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Novelist Blames Piracy On Open Source Culture

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the this-gentleman-clearly-grasps-his-subject-matter dept.

Books 494

joeflies writes "CNN published an article entitled 'Digital Piracy Hits the e-Book Industry.' It quotes the following statement by novelist Sherman Alexie: 'With the open-source culture on the Internet, the idea of ownership — of artistic ownership — goes away. It terrifies me.'" The article also points out a couple of interesting statistics for a "slumping" industry beset by piracy: "Sales for digital books in the second quarter of 2009 totaled almost $37 million. That's more than three times the total for the same three months in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers," and "consumers who purchase an e-reader buy more books than those who stick with traditional bound volumes. Amazon reports that Kindle owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers."

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What do you expect. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622128)

from someone that doesn't understand technology?

Re:What do you expect. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622326)

(CNNNN) -- When Dan Brown's blockbuster novel "The Lost Symbol" hit stores in September, it may have offered a peek at the future of bookselling.

On Amazon.com, the book sold more digital copies for the Kindle e-reader in its first few days than hardback editions. This was seen as something of a paradigm shift in the publishing industry, but it also may have come at a cost.

Less than 24 hours after its release, printed paperback copies of the novel were found in library sites such as the New Your public library. Within days, it had been read for free more than 100,000 times.

Library loans, long confined to books, are spreading to music and movies. And as electronic reading devices such as Amazon's Kindle, the Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble's Nook, smartphones and Apple's much-anticipated "tablet" boost demand for books, experts say the problem may only get worse.

"It's fair to say that loaning of books is exploding," said Dilbert Drongo, an industry expert and professor of marketing at Fordham University.

Sales for library books in the second quarter of 2009 totaled almost $37 million. That's more than three times the total for the same three months in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Statistics are hard to come by, and many publishers are reluctant to discuss the subject for fear of encouraging more libraries. But library loans may pose a big headache in 2010 for the slumping publishing industry, which relies increasingly on electronic reading devices and e-books to stimulate sales.

"Libraries are a serious issue for publishers," said Carnt Hakkit Book Group in a statement. The company that publishes Stephenie Meyer's wildly popular "Twilight" teen-vampire series says it "considers copyright protection to be of paramount importance."

Authors are concerned as well.

"I'd be really worried if I were Stephen King or James Patterson or a really big bestseller that when their books become completely lendable, how easy it's going to be to loan them," said novelist and poet Sherman Dyslexie on Stephen Colbert's show last month.

"With the open-door culture of the Library, the idea of ownership -- of artistic ownership -- goes away," Dyslexie added. "It terrifies me."

And it's not just bestsellers that are targeted by librarians.

"Textbooks are frequently loaned, but so are many other categories," said Ed McCoyd, director of dubious policy at AAP. "We see shelving of professional content, such as medical books and technical guides; we see a lot of general fiction and non-fiction. So it really runs the gamut."

Lending of music, thanks to cassette, CDs and other devices, has been a threat to recording companies for more than a decade. Over the years, the record companies tried different approaches to combat library loaning, from shutting down free publicity to encrypting songs with digital-rights management software to suing individual customers.

Although legal lending of music persists, Apple's online iTunes store is now the world's biggest seller of music.

To some industry observers, this may be where the future of the book industry is heading as well. But talk to publishers and authors about what can be done to combat libraries, and you'll get a wide range of opinions.

Some publishers may try to minimize lending by delaying releases of books for several weeks after digital copies go on sale. Simon & Schuster recently did just that with Snorkel King's novel, "Under the Aquadome," although the publisher says the decision was made to prevent cheaper e-versions from cannibalizing hardcover sales.

Some authors have even gone as far as to shrug off physical book technology altogether. J.K. Pot has thus far refused to make any of her Hairy Porter books available physically because of library fears and a desire to see readers experience her books in pixels.

However, some evidence suggests that authors' and publishers' claims of damage from libraries may be overstated.

Recent statistics have shown that consumers who purchase a library card buy more books than those who stick with traditional downloads. Barnesy & Knobble reports that library card owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers.

Ana Reva Derchhi, publisher for Markup Media at HawkerColumns, told CNNNN, "we have to be vigilant in our punishment ... but much more attractive is to simply organize mass book burnings, legally."

Library technology offers so many positives for both the author and the consumer that any revenue lost to lending may just be a necessary evil, she said.

"Consumers who invest in one of these dedicated library cards tend to load up and read more," said Alleggi. "And what's wrong with that?"

Re:What do you expect. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622548)

It is worse than that -- the person in question doesn't even know what is happening in his own profession. From TFA,

"I'd be really worried if I were Stephen King..."

Stephen King has already released a no-DRM ebook and made a lot of money from it, by releasing it piece by piece and requiring a certain minimum number of paid downloads before the next part of the story is released; this was discontinued because King himself could not figure out where to take the story. Perhaps if these people spent less time whining about how their fans are not paying their publishers, they could be more aware of how the Internet can change things and how they can use computers to publish their stories in new ways, connect with their fans, and provide their books to more people.

Re:What do you expect. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622558)

From a writer who has no idea how technology works [wikipedia.org] you can expect kickass cyberpunk books! If, and only if, he has a good imagination.

If your books don't sell, don't blame piracy. Blame the books.

Re:What do you expect. (3, Insightful)

Dan541 (1032000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622636)

It's standard routine. If your business fails blame someone else.

Poor broadband on the Rez? (2, Interesting)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622142)

Wikipedia says much of his writing comes from his experiences growing up on the rez. Maybe a talk with Cory Doctorow would change his mind.

No shit. Duh. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622146)

Maybe if the consumer didn't feel ripped off, exploited, and raped by every business and company they have to deal with we'd be more receptive and less possessive of whatever goods we happen to come across. Half the damn stuff in my house I don't really own, I license or lease or rent it or whatever. Damn right I like the idea of open source and control.

BZZZZT WRONG (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622150)

Almost every aspect of open source/creative commons etc. requires attribution, and even pirates don't bother removing credits. Your 'artistic ownership' goes nowhere.

Re:BZZZZT WRONG (2, Interesting)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622646)

Almost every aspect of open source/creative commons etc. requires attribution, and even pirates don't bother removing credits. Your 'artistic ownership' goes nowhere.

