds of thousands of a title, let alone millions. Of course, 90% of writers would be happy with the thousands…

How does a writer make money writing if all her work is available for free? I’ve never seen ANYONE answer that question. I wish someone would explain to me whether and/or how a pool of free copies is good. Is the point that that pool of free copies will never exist to the exclusion of paid and that the consumers of free will never erode the pool of consumers who pay? Please, I wish someone would just calmly sit down and explain that without the political hysterics. Do file sharers ever convert to pay buyers?

That’s what I wanna know.