I remember when pirated films first became all the rage, but I never truly understood the concept. Who the heck got anything out of watching horrible cam-recorded copies of movies that only caused eyestrain and headaches? It was just easier to go to the theater—back when going to the theater was far more civilized than it is today—and a whole lot less hassle. Then again, a studio would sometimes shoot themselves in the foot.
Director James Isaac found that out the hard way when his film, “Jason X,” was shelved for two years by New Line Cinema due to internal politics. Pirated versions started showing up and by the time the film was released, die-hard fans of the franchise had already seen it. The studio lost money and learned a lesson from it, but it still didn’t make it right. So what’s the deal then with pirated eBooks?
A couple of things come to mind as to why someone would pirate an eBook. First, the cost of actually buying a new electronic book. A publisher doesn’t have to print them, doesn’t need warehouse space to store them, doesn’t need warehouse personnel to inventory them, doesn’t need a fleet of trucks to move them to distributors … heck, they don’t even need distributors. Why then, are the big publishers charging so much for new eBooks? Greed? There would seem to be a strong case for that since Apple and several publishers are currently being accused of and sued for colluding to raise the price of eBooks. Try as they might, they haven’t offered any reasoning for their pricing that makes sense to anyone but them.
Ironically, Apple came up in another search and is currently being sued by Chinese authors who say their books are being pirated through the use of apps in its online store. When complaints are received, the apps are removed, but soon reappear with no punishment made to the developers. Why might this be? How about because Apple receives a 30 percent cut of those sales? The better the pirated copies sell, the more money Apple makes. On the flipside, would Apple make the same amount through a legal app or is it more lucrative with pirated sales? That information isn’t available, so I honestly can’t say.
So, we have a company like Apple accused of raising electronic book prices in collusion with the big publishers and then essentially not being inclined to stop the pirating of books. Is it me, or does that seem like they’re playing both sides? If so, that’s a slippery slope to be on and somebody’s going to get bit in the ass. Meanwhile, who really suffers here? The pirates certainly don’t.
The first thing most folks tend to believe about pirated eBooks is they’re sticking it to the company (in this case, the publisher). Sure, they’re taking a hit. The second popular thing people assume when downloading a pirated eBook is that authors already have enough money and it’s isn’t hurting them. Who might those authors be? J.K. Rowling? Stephen King? Ann Rice? I’m sure even though they’re some of the wealthiest authors out there, it doesn’t mean money they’ve earned should be taken out of their pockets. After all, they did the work. They wrote the books. Why shouldn’t they get paid? The bigger problem is the sheer number of other authors who are hardly as affluent and taking the hit.
However, despite whatever reasoning people are coming up with to justify their illegal downloading of an eBook, there’s a far more sinister reason behind it; they feel entitled. Why? Because it’s there for the taking. That’s probably 85 percent of the problem right there.
The question it would seem to come down to is: Why should we struggle to contain the piracy epidemic when the companies involved in the creation and distribution of eBooks themselves are helping create a need for pirated material due to their pricing, and they’re working with a company that appears to encourage piracy? I’ve actually got an answer; because it’s illegal. Maybe that’s why they’re all being sued. I’m sure there’s a book in this somewhere. If someone at Apple writes it, they’re bound to make money off of it, pirated or not.