Tag Archives: copyright

Authors Answer 149 – eBook Piracy

Pretty much everything that’s been copyrighted or patented has been copied. There are bootleg copies of Rolex watches, bootlegged and pirated movies, sharing of music with peer-to-peer sharing software, and eBook piracy. It’s the last one we’re concerned about. This week’s question was asked by Gregory S. Close.

Question 149 – What are your thoughts on ebook piracy – is it a terrible scourge, a necessary evil, or potentially great viral exposure?

C E Aylett

That’s a tricky one. I mean, before ebooks were around how many times did you lend or were lent a book? We didn’t recognise it back then as piracy, but it amounts to the same thing — sharing a work you didn’t have the right to distribute. Of course, that’s small scale compared to how things are shared nowadays.

I came across one of my Kindle stories on a reading site the other day, actually. I thought I’d investigate further and hit the ‘read online’ button to see what happened. It asked me to register and give my credit card details, even though they promised they wouldn’t take any money from the card. Obviously, alarm bells were clanging and I declined, but it did make me wonder how it worked. If I had given my card number, would I have been able to access the story for free, and if so, how can that be when it’s a story solely on Kindle and should be behind a paywall? If they had scammed me and taken money from my card, would I have had access to the story for free and who the hell is making money on the back of my work and not paying me? Because Amazon are the only ones who pay me for those stories. It’s one thing having stuff out there for free because you want to share your work or gain readership but it’s something else entirely if people have access to unlimited content for a small fee that isn’t being paid to the authors of the material the hosts are profiting from. That is noxious. But it seems the life of an author, sadly. Most short fiction publications want you to donate your work to them for nothing, too. It’s attack on the author from all sides!

D. T. Nova

A mildly annoying scourge, maybe? It’s bad and should be discouraged, but I think the scale of it isn’t sufficient to be as big a concern as some people make it to be.

Paul B. Spence

*Shrug* I don’t feel like it affects me. I could see it being a strategy for viral marketing, if anyone wanted the book. The way I see it, people who want to buy my book will buy my book. If they are pirating lots of books, they probably won’t ever read mine anyway.

Cyrus Keith

Any kind of intellectual piracy is the kind of arrogance I’d relegate to someone with the mentality and moral compass of a fly. The worst part is, they don’t respect anyone else’s privacy and property, and think nothing of stealing from others, justifying their theft through entitlement thinking. They don’t care how much blood, sweat and tears we have to pour out to create our work, they just want a free ride on our coattails. My blood pressure goes up even thinking about these cretins, these leeches, taking food from my table, stealing from my pocket, not caring that I struggle to meet my own bills. They may as well be coming through my window and making off with my wallet. There is no excuse, no good reason for what they do, and I wish I could implant something in every one of my books that could detect a piracy attempt and fry out their hard drive. I believe I’ve answered the question.

Gregory S. Close

I think piracy sucks, and there’s (generally) no excuse for it. I have no problem with friends sharing individual copies of paperback or ebooks, but actual piracy, where the book is taken and distributed to millions upon millions with one click – no. I don’t buy the “it gets you more exposure” or “there’s nothing you can do about it” arguments. It’s stealing. You are taking something that an author worked very hard to create and produce in a qualify way, and you’re not compensating the artist. That sucks. It’s also a bad way to ensure ever getting further creative content from that artist. If someone really wanted a free copy of my book, for example, they might try ASKING me for it vs. torrenting it.

Eric Wood

At first, my initial thought is that it’s a terrible scourge. I wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and walk out with a (or many) book without paying for it. Why I would I do that online? I might as well take the money right from the author’s pockets. However, with the internet being the internet, it’s going to happen. So perhaps it’s more a necessary evil? It will help word of your work spread when one reads it (for free or otherwise) and tells others that they read it and liked it and encourage others to read it who then go out and buy it.

Jean Davis

As much as it might potentially be great exposure, I work for months, sometimes years on a book. Giving that effort away for free doesn’t pay my bills. It’s not like I’m working for some giant book making company that pays me regardless and can absorb the losses piracy creates. When you don’t purchase the book in one way or another, that’s lunch money for my kid, my electric bill, etc, that falls short.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’d call it a “scourge” any more than I’d use the same word to describe the thousands of people who pirate each episode of Game of Thrones (hey, if HBO is going to make it effectively impossible to legally obtain episodes in Canada, I’m calling the piracy fair game!). A necessary evil? Perhaps, because it’s simply one of those things that’s nearly impossible to avoid, so why bother worrying too much about it? Potentially great viral exposure? I guess that depends on a number of factors. All in all, I can personally say that, as an indie author with little-to-no royalty income to her name, I do find the idea that people might be passing around pirated copies of my book to be very vexing. But then again, these pirates who are reading the book probably wouldn’t have ever read the book if they hadn’t been able to pirate it. So it’s one of those situations in which you almost have to just be happy with the less crappy option; either way I’m not getting paid, but at least someone is reading the book. Was my thought process bouncy enough for you on that one?

