This blog is a response to Randombullseye's blog on piracy. It's very much a train of thought diatribe so please excuse the errors. It's too long for a comment i think so i made my own blog. Random did a great job of inciting conversation on this topic, i disagree with some of his points and it's great to debate. I'm glad he wrote the article and you should all read it. Actually read it instead of this. Don't read this, it's terrible :P
Disclosure: I do pirate shit.
Disclosure two:I may tart up the blog with pictures. If i don't i'm sorry. Animated Gifs ho!!
Disclosure three: No disrespect to Randomsbullseye. He's a standout fella and i'm not saying anything he doesn't already know.
"Piracy is stealing as we define it today"
No, it's copyright infringement. No one has changed the definition of piracy.
"I want people to read my work and make money, but if the choice was to have them read it and not make money, I'd be happy with just that. "
Then you are giving people the right to distribute your work and it's essentially Creative Commons. You still get credit but you've lost your right to claim money off those people that distribute it. It's called divestiture.
"If nobody had ever said it was wrong, would anybody have ever felt the least bit guilty about file sharing at all? "
The guilt is there, and the moral is taught because it does hurt people. It hurts those who's livelihoods depend on receiving royalties from the work they created. It's easy to say that you wouldn't care that The Bonerquest* gets out there because at the end of the day your job isn't to write Bonerquest novels/novellas (let's say it isn't). Sure these days it's not so much individuals as it companies, who obviously want to protect their money makers too (and shake them).
*(on that note, since it's an original idea from Aaron Linde wouldn't you at least need his permission if you were to make money from it? I guess not since he hasn't claimed copywright and has probably at some point waived his ownership of it).
Metallica wasn't exactly fond of people getting their music for free. "How dare our fans share our music! Those assholes!" Lars and the boys of Metallica were not exactly thrilled that people could do this, and made a big stink about it, ultimately making piracy a thing everyone knows about. You boners!
See my point above about protecting their means of income. You have to protect your IP or else you're setting a precedent to allow everyone to use it as they will. It's the same thing with how video game companies stop fan projects. If they don't then it becomes difficult to argue why a 'real threat' such as a SEGA funded Mario game is any different to a fan based project. They lose control of their brand and that's the most valuable thing to a company.
There is no value in every body knowing what you made if you can no longer make money from it.
"If only I could send someone something and let them experience the video games I had, without risking them breaking my shit. If only we had that. Wouldn't that be a good thing? A great thing even? "
Your example is flawed. While the discs that house the video game are the physical media that we receive it's not what we're paying for. You know that licence agreement you sometimes see with software and in game manuals? That's an indication that you're paying for the right to play that game, you do not OWN the content on the disc, you own the right to access it. Go to any university to see this in action. There may be loads of computers in a lab but perhaps only 2 of them have a particular program. If we have the program, why doesn't every computer have it? Because we only have a licence to access that program on two machines. This is taken even further with a lot of advanced scientific software requiring a usb dongle to "unlock" it. This concept is so often forgotten by gamers, especially those that demand that they own content on the disc. You don't own shit, or else all those people that made money making mario clones could claim that they own the code because they bought a copy of super mario once.
What i'm saying is, that lending your games to others is different to letting them have their own copy. When you lend a game you're also lending them your licence to play. You cannot play that game at your house at the same time so there is still a desire and chance that another purchase will be made and the company makes its money. If you give them a copy, then you have removed that limitation and there is no desire for that person to purchase the game except for the guilt you described or the fear of getting caught for copyright infringement. They are vastly different things in the law and vastly different in terms of whether a company considers it a threat or not.
"Nobody gives a fuck about it. You guys do, some of you, but would you buy a dumb book from me? Would you listen to an audiobook version that you've paid money for to have on a CD? Wouldn't you want to hold it in your hands and actually look at it, and turn the physical real pages, not some shitty iOS ap that pretends to be a book, but an actual god damn book"
Companies don't see their product like that. They see it as something everybody wants and everyone will pay to get. Hell, you have to think like that or else who the hell is going to be duped into giving up money?