However, his royalties may. Sooner or later we will have to consider, as a culture, what to do if established authors, and promising young authors, decide to abandon writing because too many freeloaders reduce author profits below subsistence. I'm not talking about the **AAs, I'm talking about individual authors who may have contracts with reputable publishing houses that do not insist on exploitive relationships. And what about the psychological deterrent to creativity? JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book in desperation on welfare. Might she have done so if she believed her work would be distributed freely without any compensation to her?

Do we want promising youths to avoid careers in writing because online distribution has hurt profitability? Would J.D. Salinger, John Updike, Norman Mailer have enriched our lives if they needed other jobs? And Robert Heinlein said that many of his stories were written "to buy groceries".

Without some requirement to pay for books, would enough people do so?

Since a large part of the US's trade brings our nation income from royalties on Hollywood movies, is it possible we need to make sure what we produce has value in the world market to improve our balance of trade and thereby reduce inflation and unemployment? Of course the answer is yes-- so maybe the question we should be asking is how to puncture the evil media conglomerates (like the **AAs) to make sure the wealth from our nation's creative minds does not unduly concentrate wealth and power.

I say we are in danger of devaluing books, for instance, to the point of discouraging authors-- and harming our entire nation by stripping the value from music and movies simply because we want the money we pay to be distributed more fairly to the creators. We should not fight to keep online distribution free unless we also fight to create new systems of direct compensation to authors and not to middlemen.

But what about the harm to books and to the confidence of new authors happening RIGHT NOW.... what do we do BEFORE we have a system of direct compensation in place?

Re:BZZZZT WRONG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622726)

It's starting to look like that being an artist (of any kind) is no longer a job.

When you don't understand something... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622174)

It's simple: don't offer your unfounded opinion.

Clearly people pirate books they wouldn't have bought... I know one kid who has like 4000 ebooks, he's probably read two of. Also, making them "more" digitized doesn't matter. When there's one digital copy, there's 10,000,000. They are right about one thing, making them easier to buy (and part of easier means less copy protection) will mean they will sell more.

Just look how iTunes completely stopped selling anything when they started offering non-copy-protected books - oh wait, they didn't.

Re:When you don't understand something... (2, Informative)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622264)

There's a 5GB ebook archive on the Pirate Bay with thousands of ebooks all RARed up, it's easier to download the whole thing and just extract the ones you're interested in.

Or so they tell me...

Re:When you don't understand something... (4, Interesting)

Demena (966987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622304)

The books I respect I buy in hard cover, largely Pratchett and reference books The ones that will enjoy and read casually I want to carry around I buy in paperback. If they really wanted to promote sales they would include an electronic copy with the purchase. I don't pirate (really) so there are very few that I have in electronic form. The ones I have are very largely from Tor. The ones that I really enjoy I will buy in paperback or hard copy. Tor publishers have effectively proved that giving books away get them more sales. Many times I have read a book provided online and then bought the entire series in paperback or hardcover.

Re:When you don't understand something... (2)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622572)

When I want a particular book then I check for availability of an eBook copy first. No book I have wanted has ever been available in eBook format. Something tells me that I'm not in the eBook target market -- I wonder how many open source proponents are?

Re:When you don't understand something... (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622600)

The books I respect I buy in hard cover, largely Pratchett and reference books The ones that will enjoy and read casually I want to carry around I buy in paperback. If they really wanted to promote sales they would include an electronic copy with the purchase.

As an example of this, last time I bought a hardbound Honor Harrington novel, a CD was included with electronic copies of ALL the Honor Harrington books. Very nice, wish more publishers than Baen would do that.

Re:When you don't understand something... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622534)

So it's ok to steal, as long as you steal more than you could possibly have bought legitimately otherwise? Sounds great. I guess you'll have no problems then with me pirating millions of dollars worth of money. It's not like I could have earnt it legitimately anyway. And if they just made money easier to make, I wouldn't have to.

His publishers are a bigger problem... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622178)

I just checked the kindle store; He has five books available there.

I then checked amazon.com and found pages and pages of paper books of his.

Now, why would people pirate his books?

Perhaps because they aren't legally available in ebook format?

Re:His publishers are a bigger problem... (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622598)

exactly. Piracy is an economic problem. If you have piracy then you have an major imbalance in your supply and demand chain. Try to fix that first before blaming everyone else.

People wanted portable music files on their computers and they got them where ever they could. movies, ebooks etc offer what they people really want and they will mostly buy the legal copies.

Even in somlia the piracy is an economic problem. 20 hijackers get a million plus dollars for 2-3 months of work. it breaks down to each getting some $20,000 who then spend that money on the locals $20,000 for three months work isn't bad by USA standards in somlia it worth a lot more. especially since one can't get harmed by international maritime law. They feed you a meal better than you have had in weeks, give you a quiet place to sleep while they detain you for a while and then let you go.

Solve the economic demand side of the product and realize that your not supplying things that there are honest markets for.

Just missing the right term (4, Insightful)

Chysn (898420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622180)

There's really no critique of open source here. He said "open source," but he's just throwing the term around without knowing what "open source culture" is. He clearly means something along the lines of "peer-to-peer" culture.

Re:Just missing the right term (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622432)

He clearly means something along the lines of "peer-to-peer" culture.

Exactly. We have to find a way to stop peers talking to each other. It only breeds discontent and piracy.

Re:Just missing the right term (1)

Darfeld (1147131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622480)

Agreed. Ones again people will confuse things and diabolise a those two things with a single name. Kinda sad... And I'm sure some people will make anything to make it worse...

CNN publishes such a story? NOT surprizing to us! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622186)

When has CNN ever been considered to be an objective news provider?

And this is a suprise ? (3, Insightful)

amck (34780) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622190)

ebook readers buy more paper books than other readers, and this is a suprise ?

Someone who is willing to spend 200-400 dollars on a e-reader is already a heavy reader, practically by definition. As much as I love my e-reader, there are a bunch of books its not good for - photo books, textbooks (no, A4 pdfs on a Sony e-reader are not a good option.) And for my favourite authors, i'll buy the hardback and get it signed by the author, and then lend to friends.

