On the Theft of Ebooks

Note: This post was originally scheduled for late 2014. It didn’t post to MailChimp, so I’m posting it again now. I’ve revised the original post so it’s up to date.Hi Folks,

This is a necessary post. There is a subculture out there who seems to believe anything electronic is up for grabs, that it belongs to everyone at once. It doesn’t.

My unintentional mentor, Dean Wesley Smith, recently (as I write this) posted a blog regarding the fact that ebooks differ from paper books in that courts have established customers do not “own” an ebook once they buy it.

That’s true, of course. When you buy an ebook, you are only licensing it. It’s no different than “buying” a movie. You don’t own the movie. You own the right to view it for awhile. Same with an ebook.

Note: that’s why ebooks generally cost a lot less than paper books. Duh.

Well, his post, incredibly, incited a lot of WRITERS to comment on various and sundry ways to STEAL the copyrighted work in ebooks! Seriously!

Why would ANY writer even condone stealing copyrighted material, much less advise people on how to do so? Are they freaking mental?

So all of that is what has brought me to this:

For the first time in a very long time, I’m glad I found Writing Into the Dark at such an advanced age.

Yes, I do writing into the dark.

Like Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Ray Bradbury and practically EVERY other major successful long-term fiction writer. It just means I don’t outline something to death and then rewrite everything and then run it past a critique group and then polish my own unique voice off of it just because some non-writer in my past told me that’s what I have to do.

Besides, frankly I Don’t Have Time for all that. I’m too busy writing the next story.

But I stand pretty much NO chance of becoming a “long-term” professional author because I got started (in a serious, my-writing-comes-first kind of way) far, far too late.

Will I sell enough to make a living? Probably, but maybe not. The point is, I’m old enough not to be concerned about it. But I digress.

Frankly, if someone cares enough to steal some of my work, well, I just have to hope that will be the exception rather than the rule. I’m not flattered and I don’t think it’s a minor thing. I feel pity for anyone who would deny an author the price of his or her book. That is the height of selfishness and greed.

If you buy my work and want to share it with your spouse or significant other, that’s fine. I personally have no problem with that. But if you steal it outright, or if you buy it once and then share it with several of your friends, you’re taking money out of my pocket.

If the book cost $5 and you shared it with twenty of your closest friends, you’ve just stolen $100 from my bank account.

Don’t shake your head. It’s EXACTLY the same thing.

Now, there is a thing called Digital Rights Management. A lot of new authors (who generally do not understand copyright) tend to use it.

Let me state unequivocally, I will never use DRM. It sends the wrong message to readers. Using DRM says I don’t trust them.

And the fact is, I’ve always been the sort who will trust you until you prove to me I can’t. Then I won’t have anything more to do with you, period.

I will continue to publish both ebooks and print as long as I am able, and I will continue to write my a*s off, as much as I can, every single day that I can, and I will continue to just enjoy the process.

For example, I wrote over 4,000 new words of fiction on Thanksgiving Day (2014). I hope I’ll have that good of production every day, yes, including Christmas. And I will just enjoy the process.

I am a professional writer and I am extremely fortunate, not because of what I’ve sold or hope to sell, but because writing, putting new words on the page in the form of short stories and novels, is what I do. It’s my day job.

Do I wish I’d been involved with my contemporaries, Dean Wesley Smith, Kris and the others from the very beginning? Oh HELL yes. If I had, today I would be a best-selling internationally known author with a hundred or so novels under my belt, as well as countless short stories.

But that isn’t the way it worked out. (shrug) And as for those who feel it’s all right to STEAL the content in ebooks and all the rest of it? There’s so little I can do about it that I find it healthier (for me) not to worry about it.

Listen up— No matter how they justify taking someone else’s copyrighted material without paying for it, thieves are thieves, period. They have no honor, and they are not worthy of my time.

Until next time, happy writing.

Harvey

I am a professional fiction writer. If you’d like to get writing tips several times each week, pop over to my Daily Journal and sign up. In the alternative, you can also click the Pro Writer’s Journal tab on the main website at HarveyStanbrough.com.

5 thoughts on “On the Theft of Ebooks

  1. Well, I keep getting private comments in email from writers. Most of them say “At least they like my stuff enough to steal it (and/or pass it along).” All I can say is
    1. Yeah, but they don’t like it enough to pay a few bucks for it; and
    B. I’d like to have a Jaguar enough to steal it too, but that would still make me a thief, and that’s lower than whalecrap, which of course is on the bottom of the ocean.

  2. Very well said, Harvey. Quite right, there’s not a whole lot we can do about this stuff, and worrying and fretting over it won’t change it. That said, I count on the “what goes around comes around” philosophy. Justice will be served on those who do this sort of thing, and those who endorse it. It’s just a matter of when and how. 🙂

  3. Harvey, it seems your blog has been infected by a virus or hack. Links are inserted. Recognized by bright blue word and a double underline. When you click on them you are sent to a variety of different web sites. It could be my computer that is infected. That might be the case if I am the only one seeing them. Let me know if it others see them on your post.

    Kat

    • There are no links in the post, Kat, and none show in the post on my website. I recommend Norton Power Eraser.

      Harvey

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