H. Anthe Davis

As someone who doesn’t write for the money, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. So long as people are reading it, I’m happy. Though I’d like it if they’d leave a review somewhere…

Jay Dee Archer

Necessary evil? No, it’s not necessary at all. Scourge? Probably not as bad as people may think, but it would be incredibly irritating for me to find that one of my (future) books is pirated. Potentially great viral exposure? Exactly how is it going to go viral? Thousands of people download the pirated copy, and I don’t see a single penny? No. Absolutely not. I’ve been working on this for years. I want my money. Am I greedy? No. Any artist who works on something for a long time, putting so much time and energy into something, would want a return in their investment. While I don’t expect to be a bestseller, I want to be able to pay bills. I have a family to support. Just like I’m not going to write for someone for free just for the exposure. I write for you, you pay me. Same thing if I was doing photography. You want me to take pictures for you, you pay me. You want me to paint a picture for you, you pay me. I write a book and spend a large amount of time and effort on it, I expect to be paid for it. So, eBook piracy is stealing. It’s that simple.

How about you?

Are you an author? How do you feel about eBook piracy? If you’re not an author, but you’re a reader, how do you feel about obtaining books through questionable means without giving compensation to the author? Let us know in the comments below.


I Have a Content ID Claim on My YouTube Video

This is a first. One of my YouTube videos has a copyright claim on it through Content ID. This is not a copyright strike against my account, but it does notify me that someone has claimed that there is copyrighted material on a video of mine. As a result, that video is blocked in Germany. I made a video talking about it. Please excuse the wet hair.

The video in question is one of my A Taste of Japan videos that shows a couple yosakoi dance performances, and one of the songs has been Content IDed.

My question is this: has this ever happened to you? And what did you do? What do you think I should do?

I have several options:

  1. Do nothing. The video will continue to be blocked in Germany.
  2. Delete the video. No one can watch it.
  3. Mute the section that has been Content IDed.
  4. Replace the Content IDed section with YouTube-provided music.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 30 – The Validity of Fanfiction

Anyone read Fifty Shades of Grey? That bestselling novel was originally a Twilight fanfiction. It’s been overwhelmingly considered a terrible book with bad writing and horrible editing. Incredible that it became a movie. Does this make fanfiction a valid form of literature? Well, this week’s question comes from OpheliaMorse.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 30: What do you think of fan fiction as a writing medium? Do you think it has credibility despite the subject matter?

H. Anthe Davis

I think fan fiction has an emotional credibility, if nothing else.  Look, I really like fan fiction — I’m the one from a previous answer who said that’s what they wanted out of writing.  Some can be extremely inventive, or emotionally resonant, or tie things up better than the author did; others can be ham-handed self-insertion or plot-less sex.  All of that is fine, in my opinion.  They all show engagement with the source material and a desire to be part of it, and can be a great way for a fan-writer to hone their skills before jumping off to their own project (or for blowing off steam in between their own projects).  I never wrote fanfic myself — I was acutely uncomfortable with the thought of not doing others’ characters justice — but I’ve had years where I read a ton of it because I wanted more of a world and the original author(s) just hadn’t provided enough to sate me.  With the Kindle Worlds thing Amazon is doing, maybe fan fiction will be able to step up into legitimacy.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I have mixed feelings about fanfiction.  On one hand, a major aspect of writing fiction is the creation of a setting and characters that make sense and go well together.  A fanfiction writer has that part of the job done for them.  On the other hand, it might be just as difficult fitting your own story and ideas into a fictional universe that isn’t yours, and not change that universe into something of your own creation.  When done well, fanfiction can be a skill I respect.  But I’ve also seen plenty of fanfiction that butchers the author’s original stories for the sake of wish fulfillment.

