Every now and then someone tells me how much they loved my book or that how it moved them. It is very inspiring. Quite innocently, sometimes they go on to say how a friend of theirs forwarded them the PDF and they read it in one go. At that time, I want to tell them that it’s not nice, though, I choose to stay quiet and share their enthusiasm.
Piracy is not just a cool name given to illegal downloads, it is theft. All forms of creative people, musicians, artists, writers, bloggers, and photographers work very hard to produce what they do and most of them do it to put food on the table. When we download something illegally, we are stealing. It’s neither a truthful act nor humane or moral. Would you walk into an art gallery and just walk out with a painting (or have your friend do it) without paying for it? Can you walk into a restaurant have a meal and just disappear without paying the bill?
When you download a book and don’t pay for it (unless of course, it’s a legitimate download made available by the creator or publisher), you are hurting the livelihood of many people, including but not limited to, the publisher, copywriter, artist (book cover creator), author, editor, typesetter, printer, distributor, retailer, marketer and a whole heap of other people in the value chain.
But, you just downloaded a simple book worth not even two cups of coffee, could it really cause that much harm? Till date, my publishers have issued more than fifteen DMCA takedown notices to various websites in the past 18 months. Here are the figures:
Total number of downloads: 30,000+
Direct Loss: Rs. 7,500,000 ($100,000) in sales or circa Rs. 600,000 in royalties.
And this is just from a small-time author like me in the last one and a half year alone. You can safely multiply this figure by three to ascertain the loss incurred since 2014. Imagine the global scale of theft for all the other creators combined.
Next time you download any music, software, artwork or a book, think again. If you haven’t paid for it, you are stealing. You can do better. I know my words will reach home because long before I took to writing as my source of livelihood, I always purchased my books, music, and software. So, I’m not writing this now because it’s hurting me personally, but because, like many other things, I’m sharing with you my core values of life.
Just because a lot of stuff is available freely online does not mean it is free. Just because something is free doesn’t mean it has no copyright.
And, just because you can bypass the copyright doesn’t mean you own it.
Do the right thing.