Many people love to read. They own many books that were either legally purchased or legally received for free. At times authors even exchange books with one another and will sometimes give their books away for free. There has been an eruption of activity these recent months that led to the closing down of a piracy website that distributed illegal copies of an author’s book without author or publisher consent. Sometimes these copies are mere rough drafts, but other times they are the finished result of a product that has been published and distributed across book retailers and libraries.
While books and knowledge should be accessible to everyone, it is imperative to understand that these things do not always come for free. If you’re expecting free books and free knowledge and intend to gain them illegally you need to study piracy law and the consequences behind those actions, or head to your local library where you can borrow these books for free and remain legal. Remember those who illegally downloaded music and then shared them for free for multiple users? They were caught, arrested, and fined quite a lot of money. This same thing could happen to any book thief or to any piracy website that steals and gives books for free without author or publisher consent.
You may think, well this is the Internet, so it’s okay. No. It’s not. You need to take a step back and look at the piracy laws when it concerns stealing copyrighted material. This includes music and books and other copyrighted materials. The Internet is just a large database housing a zillion websites, of which many of these are commerce websites where you purchase a product. Bookbub.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Bam.com, Amazon.com, Smashwords.com, Alibris.com, to name several all sell books. You cannot go to their website and take a copy of an electronic book without paying for it and just say “Well, it’s the Internet.” Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Unless the book price is $0.00 you have no business in attempting this. These websites will charge you and if they are unable to, they will report you to a credit bureau and your credit score will drop.
Let’s think back to why it’s not okay to steal a book.
- It’s illegal. Piracy is the illegal distribution of copyrighted goods, from music to books, which causes the owner of the copyrighted goods a direct loss and monetary harm.
- It is punishable by law. This means you can be fined and put into jail.
- It makes you an asshole. There are dozens of legal websites where you can get books for free. I’ve gotten quite a few books for free from Amazon.com and others I’ve only had to pat $0.99 cents for. Half of these includes non-fiction books.
- It takes away the author’s/publisher’s ability to keep their books on the shelves. There was an author, whose name I forget, who had her book stolen and distributed for “free” on an illegal piracy websites for anyone who wanted it. Because of this theft, the publisher had to take down the book and the book deal and legal distribution of the book were canceled. (If you are the author who this happened to, or know who is, contact me so I can add in a name). This made it unfair to hundreds of readers who eagerly waited for the book to come out so that they could purchase a copy.
- It makes you into a thief, plain and simple. Bottomline, if you steal something and then give it away to a knowing person, you also make them into a thief or an accomplice if you want to be technical. Again, such actions are punisable by law.
- An author could even sue you for stealing their copyrighted material. Yep, you read correctly. They can sue you. Doesn’t sound much fun does it? And don’t think you’ll never be caught, because your Internet activity is constantly monitored from your Internet Provider and there’s always a way of getting deleted information.
Further, let’s suppose you worked hard at something, such as a music sheet and a song that you potentially composed. You write the melody and then you write the song. You are so proud of it that you publish your work online for sale. But then, you start noticing these piracy websites distributing your work for free. Suddenly, someone gets your work, changes your name to theirs, and then sells it to a music producer. And then there goes your money, because you now have to use whatever money you did earn to legally fight for your copyrighted material. This means attorney fees, court costs, getting the music sheet and song taken offline, all of which can be time consuming and costly. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
Perhaps next time before you head to a piracy website and illegally download a stolen book you will think twice. Think about what if this was happening to you as an author? Think about the recuppersions that would be dealt against you. Stealing is a crime. Look for free books at your local library, online libraries, or on Amazon.com. Be smart. Don’t be a thief.