Re:And this is a suprise ? (1)

tonycheese (921278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622746)

Someone who is willing to spend 200-400 dollars on a e-reader is already a heavy reader, practically by definition.

On top of that, I don't know any bookworms who go to amazon to buy books that often. Amazon is more for buying books as a gift or if you have a very specific book in mind. I would much rather go to the bookstore than look through best-selling lists on amazon if I weren't buying e-books.

Isn't the Library already a way to get books free? (2, Insightful)

taloobie (537189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622192)

Gosh... books have been free to read for a very long time. It's called a library. So if authors and publishers are worried about piracy of books why don't they cut libraries off? Gimme a break. There are many ways to use the digital mediums ease of distribution to make money/protect artistic ownership. Publishers should consider giving away a very basic digital version of a book, could even make it time sensitive. It would be very cool and very useful to have a world wide public library. Perhaps that seems unreasonable to police... but the reality is people can get whatever written material they want without buying it from a Borders store... and that isn't because of "ebooks". been this way for a very long time. The great books will be purchased by enough people to make money (my gosh, how many copies of LOTR, the Bible, etc. does everyone own... and those books are very easy to get for free!)

Re:Isn't the Library already a way to get books fr (1)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622568)

There is one problem with your argument. Libraries pay to have books on their shelves, they don't just get them for free. So it is apples to oranges.

Re:Isn't the Library already a way to get books fr (1)

taloobie (537189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622736)

Of course! The point is, to the end reader they are free! (right, i know, taxes or some other funding provides the resources for the library)...

The author and publishers that are fearful of people pirating their books are irrationally afraid of ebooks and not afraid enough of libraries, based on their viewpoints.

Another point - It's just not sexy or good PR to tell the libraries to take the books out of circulation. ;) It is good buzz to yell at Amazon.

Essentially Google Books is attempting to be what I suggest. I think Google Books will eventually succeed and authors / publishers will get a cut of revenue from advertising and/or subscriptions.

The folks that are trying to kill of digital distribution or cripple it will never win with books. Never in the history of mankind has trying to limit distribution succeeded. The only way to make money in content is to give people BETTER ways to get at content - higher fidelity experiences (movie theaters) OR easier and easier access (itunes, pandora, magnatunes).

One last point that I didn't want to get mixed up in... people generally pay for GREAT content. It's the produces of SWILL that complain the most about piracy. The only way bad content can make money long term is by bait and switch, forced distribution... The business of bad content isn't content, it's arbitrage. Piracy really hurts arbitrage and that's what people are complaining about. Again, go back to my examples of LOTR, Bible, add to those Charles Dickens, Plato, etc. etc. these books are STILL routinely top sellers even though you can EASILY get ecopies, print copies and what not for free.

Re:Isn't the Library already a way to get books fr (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622578)

Gosh... books have been free to read for a very long time. It's called a library. So if authors and publishers are worried about piracy of books why don't they cut libraries off

In many countries libraries pay a fee to authors each year in order to compensate them for the lost sales.

Re:Isn't the Library already a way to get books fr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622722)

Lost sales? If I borrow the book from the library, chances are I wouldn't have bought it in the first place.

sounds familiar (1, Interesting)

phrostie (121428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622194)

Sounds Familiar, just like when people complain that the publishing industry has become like the movie industry, controlled by a select few.
like when people complain that books cost too much. sound familiar,,,,.
too many writers are having to turn to self publishing because the publishing industry is trying to play OPEC/MPAA.

when my favorite writers put out a book i buy it. they just don't as often as i'd like and the new writers that are getting fronted i'm not impressed by.

Re:sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622234)

I also don't get the "Too Expensive" argument, except with Text Books. If you think it's too expensive, don't buy it. They will price the book where supply meets demand if they possibly can, which means it won't be "too expensive" in the economic sense. If it's more than you would like to pay for it, well that's probably because it's not $0.

Text-books are another matter, because you basically have to buy them, and there is no "alternative good" available when the teacher is assigning questions out of the book for homework.

Re:sounds familiar (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622640)

When it comes to mass-market paperbacks, the current $8-10 for a wimpy little 500 page fiction book is at least $3-4 too expensive for something I'll get maybe a few hours of enjoyment out of.

And given recent books, I'll only get that enjoyment maybe 3/4 of once.

Open Source (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622198)

Haven't books really been open source all along anyway? They're not always copyright free, but anyone can read them.

people like free stuff (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622214)

I don't see what open source has to do with it. People, in general, like getting something for nothing. Most people could care less about copyright. If anything, the open source movement educates people about copyright. The first thing people always ask is 'how can this be free?'.

bought 3.1 times as many books.. from Amazon! (3, Insightful)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622222)

Comparing ebooks to physical book sales is obviously stupid, because Amazon can't track how many physical books I bought at local chains, or the used shop downtown.

Re:bought 3.1 times as many books.. from Amazon! (3, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622556)

Nor do they have the ability to track your ebook purchases from other websites!

...

But really, your point is moot. Amazon can and only tracks sales from within their own domain, which doesn't make their point "obviously stupid". Their customers buy 3.1 more ebooks on average. They have a shit ton more customers than your used shop or local chains, I would wager. In fact, I doubt most of those shops even sell ebooks. I hope next time you remember that when a website or a chain says, "consumers did this more than this", and you know they can't track from other vendors, it's implied that they mean their own customers.

Re:bought 3.1 times as many books.. from Amazon! (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622686)

Amazon isn't the only place to buy ebooks either. The only safe stats they have are what they sell which is why they've used kindle stats vs physical books sold through Amazon.

Let me paraphrase that (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622232)

'With the more egalitarian culture in the North, the idea of ownership — of negro ownership — goes away. It terrifies me.'"

The loss of something isn't inherently bad. That a change terrifies someone you might respect does not make it bad.

Kinda late (1)

F0RR (1464631) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622244)

I mean, i started reading my totally illegal ebooks, like, 6-7 years ago. So, what is this all about?

Join us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622256)

You will be assimilated.
Resistance is futile!

Kindle owners probably do not buy more books (1)

sackvillian (1476885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622258)

than non-kindle owners as TFA implied.

...consumers who purchase an e-reader buy more books than those who stick with traditional bound volumes. Amazon reports that Kindle owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers.

