>Banned Books Week – Piracy Sites Remedy

>Finally!

I’m a capitalist. I’m an author investing time and effort into my books to make money off my intellectual property. If you’re not familiar with the term Intellectual Property, it’s essentially the end result of someone’s brain power that’s put into some type of media format, print or digital. In my case, it’s a BOOK. So when I found out yesterday that Congress is actually trying to do something about ePiracy I was thrilled.
The basic premise of the 14 page bill (Here’s the link. Can you BELIEVE they were so succinct?) is that the Justice Department will be able to block access to foreign sites that are allowing the free download of Copyrighted – Intellectual Property – files. These same foreign sites are charging fees and earning money off of advertisements on their sites. And these bastards are not returning even a portion of the earnings to MOI! Nor are they paying any Taxes to the US. It’s money going into another country’s till. Essentially, these pirates are making money off of good old-fashion American know how.

Here’s a pretty good explanation (in Layman’s terms) of the bill from a domestic and global perspective from PCMagazine.

The American Resistance

Now, like all things, there are opponents to this BIPARTISAN bill. Some Congressmen who are saying this bill will cause problems. (Here’s an article on their argument) I think their concerns are valid, but inconsequential compared to the loss of monies and intellectual property to foreign interests who are stealing American brainpower and making money off of that. And it’s not just eBooks I’m talking here. This bill protects, music, films, software, practically anything that is in digital form. Let’s face it, society runs on money, and our economy is bad right now, when I think of the money I’ve lost in sales to these SOBs, that’s money I could have been throwing at the economy in the terms of goods and services. Just today the paper said that businesses are waiting on consumers to start buying and consumers are waiting on businesses to start hiring. Catch-22.

Personally, Congress’ plan is a nicer solution to ePiracy than my evil plan to create a nasty virus that obliterates the computer/eReader of someone who downloads one of my pirated works. Although I still do love the idea of that virus throwing up a screen with the Jolly Roger on it with the words “Do Not Fuck With An Author’s Copyright” directly beneath the graphic.

Taking Action

Why is this important to readers who buy their books? Simple economics. Eventually, you WILL reap the price of ePiracy. Business always passes on the cost to consumers. Sometime in the next 5 to 7 years, I predict that eBook sales will be a strong component on the Publisher’s bottom line (I only missed by a year the recent escalation percentage). Currently ePiracy is only really impacting individual authors’ royalty statements, the impact on Publishers’ balance sheets hasn’t really been seen yet, However, when the Publisher’s balance sheet is affected, they will do the same thing that every other business does. They will pass on the cost of loss (ePiracy) to you the consumer.

So if you have thoughts good or bad on this bill why don’t you give your Congressman/Congresswoman a call, a personal email (those generic ones don’t get ANY attention) or snail letter, and tell them how you feel. Let them know that you’re paying attention to what they’re doing. With the election coming up in November, voters are getting more attention at the moment than normal. So your voice will be heard, no matter what your position on this or any other issue. All I ask is that you speak up for or against this measure. If you’d like to review Copyright Alliance’s position on this and how to contact Congress see their post here.

And just for kicks, here’s a replay of…

REAL WORLD IMPACT

Over the past five years, ePirates have stolen the following estimated amounts from me…These figures were calculated based on the number of downloads I found at different pirate sites, multiplied by an average cost of the royalties I would have earned from sales directly from the publisher and from eRetailer sites such as Fictionwise, B&N, Amazon, etc.

Since 2006 — Approximately $15,000 sales for my book Obsession (more than 20k downloads from one site alone)
Since 2007 — Approximately $10,000 sales for my book Mirage
Since 2008 — Approximately $13,000 sales for my book Dangerous

That amount of of money would have almost helped me quit the day job to write faster and more. So I would have accomplished a couple things here. I would have thrown money into the economy, I would have freed up a full-time job for someone else (who would have dones the same), and the foreign countries wouldn’t be making money of my American intellect. Sounds logical doesn’t it?

