|Photo credit: krissen on Flickr|
Me: Have you read [book title]? It’s fantastic.
Reader: Oh! I downloaded that book off [pirating website] onto my Nook not too long ago! I should start reading it!
Queue internal raging.
Look, I’m not going to lecture you about the legalities of pirating—we all know what is and isn’t legal, and the technicalities involving laws that are enforced and those that fall between the cracks. This is nothing new.
Truth be told, what infuriates me about pirating isn’t even the law thing—it’s the wide-spread erroneous belief that pirating is a harmless wrong, like a white lie. But the truth is, pirating isn’t a victimless crime—by illegally downloading books, you’re harming the very people you want to support by reading and enjoying their books.
I’m talking about the authors.
Time and time again, when I talk to people who pirate material (whether books, music, movies, etc.), the argument I get is a variation this: the author/artist will be fine. One download won’t make a difference.
That’s probably true—one download wouldn’t matter much. But that type of argument is making the assumption that you are the only person on the planet illegally downloading that book. And that’s simply not true.
The other assumption often used to justify pirating is more of a subliminal message: published authors are rich and thus can take the hit from a pirated book. But by and large, this too is a falsification—writers make a living by (surprise!) selling books. And every book that is downloaded illegally is a hard-earned sale taken away from the author.
With every book that you pirate, you’re basically telling the author that they don’t deserve your support. That you don’t value their hard work. That the book that they wrote is worth nothing.
You’re essentially stealing from the very writers whose work you’re enjoying.
I don’t just avoid pirating because it’s against the law. I avoid it because if I think something is worth downloading, then it’s worth compensating the creator fairly for his or her work.
What do you think? Is pirating books (or anything else) an acceptable practice?