Amy Morris-Jones

I think fanfiction can be a great jumping off point for writers. It provides writers with a ready-made set of characters and situations that the author can then extrapolate from. However, I don’t like the idea of publishing fanfiction without the permission from the original author. It’s not fair for a writer to financially gain from someone else’s idea. It’s at that point in the process where the writer needs to move beyond those characters and create ones of his/her own. A writer who can write good fanfiction can also write good original fiction.

Caren Rich

I think fan fiction is fun and it allows the reader to continue the story of characters they have enjoyed.  I don’t know if it actually has commercial credibility. But, I’ve never read any either.

Jean Davis

Fan fiction can be a great exercise for those starting to write or experimenting with different aspects of writing. When I first starting taking writing seriously, I dabbled with fan fiction to figure out how to make readers feel, to find what point of view worked best for me, to learn to describe settings and objects in a way that created a visual image, and how to create a beginning, middle and satisfying end.

Playing with someone else’s world and characters creates a level of freedom that allows the writer to focus on other things. Some of the hard work is done for you. You have world rules to work with, a setting, you already know the characters, their goals and weaknesses. All you need to do is figure out a storyline that plays, at least to some degree, into what already exists and start writing. It’s also a great tool because you have a readership who knows the world and the characters and if you get something wrong, they will tell you. There’s a level of accountability to get the details right and describe things correctly.

D. T. Nova

I think fan fiction is one of the reasons that there are more writers now than ever before; it’s a good way to ease into writing, since it involves some of the same processes as original writing but with less work required because the characters and worldbuilding already exist.

Because it involves a lower level of creativity than original writing I would say that it has somewhat less credibility, but it has some and there are published authors who got their start with fanfic. (However, taking a fanfic and trying to pass it off as an original story just by changing all the names is not something I have a very opinion of.)

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Fan fiction has always gotten kind of a bad rap. It’s considered to be “lazy” writing, because you’re taking the world and characters that someone else worked hard to create, and plopping them down into your own plot. It’s not hard to agree with the poor assessments sometimes, because a lot of the fan fiction that can be found out there is poorly-written drivel that only came to light from a fanboy/girl’s desire to insert his/herself into one of their favorite tales.

But that’s not all fan fiction is about. Fan fiction is about showing your love for another’s writing. It’s about having fun and trying to honor that writing, and maybe even creating something new as a result of it. Think of all the movie remakes and reboots that are out there. Are they not, at their core, fan fiction? And sure, some of them might make you cringe a little, but some of them are absolutely amazing. Is “The Avengers” not a form of fan fiction, created through a re-telling of a pre-existing comic? You’re damn right it is.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for fan fiction, because the “genre” is how I really got into writing in the first place, and while it’s often scorned in the “professional” community, I think fan fiction definitely has it’s place. At its least, fan fiction is an opportunity to more easily practice your writing. At its best, fan fiction can turn into a worldwide phenomenon that brings something old and brilliant back out into the light.

S. R. Carrillo

Oh, yeah! Fanfic all day! Of course, as with any form of art, some are better than others. I’ve read fanfics written better than some international bestsellers. Just because something is written and predicated off another world doesn’t mean it should be dismissed as not being credible. Many great writers would’ve never found their way to original fiction without the gateway drug that is a good fanfic.

Paul B. Spence

I don’t feel that fan fiction has any place being published in any form; that includes the internet. I see fan fiction as a violation of copyright, which is backed up by copyright law. Fan fiction is, at its core, a derivative work. Therefore, it cannot be done without the express consent of the author, and if it is done, it is owned wholly by the author of the original work. Nobody can tell you that you can’t write it for yourself, but the moment you put it out there for anyone else to see  — whether you sell it or not — you’re breaking the law.

That said, I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with someone practicing their writing by writing things that are based on the works of someone else, but if you want to be taken seriously as an author, write something original.

Jay Dee Archer

I don’t have a problem with fanfiction in general. It’s a great way to practice writing without having to develop the world and characters.  Just focus on the writing and making a story. It also shows appreciation for a story.

However, there are some problems. Some authors don’t appreciate fanfiction, especially if it’s used for profit. It is an infringement on the author’s copyright. And what happens if someone believes that the unauthorised fanfic is part of the storyline? I could see the original author writing a new novel in the series that completely contradicts an existing fanfic, causing fans to question the original author.  Okay, so that’s probably unlikely, but you never know.

So, fanfiction is fine if it isn’t for money, and it’s not against the author’s wishes.

How about you?

Do you enjoy fanfiction? Do you think it’s a credible form of writing? Let us know in the comments below.