>Open Letter on eBook Piracy

>Reposted – An open letter to the Executive Director/President of RWA, Presidents of SFWA, and Authors’ Guild concerning copyright infringement.

Dear Allison Kelley, Michelle Monkou, John Scalzi, Scott Turow:

Thank you very much for everything you do to defend authors’ copyrights against copyright infringement. We very much appreciate having an address to which to send our complaints, and the comfort of knowing that you compile a database of the most egregious “pirates” and pirate sites.

Despite small triumphs, ignorance persists among honest readers; lies about the legality of “sharing” go unchallenged, and the problem is getting much worse.

Please Ms. Kelley, Ms. Monkou, Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Turow, will you talk to one another, set up one powerhouse task force, meet regularly, share resources, engage your members, give authors one central “Go To” address where we can submit complaints, report piracy sites, blogs and yahoogroups, cc our individual take-down notices.

One forceful industry voice could shut down an entire account and insist on a hosting site complying with their own terms of service (TOS) where their TOS has been repeatedly violated, instead of requiring individual authors to request the removal of one file at a time.

Thank you.
Rowena Cherry (IWOFA)

Permission granted to forward, share, repost, or use as a template for other open letters.

_____________________
A Note From Monica

Authors are people who want to write for a living, but many of us have to hold down full-time jobs to keep writing. With the continued push by all publishers to provide consumers with the content they want in the format they desire, the number of illegal downloads is growing exponentially. As someone who came up the ranks from ePub, I am excited to see eBooks taking the industry by storm. What I am NOT excited about is the number of illegal copies of digital books downloaded every day. Some readers don’t realize it’s illegal to download an eBook off a torrent site, and unfortunately there are others who don’t care.

To give you an example of how it affects authors. My book Obsession that was released in 2006 has been uploaded on numerous torrent sites with an amazing number of downloads. On one site alone, there were 8300 downloads. That equates to a lot of money for me. If all those copies of the book had been downloaded direct from the publisher I would have earned more than $18,000. If all those copies had been downloaded from a legitimate eBook distributor, I would have made $8052. As it is, I earned less than $3000 on the book overall. If you were to take that amount and multiply it by four books a year, that’s $12,000. Poverty level for a family of four in 2009 was about $22,000. Clearly there’s a reason for the image that artists suffer for their art.

I’m certain that this might sound like whining to some readers. I don’t see it that way. I want to write stories that please readers, but when some people unfairly download books they don’t pay for it’s wrong. It’s also wrong to assume my work should be available for pennies on the dollar simply because the format is cheaper to produce the work in. It’s important to pay the author their worth.

Far too many people see all the celebs getting all these multi-million dollar contracts and automatically assume that the rest of us are making big bucks as well. Not true. If you’re in ePub you don’t get big advances, although you do get monthly checks, which I really like. If you write for NY you get a nice advance, but when you break it down, you get very little because you’re still doing your own advertising and promotion. Between 2007 and present, I’ve spent more than $13,000 on advertising and promo. That put a HUGE dent in my advances and royalties.

I want to write for a living. IOWs I want to make enough money off my writing to live above the poverty level. I’m not looking to be rich, I’ll be satisfied earning what I earn now in my state gov’t job (which isn’t much). But I would like to work ONE job instead of two.

So help authors out, spread the word that piracy is wrong. I don’t mind sharing if you own a Nook or Kindle, because if you really like my work, you’ll eventually buy your own copy. But sharing for free on a torrent site is wrong, because when I see my $5 book going for nothing on a torrent site and realize that the loss is running between $8k and $18k, well lets just say it ticks me off. Not just because it makes me wonder if it’s all worth it. But first and foremost, I know that if I didn’t have to work the day job, I’d be writing MORE STORIES for readers. I’d be able to produce a lot more books than I can now. And isn’t that what most readers want? They want their favorite authors to have more stories available. Right now, I can’t accommodate that, which is frustrating.