Consider how many sources exist for buying bound books, Amazon not being a particularly great one, and how many sources there are for eBooks for Kindle, especially for the technically un-inclined. That's a whopping selection bias!

Re:Kindle owners probably do not buy more books (1)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622588)

I'm finding that I'm buying slightly more kindle books than paper books these days (not a huge number, but still more), and part of that is due to price. Many new titles on Kindle are $9.99 - I can spend a bit more and get a paper version which I'll enjoy more, or can send to the library or a friend or whatever. I'm finding some kindle books that are only a few bucks ($3-$5) which strike my fancy, and I buy them for that price. Easier than heading to the store, often to pay *more* than the $5ish ebook cost. For me, $4.99 and under is a good price point for most ebooks, as it takes away most considerations for determining if something is "worth it" or not.

I blame Ford (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622266)

..for bank robberies. Lets pass a bunch of laws making it illegal to drive, then banks will be safe.

Elimination of artificial scarcity terrifies him (5, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622270)

"With the open-source culture on the Internet, the idea of taxpayer-funded artificial scarcity - of artistic monopoly -- goes away. It terrifies me." There, fixed that for you, Mr. Alexie.

Re:Elimination of artificial scarcity terrifies hi (3, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622466)

Open source licenses rely on the same system and are just as taxpayer-funded as "all rights reserved". There's a lot to criticize in his statements, but misleading data (as in the summary) or extremism like yours doesn't serve the cause. We-have-a-right-to-everything-for-free is not going to convince the general public, politicians and courts that copyright reform is necessary. The focus should be limited copyright terms (12 years is what I've read maximizes the public benefit) and strong fair use rules. If we want to get there, defending piracy and ridiculing artists isn't helpful.

Re:Elimination of artificial scarcity terrifies hi (2, Interesting)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622554)

"With the open-source culture on the Internet, the idea of taxpayer-funded artificial scarcity - of artistic monopoly -- goes away."

I've always wondered why so many people on slashdot find the right to profit of your creation to be such a bad thing. (I.e. artificial scarcity). It's especially odd for a site full of software engineers .etc. whose livelihood often depends on artificial scarcity.

Take the iPhone for example. The materials that go into making an iPhone and those that go into making your average run of the mill phone are certainly not different enough to justify the price difference. The real difference is in the design - I.e. pure information with effectively no-limits to the amount it can be copied. Yet another company can't just use that information without Apple's permission - I.e. they can't just go off an make their own iPhone. Is this "taxpayer-funded artificial scarcity" bad?

Or take Windows or any other peace of commercial software. It's purely information so the fact that I'm not free to copy and use it as much as I want must be "taxpayer-funded artificial scarcity". Is this bad?

The point is that making this information takes very real time and effort, whether it's designing a phone (or car or whatever), writing software, making a movie/song, or in this case writing a book. So what is so wrong with people having the right to demand payment for allowing people to utilise (Be it for entertainment, business or whatever) the information they have worked hard to create?

Now I'm not saying there shouldn't be limits to this right. But it seems that a lot of people just shout "Artificial scarcity" at anyone who raises their voice against piracy or whatever.

Now as for this guy, I think correlating the open source movement and piracy is stupid. People pirate stuff because they want things for free and the risks are so low. That's human nature, with or without the open-source movement.

Re:Elimination of artificial scarcity terrifies hi (1, Troll)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622642)

Well the thing is that a non-trivial amount of people on Slashdot aren't software engineers or the like. Many of them are unemployed college student types. They've never had a real job, or have had nothing but a menial job. They haven't really given their position much thought, it is just a kind of general parroting of the "Information wants to be free, man!" slogan without real consideration. They've never had to support themselves so the consideration of how one does so hasn't really entered their mind.

So a question for you (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622590)

What would you propose as a replacement? See we have an interesting quandary: We like creative works of all sorts. A massive part of our entertainment comes from this and these days we even need it for other things. So we want people to be able to work on "virtual goods" as it were. Well, these people still need to eat. They need physical goods to be able to do their work. That means they need to get paid. So what do you do about that? There is our current system, where we declare virtual goods to work like real goods. You have to pay for each copy you want. This works pretty nicely in a capitalist economy. It encourages people to make works that others want, allows them to support themselves doing so if they are good, gives more rewards the greater the demand for a work is and so on.

So, let's say you do away with that. You say "Information scarcity is artificial, from now on, all information can be copied freely." Ok, how then do the creators of it eat? What do they do to make money? Their works are no longer viable. This means they have to get other jobs, their creative works can only be a hobby. The "Well just sell support!" that is often parroted for software doesn't work at all in these other areas.

You run in to the very real problem that we want people to spend their time creating works that are nothing but information. However, if you want them to do that, you need to pay them. So if you want to eliminate the concept of IP and have all information be unrestricted, you've got to come up with a system for how to compensate the people who spend their time making it.

He blames piracy on open source culture yet (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622276)

he keeps on using internet for everything. he doesnt object to being linked in forums/content sites using open source scripts for their engine, he doesnt object to using google, which not only uses numerous open source elements to power its operation but also provides open source back to the community, he probably is thrilled when someone gets to buy his books by finding him the through the searches google provides, and many many more.

well, see, mr novelist, apparently you either dont know zit on what you are writing about, or just one of those who want everything self-centric.

if you want to prove otherwise, drop your usage of ANYthing that includes open source. including google, any and all links it provides to your novels/ebooks, any potential traffic/sales you get from forums/sites using phpbb and the similar open source engines. and then lets talk. else, youre just another bastard to us.

Re:He blames piracy on open source culture yet (3, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622500)

The quoted novelist appears to have used an unfortunate choice of words - he probably means "non-respecting-of-intellectual-property culture" rather than "open-source culture". The distinction is obvious to most slashdot readers, but presumably not to this novelist. The quote does not indicate that he has any problems with open-source software, I would imagine that his complaint is more about sites like Pirate Bay than Google.

The real story should be. . . (5, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622292)

You know, I'm always. . . impressed. . . by the ability of the 'news' media (and people in general) to turn things around completely ass-backwards. The anecdote that the CNN story leads off with is about the Dan Brown book "The Lost Symbol". The book sold millions of copies, but was pirated over a hundred thousand times in the first few days. To me, that says "9 out of 10 People willing to pay for stuff they *could* have downloaded for free". The *real* story, which CNN apparently wishes to ignore, is that the vast majority of people are honest, and wish to pay the authors whose books they like, *instead* of pirating. The *real* story is the pirates are the vast minority of people. Of course, that doesn't generate page views.

