It was pointed out to me that Chuck Wendig wrote a blog post declaring today "Please Don't Pirate My Book Day". If you haven't read the post, I recommend doing so. Go on. I'll wait.
It's a good read, isn't it? It's timely, too. Why, just two weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend during which we vehemently discussed epiracy. Primarily, we discussed piracy of music, but the problem applies to ebooks just like it applies to mp3s or images, for that matter. (Do I need to point out that, us being us, there was a great deal of vitriol and some truly inspired obscenities lobbed about? ... I thought not.) Two things about piracy gall me most. (We might find out as we go that there are more than two things, but let's start with two.)
First, when a pirate downloads one of my books from a pirate site (or whatever method they choose to copy and share that file) instead of purchasing it from an authorized retailer, I DON'T GET PAID. (#18 in Mr. Wendig's post) Do you like to be paid for the long hours you work and the job that you do? Do you like to be valued and appreciated for what you bring to your job? Yeah, me too. Well, when you (I mean the generic "you", of course) steal my book (and let's not kid ourselves here, duplication in this fashion is, essentially, theft of copyrighted material) you're basically telling me that my time, my energy, my hard work, and my creativity aren't worth the price of a good latte. You'll pardon me if I don't take that as a compliment.
Second, it's the attitude of entitlement (#24) of so many people that makes me want to send hard drive-melting viruses through the intarwebs to burn pirates' computers into so much worthless slag and, just to make a point, set their hair on fire. Certainly this attitude of entitlement is not held by every person who has ever illegally copied an ebook or stolen a music file or, hell, mixed a CD for a friend. I love to generalize, but even I can see that saying every epirate is a spoiled, selfish, self-important fuckwanker (Thank you, C, for that delightful epithet!) would be grossly inaccurate, not to mention a little over-dramatic. But if you have five bucks to spend on coffee and a scone even once a week, then you have enough money to buy an ebook.
It's this second point that my friend and I were most passionate about in our dinner conversation. Here's the thing: The world doesn't owe you, me, or anyone else anything, and that includes ebooks. Now, if you're reading this, I like to believe I am preaching to the choir. But maybe you have a friend who isn't quite so concerned about little things like respect for creative professionals and their intellectual property. Maybe you know someone who is misguided enough to think that all authors are rich beyond the dreams of avarice. In that case, maybe next time they tell you about all these free books they just downloaded, you'll call them out, ask them if they paid for them, inform them that authors are people who need to eat and pay rent. And if you think that I don't practice what I preach, let me tell you: I have been known to call a friend a thief to her face when I learned she was pirating ebooks. So I'm not asking you to do anything I haven't done.
So there you go. Not as thoughtful and eloquent as I might like, but it's hard not to get passionate and angry about the subject, which is not good for civil discourse.
In conclusion, if you like someone's creative work, while adoring emails are always welcome, but the best way to say "thank you" is to pay them for it.