(Before we start I want to define "downloading a book for free." I'm talking about modern copyrighted material. There ARE books out there in the public domain that you can get for free. I'm not sure if I'm all that happy about that, but that is NOT the type of thing I'm talking about. I am talking about illegal downloads of copyrighted material. Also--this isn't a discussion about ebooks. I love ebooks. I am a complete geek and love the idea of technology that allows me to read on my little ereader. Yes. I own one. And yes. I buy ebooks the same as I buy paper books. And for the record, no, I do not think all ebooks should cost a dollar. Regardless of format, authors work damn hard.)
This morning, thanks to some [sarcasm] really smart person [/sarcasm] on Twitter who tweeted a link to a free copy of my book, I found a site that had 8 illegal copies of my book which boasted about 800 downloads. If I do the math right, that's dinner for my kids for about 8-12 months. I'd estimate that over the last 18 months since some pirate made that horrible homemade copy of my book (by the way, dork, you skipped some pages and can't scan worth a crap) there have been at least three times that number of illegal downloads of my book. My first thoughts: Thanks a million, cowardly thieving people. Seriously. Grow a pair. I dare you to steal it from a shelf in a store. Lily-livered poltroons.
Then, the idea of that dare grew on me. I knew kids (and adults) who shoplifted in my life. I could never do it. I just didn't have the guts. Plus, I never forgot that day when I was five and I stole a few pieces of that pick-your-own candy from the grocery store and my father saw me with it when we were loading the car and he took me back in and made me give it back to the manager and apologize. I was so ashamed. I cried the whole time.
See, as a five-year-old, my line of thinking was selfish and immature. And simple. It went like this: I WANT THAT CANDY. So I took it. That's how IMMATURE FIVE-YEAR-OLDS THINK.
As a forty-year-old (and as a twenty-year-old and the thirty-year-old, for that matter) I'm a little more mature. If I see something I want, say--an iPad, I think: I WANT THAT IPAD and then I look in my bank account and realize people like me can't afford iPads. And I'm okay with that. What I'm not okay with is the reason I can't afford that iPad (Or, more accurately, my daughters' college tuition, or maybe even dinner or rent in another month or two) is because a bunch of entitled spoiled little cowards have stolen my book rather than bought it. I guarantee you that the people who steal from me would be really pissed off if someone did the same thing to them. And they would also be Appalled! Outraged! Insulted! if someone degraded and shrugged off the hard work they do in a day. And they're probably complaining right now about how awful this economy is. Ah, irony.
Anyway. When I clicked the abuse button at the site where I found the file and reported these 8 illegal copies, this is the form letter I got back from the "file sharing" site. (Formerly known as a "safe house.")
In the interest of full disclosure, my reply to this was:Hello, Sorry for inconveniences you have encountered! We have deactivated the links to the illegal files mentioned in your e-mails. Please note that we do not upload anything to our site. All file uploading is performed by [deleted] registered users.
I thank you for your cooperation! I hope you removed all 8 files. I've linked them all below in case you need to double check.So here's my dare.
I appreciate that you don't upload that material yourself.
However, your site exists so thieves can share the things they steal and then proudly tweet about it.
In law, people who safely house criminals are also prosecuted. Shame you can't see yourself in the same light and police OBVIOUSLY copyrighted material to prove that your heart is in the right place. As of today, sites like yours have encouraged that my daughter's first semester at college be stolen from her.
I don't call that an inconvenience. I call it illegal.
Pirate-lover to pirate-lover:
Anyone reading this who has ever downloaded a book for free, and is now making all those lame excuses I always hear:
- "I can't get a copy in my local bookstore!" (Order it. Get it from a library. Buy the ebook version.)
- "I'm too poor!" (Try being that poor and raising two kids--welcome to my life. Deal with it and don't want shit you can't afford. Duh.)
- Or my favorite, "I'm just like a library!" (Uh--no you're not. You're a five-year-old . Last time I checked, most librarians required an MLS and a modicum of integrity.)
This dare has no deadline or cutoff date. I will happily accept entries until the end of time.
A Special Note to Parents: If your children are planning on taking me up on this dare, don't blame me for their stupidity. You should have taken them to the manager of the grocery store like my father did to me. And if you're too late for that, and this is your first realization that those free books and movies and songs they download are no different than them stuffing DVD cases down their pants in the local Target, then why not use this as an opportunity to teach them? There may be no physical manager to make them apologize to, but you can always erase the illegal files off their drives (in my house, I'd take the computer, wipe it clean and donate it) and make them apologize to every author they stole from. We all have accessible email addresses. Hell, if you want, just have them send the apologies to me and I'll make sure they get to the authors who need to see them.
And parents: if you're shrugging thinking, "it's no big deal." then look at this. And look at this. Or this. And if you're really that happy to be that dumb about this stuff, then here's a basic education about how if your under-18 kid has illegal files on his/her computer, it could be YOUR ASS and YOUR WALLET that pays.
Have some freaking respect people. For my kids. For my hard work. And for yourself.
*climbs off soapbox* *bows to appreciative audience*
If you are actually considering this dare, PLEASE See FOLLOW-UP Post HERE.
Adding MONTHS later: If you want to see the positive impact posts like this can make, go here.
*thanks Lesley Livingston for making me look, even though I didn't want to look.*
(We really shouldn't have to spend every Saturday morning doing this, Lesley. You're dead right about that)
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