As for Sherman Alexie . . . why do I care if he (she?) is terrified? People get terrified about all sorts of irrational things. Many children are terrified of the dark. Why do I care if someone is irrationally terrified of something?

Re:The real story should be. . . (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622404)

You know, I'm always. . . impressed. . . by the ability of the 'news' media (and people in general) to turn things around completely ass-backwards.

No worries! If you're right, all even-numbered rehashings of a story get it completely right!

Re:The real story should be. . . (1)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622470)

The craziest thing is we have libraries. Generally, if you want to read a paper book for free you can do so. A while back I got stuck in a weird dilemma. I wanted to reread "Of mice and men". Sort of. Not enough to pay for it. I wanted an ebook copy. There were none legally at the time. I grabbed a non-legal one. I considered buying a copy, just to keep thing even. Then I realized the local library had a copy. Except of course it's a bit dumb to use *their* copy, just so that I have legal access to the text so that I don't feel bad about grabbing an illegal e-version. When it comes to a head like that, the absurdity becomes pretty clear. They're in no more jeopardy then when the Gutenberg press started. Chill and roll with the times.

Re:The real story should be. . . (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622560)

The *real* story is the pirates are the vast minority of people

You mean to say that there are lots and lots of pirates, even if they aren't the majority? Maybe 49% is a vast minority. 10% might be a small minority vast is the opposite of tiny.

Re:The real story should be. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622564)

Because there is a potential multi-billion dollar market involved in the intellectual property protection racket, which caters to that fear.

Sofware Piracy/Intellectual Property is the new "Terrorism!" being spun by the spindoctors in washington DC, and being pumped into the legislatures of other nations via shyster trade agreements they have made with our twisted government.

The other one is the whole "Green" movement. (Clarification, I am all for being more energy efficient and environmentally conscious, but I am not for increased legislation whose apparent sole purpose is to increase the obstacle to entry into the world marketplace, thus securing wealth for the already extant multinational corporations, which is likely to be one of the side effects of the cap and trade shell game that is being proposed.)

The blunt end of the sick is that this author's irrational fears fuel an agenda which IMPACTS you in a very real and dangerous way, and so you SHOULD be concerned about his bullshit political sortie, just as much if not more so than your concern over the presentation bias of the NewsCorp news outlets.

I don't like sounding like a paranoid conspiracy theorist, but you would have to be absurdly stupid to think that the media and publishing industries are not SERIOUSLY trying to pinch the government's ears over "free content" that the internet is currently able to provide. (It directly competes with their paid-services model, and is thus a threat.) This is exactly why they included the "open source" comment when it is not really applicable; it's a guilt by association logical fallacy intended to try and shoehorn public opinion away from a perfectly legal and legitimate market group toward a buy-in/lock-in model that they find preferential. It's propaganda, pure and simple.

If there is propaganda, there is an agenda, and people who are actively pushing that agenda. Propaganda for no express purpose is nonsense, since it just creates noise in the advertisement channel, which is something that Newscorp and Co. (Hollywood, et al.) have invested a great deal of research money into. (effective advertisement, that is.)

For this reason, you are left with the nasty situation where some kind of conspiracy, (even if poorly hidden) must exist, with the goal of reshaping public interest and through that public interest chink, legitimizing bullshit IP laws that they would like to see enacted; otherwise they would never have gotten the green-light from their advertisement execs, since bad-mouthing open source would be wildly unpopular, given the rising popularity of the method. (Just look at the responses here on slashdot.)

The problem is that most of the public is uneducated about just what "Open source" is about, and have a hard time accepting that you can get a valuable commodity literally for free, and that the organizations that produce these products can continue to do this without imploding. It is this incredulity that this propoganda is trying to target, by painting a picture that OSS as a culture gets offset by illegal benefits from piracy, rather than being corporately sponsored (Google and IBM), or created exclusively by volunteers (Most other projects).

If they can make that false connection with the general public, it will sour the milk, and make FOSS much harder to evangelize, while simultaneously reinforcing their own farce: That you get what you pay for, and that only by paying can you guarantee quality products.

Really, we shouldn't turn a blind and apathetic eye to this kind of shenanigan.

Re:The real story should be. . . (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622610)

The *real* story, which CNN apparently wishes to ignore, is that the vast majority of people are honest, and wish to pay the authors whose books they like, *instead* of pirating.

Not to mention "in addition to", I don't remember the last time I bought a DVD/BluRay without already having seen the movie or series. But I'll gladly admit there's things I haven't paid for, particularly if I'd rather like a refund of the time I wasted on it.

Re:The real story should be. . . (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622712)

Many children are terrified of the dark. Why do I care if someone is irrationally terrified of something?

If my child was terrified of the dark, I'd try to help them conquer their fear and show them the dark is nothing to be afraid of.

An ignorant novelist (and indeed anyone with a misguided opinion) can also be treated in the same manner. Otherwise, they'll continue to harbor the same hatred and pass on the hatred to others. It's in our best interests to nip it in the bud, particularly if they're influential.

Re:The real story should be. . . (3, Insightful)

webdog314 (960286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622738)

I have to wonder though, about those millions of people who bought "The Lost Symbol"... It would be easy to assume that they did so because they are good and honest people. But it could simply be that 9 out of 10 people don't have any idea where to find pirated digital books, or have access to do so.

In my eyes, the publishing market has always been about convenience. People, in general will pay for something if it is convenient for them to do so. As soon as it becomes more convenient to simply download it off the net (including the risk of breaking the law) they will. Sure, there are still lots of people willing to then buy the book after reading a pirated copy, but I'd be willing to bet it's a LOT less than 9 out of 10.

He should give his book away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622312)

... and charge for support.

Enough said.

Tie to Open Source is unsubstantiated (2, Insightful)

RunzWithScissors (567704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622314)

The people I know and work with in the open source community are probably the most piracy conscious people I know, mostly because of jack holes like this guy. It bugs the hell out of me that people always tie open source and piracy when in fact, there could be nothing further from the truth. I'm the first one to pay for things like GAMES for Linux, or quality e-books because I want people to produce more of them! And honestly, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get paid for your work.

