Yesterday I posted something half in jest on Larry Correia’s Blog. It did not go down well. Given his profession I can easily see why he was offended, and in hindsight I should not have posted it. I apologized but I also pointed out that the first time I read Monster Hunter International it was a pirated copy, and due to my enjoyment of it I have since purchased most of his work. This was not meant to in any way justify pirating, but simply to point out that sometimes pirating can be to a creators benefit. Now I’m not going to say that pirating will always be beneficial to a creator, and I truly don’t know whether or not the lost revenues from pirating are more or less than the revenue gained from pirates due to increased exposure, but in my individual case it was revenue positive for Mr Correia.
But that got me to thinking, what is the effect of pirating as it regards the independent author? While Mr Correia was offended by the idea of pirating an author’s works, I don’t get the feeling that he feels threatened by it. I would assume that he is successful enough that the lost revenues from pirating are fairly minor, and they are an invisible cost. Though as a former accountant, I would assume Mr Correia is probably better educated on things like that than most authors. But what about the guys who aren’t as big? Or what about the guys who publish independently? Many independent authors publish e-books more or less exclusively, and those are the easiest type to pirate. So I would imagine that its something that many if not most independent authors have had to address. However its not something I have seen discussed much.
I wonder if it is better to ignore it and hope the pirated copies turn into sales of other works, or to try and fight it? But how do you fight it? DRM tech is wildly unpopular, probably because its nearly impossible to create a DRM that can both prevent piracy and doesn’t wildly inconvenience or offend users. Not too mention I’m not even sure if most independent authors can afford to use DRM if it isn’t already in use by thier platform. I imagine a program similar to the “paper chase” idea Tom Clancy talked about in one of the early Jack Ryan books would be useful in determining who “Pirate 0” was, but then what? Unless the copy they got was from one of the publishers they had to have bought that copy right? And maybe it wasn’t even their fault, maybe they just made one copy to give to an friend who couldn’t afford to buy it, and it was that friend who uploaded it to the pirate bay or Kickass torrents. Do you go after someone who is presumably a fan and in so doing possibly alienate a portion of your fan base? And what if your book being on the various pirate sites is good for sales of your book? What then? Do you upload them yourself in hopes of getting greater exposure?
I don’t know, I don’t have answers to these questions but if I figure anything out, I’ll post it here.