The war is on. This is somewhat ironic, since treebooks are much harder to digitize than movies or music. But "piracy" polarizes; there are authors like Stirling and people like myself, a self-proclaimed infoanarchist. Some "moderates" are in between, of course, but I'm not interested in being moderate, only in being right.
Stirling is not alone in his reactionary opinion. It has surprised me to learn that several other authors, as it seems especially in the sci-field, take a very hard stance against "piracy". Among those are Harlan Ellison (who has filed lawsuits not only against individuals scanning & distributing short stories, but also against AOL & usenet ISPs for making them available) and Mike Resnick. But there are also lots of authors who either have no problem with their books being distributed for free or who actively use the Internet as a secondary or primary publishing channel.
It amazes me that those authors who attempt, as the genre name suggests, to predict the future on a scientific basis fail to realize the inevitable abolishment of copyright. Given the fact that these questions -- see Napster & DeCSS -- are decided now, this is a remarkable display of ignorance on their part. Is it that they are blinded to the truth as soon as they see their own profits in danger, or is a sci-fi author who writes about dyson spheres and jupiter brains really no better than a fantasy author who portrays battles of heros against dragons?
Anyway, as I said above, "piracy" isn't a danger at all to book profits, in fact it can only help to promote books, given the error-proneness and rarity of digital books. This is not going to change until the publishers move full throttle into the "encrypted" ebook age, and they know that. I encourage you to read Eric Flint's analysis of the e-book "piracy problem". Flint is an author who, among others, has released some of his works for free, in the knowledge that it will help him sell more paper books.
What happens in the future? I guess I don't have to mention Stephen King, I guess, whose "The Plant" experiment has been successful so far. This works for smaller authors as well, with voluntary contributions either before or after publishing the actual book. The copyright-lovers argue on the basis that humans are "evil by nature", which is a proposition that I will not accept. I have supported shareware where I had cracks readily available or where they were not necessary. Still, I am probably among the group of people that Mr. Stirling would like to see gang-raped. Now tell me, who displays a lack of morals here?
I am an opponent of prohibitions against non-commercial copying, which I see as nothing more than censorship on an economic basis. I am an advocate of Freenet, a friend of Napster, a member of the Blocks team (another anonymous sharing tool) and the guy behind infoAnarchy. If people like Stirling will try to take away existing rights, or will try to influence the future in a way that I perceive as harmful, I will do my best to fight them, and I encourage every freedom-loving individual to do the same. If you share my view, you shouldn't buy books by the authors I mentioned.
Oh, and BTW, as a journalist I don't mind if people copy my articles, as long as they don't make a significant profit with them. In fact, all my published articles are available in full text on my homepage (German only) -- I encourage anyone to redistribute them --, and my first book will be as well. And C4L, if this is "piracy lovin', rhetoric spouting, peurile and inane pro-piracy crap" then I can't help you. I will restrain myself from judging your comment polemically; although it surely invites it. I think that debates on K5 should be more mature than that.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
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