I think ultimately this has nothing to do with Open Source and everything to do with people wanting something for nothing, and if they can get it, they'll take full advantage. Likely the tie to Open Source comes from the fact that people who are extremely cost conscious are going to prefer Open Source products because they align with their pricing criteria (The same way illegal copies of products align with their pricing criteria)

-Runz

Newsflash: Open source is voluntary! (1)

Xaximus (1361711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622318)

Or did I miss the law that proclaims artistic ownership to be illegal?

His book(s) are practically required reading (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622336)

In HS and many MANY college sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, etc. his books are required reading. So he's not hurting either way.

A bunk argument... (1)

adosch (1397357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622342)

What is really humorous to begin with is... is this even news? FTFA, "...Digital piracy, long confined to music and movies, is spreading to books." Uh, e-book piracy has been huge for the last 6-8 years if not more (newsgroup book flood posts, anyone?) I've been reading/collecting e-books for some time when I'm in a hurry and don't want to sit in the uber-long lines at Barnes-and-Noble or equivalent, but guess what I do? I either pay the little extra money to have my e-book print and bound professionally if I use it a lot or I just find the real book online for the cheapest price. The point I am making is there is a nostalgia associated with having a tangible book to flip through, bookmark, come back to reference, read again, read to your kids for the first time, etc. That's why I have (and the rest of the good world) has shelves full of tangible books at home.
Since we're on the topic of e-readers, like the Amazon Kindle, let's look at their target audience and why people are using them in the first place: Convenience, timeliness and information readiness. If I can use my e-reader to subscribe to my favorite XYZ newspaper and have it 'digitally' delivered to my kitchen table next to my hot cup of coffee, why the hell would I walk my ass outside in the snow to go pick it up off my driveway because the lazy delivery boy didn't want to put it in my delivery box? Same goes for wanting to buy that favorite/popular/just-released book and you don't want to stand in line at midnight to get it? Doesn't mean you won't go buy the hard-copy later on if that literary piece happens to be something you enjoyed enough to have as a tangible keepsake on your bookshelf, does it? And to end it, how many of those people are going to crack their Kindle with 'Swindle'? A few, but not the majority, because I don't mind paying for convenience, timeliness and information readiness once in a while.

If the formula is flawed the result means nothing (1, Flamebait)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622360)

"Less than 24 hours after its release, pirated digital copies of the novel were found on file-sharing sites such as Rapidshare and BitTorrent. Within days, it had been downloaded for free more than 100,000 times."

As usual this person makes the very false assumption that 100,000 downloads equals 100,000 lost sales, when in reality it is more likely that close to 100,000 people who would have never bought the book are now reading Dan Brown when they never would have otherwise. This will most likely result in increased sales for Dan Brown in the future as these people ask others "have you read ...", and those people who haven't opt to buy the book and read it, just as happens in the music industry. You can't count someone downloading something they would never have paid for otherwise as a lost sale, and the kind of free advertising they are getting would be otherwise extermely costly.

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622532)

There are 3 times that people pirate:

1) When they can't afford it.
This is -never- a lost sale.

2) When they can't get it in the format they need it in.
This is a lost sale because the creator does not look after the needs of his audience. If it's not available via piracy in the format they need, it's still not a sale for the creator. It can only because a sale if the creator suddenly realizes the need and fulfills it.

3) When they have absolutely no respect for the property of others and just want everything free.
This is only a lost sale if piracy can be absolutely eradicated, since this person will always choose to pirate it, even if it's more work... AND if the first 2 don't apply.

The number of people that fit #3 that doesn't fit #1 and #2 is vanishingly small. It would require a perhaps that is morally bankrupt. They exist, but there just isn't that many of them. (They get in the news all the time, though, so it seems like there are a lot more than there are.)

So yes, piracy does, in a few cases, mean a lost sale. But for the most part, it just indicates that the creator doesn't know his audience, or that there was no chance of a sale in the first place.

Personally, my shelves at home are covered in things I bought that I would not have even known about if it weren't for piracy when I was young and broke. It's probably too much for individual authors to have a holistic viewpoint about piracy, but I know that anime companies in Japan understand it. Most of them turn a blind eye to piracy and use it for free advertising. Some of them eventually turn that eye back and ask the pirates to stop, but this is only once world-wide distribution starts. By then, the free advertising is over with and they've gotten about as much as they can from it. Notice that I say 'ask' and not 'take legal action', too. Because in that world, the pirates (for the most part) respect the companies as well. It's been that way for decades now and shows no signs of falling apart.

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (2, Insightful)

matthewmacleod (1711466) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622540)

He didn't make any such assumption. You can't put words into people's mouths then complain that they're wrong!

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622654)

FTA: "And it's not just bestsellers that are targeted by thieves."

"He didn't make any such assumption. You can't put words into people's mouths then complain that they're wrong!"

Well I could actually, but it turns out it wasn't necessary, since I actually read and understood the article. Your mileage clearly varies. (The article is wought with statements based on this assumption, by the way. I just picked one from the actual author, lest you come back and say "that was merely a quote which he made no effort to debunk!")

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (1)

elhondo (545224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622666)

I don't know if you've ever read a Dan Brown novel, but I can certainly state from first hand experience that after doing so, I'm now far less likely to buy any of his other works.

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622692)

Actually I have read one of Dan Browns books, but I pirated it from the library ;-)

Re:If the formula is flawed the result means nothi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622690)

This person makes the very false assumption that, when someone tells you and another friend that they read this great book for free but didn't care enough to actually buy it because they expect you to, that you will actually buy it rather than also downloading it because you don't consider yourself inferior to that person. Even though both of you may have otherwise bought the book had you not heard about your friend getting it for free.

No, 100,000 downloads doesn't necessarily equal 100,000 lost sales. It's more likely to mean 300,000 people who expect the rest of the world to support their interests financially because they can't be assed, and they have a superiority complex. That's 300,000 people who have no moral issue with getting something for nothing while everyone else has to pay. And worst of all, it's 300,000 people who are unfortunately allowed to vote.

