The kind without a parrot. The kind that, in this case, pass around copies of e-books. recently, Mysti Parker pointed out a website that had a request for one of her books. I went and checked them out, and have engaged some of the self-described pirates in conversation.
The owner of the website has stated that he takes a very strong stand against ‘libel’. I find that somewhat amusing, but I will play along. Everything I say about copyright violation should be assumed to be alleged and potential. I’m sure that in actuality, Cory Doctorow, Stephen King, Anne Rice, and all the others have actually gone to the site and uploaded all of their own content to be distributed for free by this one particular website.
The site bills itself as “The Ultimate E Book Library”. tuebl.com is where it is hosted.
Here is a link to where the current owner explains himself. I find the appeal to moral law a bit… Ironic. Nevertheless, there is his viewpoint.
The discussions have been interesting. I’ve found that you won’t get much traction using words like “theft” or “steal”. Instead you’ll get dragged into a philosophical discussion that is a waste of energy. I’ll summarize the view point: If they take something without paying for it, but it doesn’t deprive you of the actual thing taken, then it isn’t theft. I don’t get it either, but that’s what they say. I’m fairly certain that the satellite television industry already fought this fight for us, but it is back. They have not yet found a rebuttal to saying “take what isn’t yours without paying”.
One idea that I had presented to me was intriguing. It is similar to Netflix, only for books. What if there was a way to subscribe to a service that would allow you to borrow books based on a monthly fee? They would say that it should let them download it and keep it, but I don’t think that compares. Netflix and Rhapsody both require (as far as I know) ongoing subscription to continue using the product.
This would require some infrastructure changes. Ebooks would have to be allowed unlimited loans. Time limits could still be enforced, but the one loan only would have to be lifted. Licensing would have to be arranged. A website to support it would need to be set up.
So, writerly friends, if such a thing existed, would you be interested? How much would you need, financially, to support such a system? Would you want a single, large payment, or a small fee per loan?
I’m thinking this: $10 per month gets you unlimited book loans, two or three at a time. Loans last 2 weeks, but can be renewed indefinitely as long as there is no waiting list. The copyright holder gets 50 cents to a dollar per loan.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Hot shot web programmers? The idea has intrigued me enough to think about it, anyway. Netflix and Rhapsody have made it possible for those that think they are on a moral high ground to stop pirating. Obviously those that are using excuses instead of reasons will still pirate, but it gives a legitimate channel for a pay per read system to those that would pay.