Saturday, April 25, 2015

I Pirated a Book

Sponsored by 50 Shades of Great(ness)

I Pirated a Book

Lyrics by Cindy A. Matthews (Sung to the tune of I Started a Joke by the Bee Gees)

I pirated a book
Which started the author crying
But I didn't see
That the joke was on me, oh no
Downloaded the book
Which started the hackers laughing
Oh, if I'd only seen
That the pirates had me
I looked at my files
Running my hands over my eyes
I fell out of my chair
Hitting the screen from things that I'd seen
‘Til my machine was fried
Which started the hackers laughing
Oh, if I'd only seen
That the pirates had me
I looked at my files
Running my hands over my eyes
And I started to cry
Hitting the screen from things that I'd seen
My device’s totally fried
Which started the authors writing
Oh, if I'd only seen, oh yeah
That the pirates had me, oh no
That the pirates had me, oh…

(Copyright 2015 by Cindy A. Matthews. Please do not re-post without my permission. With apologies to the incomparable Robin Gibb. Can’t you just hear him singing this in his emotion-filled falsetto?)

Why this filk of a classic Bee Gees’ song? The idea came to me one evening after a fellow author shared a link to a book pirate site where thousands of books (ebooks and print)  were being pirated. Guess what? Every single title that I had ever published (fiction, non-fiction, and children’s) was being pirated there. From my dwindling sales, I never realized how popular I was!

If you don’t know what “pirating books” (or ebooks, films, songs, etc.) means, it means that someone or some group of persons has stolen the electronic files of my books and were posting them without my permission or my publishers’ permission. Stolen books given away for free don’t make the author any royalties. This means the writer/publisher isn’t getting paid for the stolen copies. This is lost revenue that the government never gets to tax.

And before you make the argument that libraries “give away free ebooks all the time,” remember that libraries pay for their ebook copies. The library has purchased the rights to have the ebook on their electronic shelves for check out for certain number of downloads, and then they have to repurchase the ebook—like a worn out print book would need to be replaced. You can see that pirate web sites and libraries aren’t the same thing.

 To put it bluntly, pirate web sites aren’t legal and pirating books is outright theft. You wouldn’t walk into a Wal-Mart, Penney’s or a Target store and start jamming things into your coat pockets and walk out without paying for these items, would you? That sort of activity is called shoplifting, and when they catch you doing it they arrest you. The same goes with ebooks…They should be bought and paid for via legal channels, not stolen or pirated and given away without the expressed permission of the authors/publishers. (If you don’t get caught with the pirated materials, they can’t prosecute you, right? Read on and find out how you'll be punished. It’s worse.)

So, what does ebook piracy mean to me as an author? It means that people feel they can steal from me and other authors with impunity. Pirated books aren't counted as sales by my publishers, so I don't get paid for these lost copies. Authors are being robbed every minute of every day, and it's almost impossible to stop. Once you tell the pirate site to stop listing your books illegally and to remove them immediately, two more will pop up in its place and do the same. It's never ending. The only way it will stop is if readers will voluntarily stop pirating books and sharing pirated books.

Now you know why I don't write more books—I can’t afford to do so. I have to work several jobs to keep the heat on in the winter and food in the pantry. I hope you realize how hard things like this hit home to a struggling author. My books are obviously good enough to steal, but you don't want to support me in my career, huh? How would you feel if you were a carpenter or a hair stylist or painter and people came to you and wanted free products and services? You'd be upset. You wouldn't be able to support your family if people expected free things from you constantly and refused to pay you for your time. It’s no joke when people rob you, is it? 

Same here. 

Think before you pirate. Support your favorite authors—and your starving friends who are authors. Buy our books! I promise it will be worth your while. How so?

Recall what I mentioned earlier about shoplifting and punishment… When you think about it, you pay on average a couple of dollars (usually less than ten bucks) for an ebook file purchased from a legitimate web site, right? If you think that’s too expensive, think about all the wonderful viruses/trojans/and phishing scams that will be downloaded directly to your computer or computing device whenever you download an ebook from a pirate web site. 

Yes, you can receive a lot more than just a “free” stolen ebook installed onto your device! For example, the pirate site where I found my books listed recently was riddled with malicious viruses according to several knowledgeable sources. It was riddled with things that can hack into your computer and steal personal information such as your credit card numbers, address, social security numbers… Identity theft, anyone?

Pirated ebook files are far from clean or safe, and your computing device will pay the ultimately penalty when it seizes up and fries as my song says. It’s only a matter of time. “There’s no honor among thieves,” as the old saying goes. Every pirated download is like engaging in unprotected sex with a stranger, and the next virus could prove deadly. How much money will it cost you to fix your virus-riddled computing device? Hundreds of dollars or more, and in the end, you might simply have to throw it out and replace it. Talk about expensive!

And all because you wanted to steal a two dollar book instead of purchasing it through a legitimate site… The joke is on you, and the malware hackers are laughing their butts off all the way back to China, Russia, North Korea or wherever their thieves’ den may be located. You fell for their bait!

Feeling smart now?

Remember: Friends don’t let friends download or share pirated books. Not if they want to remain friends, that is. Don’t let your song become a sad one—resist ebook piracy.

You can legally pirate this book. I'm giving it away FREE.   


A J said...

eBook piracy is a serious issue, yet it seems to go unremarked by the majority of the book-buying public. Would a normal everyday reader go into a bookstore, help herself/himself to an armful of books and walk out without paying? Of course not, because it's wrong and highly illegal - and so is the theft of eBooks. For every one that's pirated, you discourage the writer that little bit more until they stop writing for publication altogether. We're not all multimillionaires, in spite of what Hollywood would have us believe.

And yes, there are serious risks of downloading a virus or Trojan program that will cost the pirate book downloader far more than the cost of the book they stole. Practice safe computing - purchase your eBook from a reputable publisher!

Cynthianna said...

Words to the wise, AJ. I think we've got a generation of readers out there who have absolutely no clue about how hard it is to make a living as an author nowadays. I suppose if we started "borrowing" things from their businesses and expecting them to work their professions for us unpaid, they'd come to understand the problem better.

And you're so right about the viruses on the pirate sites. What sort of idiot opens him/herself up to that risk? A dishonest idiot or so it seems. Honesty truly is the best policy.

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