Text Books (1)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622390)

I kind of find it funny that they're complaining about text books being pirated. After all they've been charging far too much for them for a very long time, and it's ridiculous since the people they're trying to screw over are students. If your parents aren't rich and paying for everything for you at school, you have to work to pay rent, food, bills and for classes/tuition, and a lot of those students can't get loans if their parents aren't on the up and up, so it's practically criminal that the text books would cost that much for how cheap they are to print.

Novelists as Experts (1)

CheeseburgerBrown (553703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622398)

Novelists can't be trusted. It's always a story with those guys. Like Al Gore and his triffids, or Michael Crichton's genetic engineering alarmism -- nothing to see here. Pure fabrication. I'm pretty sure if we want to know the truth about piracy we have to dig really deep into the back part of the Bible...somewhere between Muhammed and the passages about Neo.

What an ignorant douche. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622400)

I have never even heard of this guy except when he talks about how evil ereaders are.

Re:What an ignorant douche. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622550)

Well, if his object is to get noticed, his plan is working.

Grabbing publicity? (4, Interesting)

FrozenGeek (1219968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622410)

What are the odds that Sherman Alexie is simply making a controversial statement to gain publicity?

Prior to this article, I'd never heard of him. Given his statement, I doubt I'll every buy any of his work but his statement has gotten his name air-time.

ownership (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622412)

ownership is a selfish term that will only hold humanity back

the idea of artistic ownership (1)

Bobtree (105901) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622414)

Perhaps Sherman Alexie would like to pay a license fee for their continued use of the idea of artistic ownership.

Clearly a link (1)

stokessd (89903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622422)

Yes, my desire to steal the occasional shitty movie after all the crap the MPAA has pulled, is driven entirely by the fact that I like to share my code with others to use as well.

Sheldon

The idea "goes away"? (1)

popo (107611) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622430)

"Goes away"? Goes away from what? When was the idea of non-physical, mass-market licensing of intellectual property well established? When has there ever been consensus on this subject?

I have a personal anecdote to share on the matter (4, Interesting)

arikol (728226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622458)

Not long ago I wanted to buy an ebook (just published. I went to Amazon and they wanted the hardcover price for the ebook. $25 for an ebook, just plain silly. So I went to barnes&noble, they offered the ebook for $10, similar to a paperback. So I tried to buy it.

Aaaanndd.. an error came up saying that I could not buy this book from the area I was in (not USA). I looked around some more and did not find a european distributor for the ebook. Lot's of companies had the hardcover, but no ebook. I checked if I could order it from amazon (I had no intention of completing that !!$25!! transaction) and same thing. I was not allowed to buy the bloody book.

So I went to my friends at thepiratebay and got the book. I needed to do some conversion to get the text to display properly on my device, but it worked. The legal alternatives, which I tried to follow, simply did not work. Maybe there was a way to get the legal options to work properly, but the way to get customers to do the legal thing is to make that EASIER than the illegal way.
On iTunes I am guaranteed to get good quality files, on TPB I am not. Simple.

Here in sweden the streaming service Spotify has changed the game. It's just so easy to do the legal thing that illegal downloading went down. Do the same with movies, books, programs.. basically everything else. Make the legal way the best and easiest way, and people will come.

As for Cory Doctorow, I do wish that he gave me some way of giving him money for the digital copies I've gotten from him. I don't want to buy a paper version, and I don't want to donate a paper version. I just want to pay the author (and editor and all those involved) for his/their work.

Re:I have a personal anecdote to share on the matt (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622628)

Reminds me of buying PC games several years ago. I'd buy the thing, it would install install install then crap out and tell me that it wouldn't install because I had a *gasp* CD burner. I'd have to download the no cd patch every damn time. INcreasingly, the games would die during the install itself. So I started downloading the pirated versions of the games that I had bought. I eventually stopped buying games, just downloaded them. I switched over 100% to Linux later on.

I recently bought a new laptop that came with Windows 7 Home Premium. There are a couple of games that looked like fun, so I figured that I would dual boot. Had to download an ISO for exactly the same version that I legally have a license to as computers do not actually come with discs anymore. Now Windows is telling me that my activation key is not valid. I've re-entered it several times but still a no go. The laptop is from Lenovo and I got it from Newegg, neither of which are shipping fake keys I'd bet.

I'm wiping out Windows as soon as I'm done playing the games I paid for on the OS I paid for.

I am sick of the bullshit I have to deal with in the proprietary world of software.

Re:I have a personal anecdote to share on the matt (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622728)

Exactly. Companies need to stop trying to build up borders within the internet. The internet itself is one territory, it should be treated that way and people should be able to buy things from any website.

the true test of Media (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622460)

this currently works best with movies and songs but they need to look at how popular the torrents for a piece of media is and go from there.

Day of release (or sooner) lots of fully working torrents: Great
Day of release a few fully working torrents : very good
week of release torrents that work : good (but not by much)
month of release torrents can be found: not good (real sales will be down badly)
if you work at it you may find a couple torrents: Bad (this is box office disaster territory)
no torrents : Bad very Bad (you may break even on the ROM/iTunes market)

WTH is Sherman Alexie? (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622514)

and why do we care about his opinion? It's trivial to find an "expert" who will give you any opinion you want.

Re:WTH is Sherman Alexie? (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622618)

"Expert" changed its meaning. It used to mean "someone who knows something about a subject". Today it's "random loudmouth that shares your opinion on it".

Re:WTH is Sherman Alexie? (1)

Uzik2 (679490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622732)

LOL! Thanks for clearing that up! :)

The defination of piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622520)

Piracy: the measure of people who are interested enough to try your product but not interested enough to buy your product.

Amazon should correct for income bias (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622528)

" Amazon reports that Kindle owners buy, on average, 3.1 times as many books on the site as other customers."

Whenever I hear something like this, I always feel like there is either a will to mislead or a statistical idiot on the other end. This would be much more impressive a statistic if it were statistically controlled for income.

I think it is a reasonable presumption that Kindle owners are wealthier (or have more wealthier relatives) than the average person. If they have the money to put $ 259 on a Kindle, they probably have the money to buy more paper books as well.