Steam digital sales, ebooks and itunes have proven to us that we don't all want physical copies. Sure that's your selling point, that's your case for desirability in this case but i'm not sure that's a very good selling point. I DO like crappy ios apps, i love mp3's over cds, i don't want physical media (i moved across the world, stuff is a fucking pain in the ass). You should be selling the content not the product (just like selling the licence, not the game cart).
"And I know how the internet works, the second this thing is out, and if a guy cares enough, it will be online for free, if you really want it for free. It happens. Doesn't matter what it is, if it exists, it will be put out for free somewhere if you search for the right words on the right websites. This is twenty twelve, piracy exists, deal with it. "
Yep, you're spot on. The success stories where people have made money despite this are the cases where they are fully aware of this fact. They are humanizing the creators of the product and I think they are relying on that guilt that a lot of people have when they pirate. They either say part of the money is going to charity (i.e humblebundle) and amplify the guilt of piracy or they show that they are a regular guy and that when you pirate you are taking income from a person not a faceless company (see any comedian)... OR you show the world that you make a great product that doesn't cost much and rely on their sense of charity (obviously this is the best way).
"If I throw thousands of dollars into having a guy make fun of my book, and then sell two copies, to myself, what kind of business is that?"
Yep and that's the risk / reward aspect of business.
"In the interest of everyone having a copy of the book, and knowing the material, I feel like I have to give it away for free. However, in the interest of quitting my job so I can write more, I feel like waiting a year from the physical release of the book and actually releasing it myself in as many formats as possible, in as high a quality as possible. "
Yep and that's the struggle of the artist and the businessman. It blows but i don't think you can have the best of both worlds. Unless you think you have a best seller on your hands (and you should do) you are either going to have to give it away for free (create value by taking away the monetary risk to the consumer) or you are going to have to create something that you believe is good enough that the strength of the content will get it recognition and spread. It's very risky, especially given you might quit your job over it, and it's possibly the reason why we see so many Actors that are just waiting tables until they find the right role.
OH snap, you just said pretty much that anyway. Sorry bout that.
"But I'm none of those things. Not really. I'm just guy who wrote a book, I want to not work a soul eroding job and make people laugh. Is that such a big deal?"
Yup, that's life. But you can't have it both ways. Companies aren't people, they do not care about you. This allows them to make money. There are good companies that don't dick you over, but you can never see that as them being nice to you. It's not, it's just their way to get money out of you.
"People act upset about having copies or clones of their work put out. Why? The archetypes of literature only go so far."
And by that logic there is only so many musical note combinations in the world. Original ideas are tricky thing to hold onto and claim, but hell you have to try or else you'll never make money.
"If we can't grow the fuck up and laugh at everything, how can we ever really share anything with each other? "
I like your idea of a world where nobody has ownership over information. I'd like to visit your planet one day.
"Can you copyright a concept? "
No. You can only copyright the expression of the concept. It can be copied by anyone but not in the same way you've done it. This sounds hazy no? It sure is. Which is why copyright law is so bloody complicated.
"To tape that Generation X TV movie Fox did, then pass that around to your friends to make their own copies of it, isn't that piracy?"
Yep, it sure is. But the reason why you didn't hear of little Timmy getting sued is because you have to choose your battles. Would it be worth the shit storm of publicity for suing a little boy just for the money you'd make from a few cassettes? It's all about scale but no bones about it, that IS piracy.
"So what do we do? How can we stop the greatest thing that ever happened to humanity? "
You humanize yourself and you try to go for human traits like charity and hell, even guilt. You said it yourself you can't fight pirates, they can't be stopped. But you can make money from those that are borderline or those people that have a conscience or attachment to your product because a) you're a really awesome dude (see Valve) or b) they became super attached to your product (Lewis CK)
So yeah, i think you're not struggling with the idea of piracy. You're really struggling with the conflict of wanting your work to be in as many peoples mind sets as possible (i.e. take away the risk of reading it) and also paying your rent. It sucks and luckily it looks like it's something i'll never have to deal with because unlike you i'm not a good enough writer to even think about writing a book. I will certainly be buying a copy when it is released to support you, and you could say a lot of that is because you're part of dtoid and you're the man dawg (you're a person and not a faceless company). And also because it has cock monsters in it and that pleases me greatly.
"Fuck everybody that said you can't just write a book and publish it, I can do that. I can do anything. You can too."