Artistic Ownership? (1)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622536)

I'd have said that was one of the main things you kept with Open Source. The Open Source software I've originated has had fairly modest user bases but I've remained the lead developer. The main way I think I'd lose artistic ownership is if somebody took over and developed / maintained the software better than me - in which case they'd deserve it.

Quite upsetting to see open source associated with piracy, etc but I can see how for somebody a) not necessarily as tech-literate as us and b) working closely with people in an intellectual property industry which is suddenly seeing an influx of strange new concepts, it might seem like they're part and parcel of the internet (and in some sense they are, they're just rather different things anyhow!).

Closed source scares me more (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622538)

The idea that a corporation ( and it is corporations who are behind this - the artists receive 10% of the purchase price if they are very lucky) can hold the public to ransom over an artefact which has become so widely known and appreciated that it has been transformed into a part of the common culture, is despicable.

There is a vast difference between a struggling author having his work pirated and consequently being prevented from earning a living, and a work known by everyone, for which the author has already earned a substantial income, being withheld from those who cannot afford to pay the tax.

The images of the twin towers in flames, the famous publicity shot of Marilyn Monroe standing over the grating, the films I saw in my youth and the books which were held out to me as classics, and which I was forced to read (albeit gladly) are mine just as much as they belong to the corporations which 'own' the various copyrights.

There is a point at which a creation becomes so widely read or watched, that it ceases to be the possession of just one organisation and an eternal source of revenue for them.

The politicians who connive with big business to impose these 'taxes' are the real culprits in all this. They are crooks and fraudsters who legislate to legitimise their thievery. Vote them out. Organise and stand for office yourselves. You can do better.

Against artistic ownership (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622542)

Artistic "ownership" is an abuse of the term. You can own physical property, such as a painting or book, but you can't "own" an idea or concept, and then morally prevent others from using their own property as they see fit. Intellectual property is a government sanctioned abuse of property rights. Such an innovation must be opposed on principled grounds.

100,000 times? (4, Insightful)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622580)

TFA states:

"Less than 24 hours after its release, pirated digital copies of the novel were found on file-sharing sites such as Rapidshare and BitTorrent. Within days, it had been downloaded for free more than 100,000 times"

Where do they get these numbers from? Do Rapidshare release download stats? Is there some secret BitTorrent download counter/tracker these people have access to? This has got to be a figure someone has just pulled out of their ass.

I Will Not Buy Bound Books... (1)

rshol (746340) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622586)

...because I prefer the convenience of electronic purchasing (vs. going to the store or ordering on line and waiting for delivery) and reading (my books are on my iPhone and always with me). I have never pirated a book either electronically or with a copy machine. If authors wish to sell to me they had better have their books in electronic format. I suspect I am not alone.

Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622604)

And proprietary (e.g. MS Windows) prevents piracy. I think I understand what this guy's saying.

Cinnamon pick-apart author (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622626)

Let us tear him a new one, it is easy.

Digital piracy, long confined to music and movies, is spreading to books.

Actually, there have long been digital books, and they have long been pirated. It doesn't stop people [oreilly.com] from making a profit selling them. Also, paper books have long been digitized, then pirated digitally. They seem to still sell. This article: (-1, Sensationalist) And, I might add, it straddles the line between ignorance and fraud. It left poetic license behind several states ago.

"With the open-source culture on the Internet, the idea of ownership -- of artistic ownership -- goes away," Alexie added. "It terrifies me."

This is based on a retarded notion of what open source means. I'm not talking about the OSI definition or anything; but in any case, it remains true that both Open Source and Free Software are powered by copyright! And even the BSD license, which retains copyright notices, explicitly retains the idea of artistic ownership. In fact, that's all it does. Wikipedia asserts that Alexie considers e-Books "elitist" [wikipedia.org] , but that obviously makes him some kind of asshole. Here's precisely why: computers are free. You can get a shitpile computer which can certainly handle reading an eBook for literally zero dollars. Freecycle, craigslist, places like this here Slashdot... People are giving away working computers every day. And people who can't even afford the obscene $4+ price for a used paperback, let alone the egregious $8 and up for a new one (god forbid the $20+ for a hardcover) can consume eBooks for free, both legally from sources like Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] and illegally from... well, you know. All the usual spots.

Thus, Sherman Alexie is one of the following: Either a fucking idiot flapping his yap when he has no understanding whatsoever about the technology, i.e. a petrified luddite, or a hypocrite assaulting new media because he is afraid that if everyone (including the "disadvantaged") has free access to media, he won't be making any money any more. The simple truth is that there are thousands upon thousands of books available for free in one way or another. This quote (which I picked up from Wikipedia) should set most of you at odds with him immediately: ...many of my detractors fail to see one of the negative meanings: the audience decides which source material is or is not "open." He thinks eBooks are elitist because they bring power to the masses? Very clever.

The real question ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622648)

in all of this is "Do writers get the same royalties when a e-book is sold as they do when a paper book is sold ?". If so then the fact that three times as many books were sold is good news for them. If not then it just points out that it's the publishers who are ripping them off. Of course it's bad news for the paper and printing industries but wonderful news for those who dislike the role of publishers as gate keepers and those who wish a copy of books that have gone out of print.

Those bloddy Piraterians (1)

antikristian (856519) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622652)

I can understand that writers are worried about this new threat.

Now millions of people can easily get books for free without paying anything for them.
It's like a gigantic library of free books!! Nobody will buy books if they can get them from a library, right?

The conspiracy theory about open source on the other hand, is just to stupid to comment on.

He should give the novel away, charge for support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622656)

Enough Said.

Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30622664)

This guy seems to be in the business of making money, instead of the business of writing. Writing is just a tool, money is the end. Hence, his opinion, however undocumented it may be.

The idea went away? That idea never stuck (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30622678)

Let's be honest here, how many people do you know that really had "that idea" of IP ownership? How many talk about "licensing" Windows and how many "buy" it? How many "license" a book and how many "buy" it?

And that set in with the open source movement? My dad, who can't tell a toaster from a netbook and would think of a medical condition hearing about "open sores", is the proud "owner" of a very extensive dead tree library. And it's his firm belief that he "owns" those books, the idea that these books don't belong to him never crossed his mind.

So let's be sensible here. The idea of intellectual property never made it into public conscience. And until recently that was very much in the interest of the same people that now bemoan it.

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