Monday, July 30, 2012

Reading illegally


I've been thinking for a while about doing a post on illegal downloads and I was a little unsure. I thought it might offend some people, which is something I don't like to do. Recently I started thinking that Illegal downloads are, well, illegal, so I should be allowed to have an opinion regarding the issue, And, I should be allowed to voice my opinion, because this is my blog. So, nope... I'm not trying to offend anyone by writing this. I'm simply trying to voice my opinion about an issue.

Obviously this isn't just a problem that relates to books- yep, I'm calling it a problem, there's some opinion for you- but, it's an issue for other forms of entertainment. Music, movies, TV seasons, graphic novels, books... If it's a form of entertainment that can be recorded some how, then there's a chance you'll find it online. I'm not completely innocent in writing this either. I've downloaded a few songs in my time (and by few I mean literally like three), I've watched a movie online once and I read the first 'Twilight' novel on my phone. I don't feel great about it, but I know that compared to many people this is quite minimal.

Firstly I would like to list what I consider to be acts of downloading or sharing 'Pirated Copies'.
-Burning Cds or Dvds
-Downloading free files from a share site
-Uploading files to a share site
-Sharing the link to a pirated copy on a site like Facebook, Tumblr or Goodreads


Yep, for a lack of a better word, I used 'Bad'. I'm not saying that people who do this are evil. They aren't mass murderers or rapists. They probably don't steal physical objects or say nasty things to people. Some of my friends and family download stuff illegally. I'm saying it's bad, because I would like to show you all why I feel bad downloading stuff illegally and will not do it unless absolutely necessary (AKA can't buy a movie that was made in the seventies) and in those cases I often can't be bothered to search through pages of search results often filled with people asking questions on forums about where they can get the same thing, all answered with links that have since expired.

Morals and wants and needs aside, if somebody tells me it's illegal I put my goodie two shoes on and "Step away from the vehicle". Like the advertisements that play at the start of a DVD "You wouldn't steal a handbag..." Downloading illegally is stealing. You are getting something you didn't pay for. And, while the person/s at the other end might have a lot of money, stealing from them is still stealing. Uploading stuff to a share site is like stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. It can't be justified. It's not an OK thing to do. It's not legal.

I like to enjoy art. Music, Literature and Moving Pictures are all forms of art where your perception of the story/characters/setting etc can be affected by the quality. Static noises in an illegal music download, typos in an illegal book download and permanent foreign subtitles in an illegal movie viewing are all things that can distract you from the art. And, they are all quite annoying.

Again with the "art". Most artists (directors, actors, dancers, singers, pianists, writers...) are ranked against each other, not by how many people actually read their story or said they liked the film, but the amount of copies sold. In this day and age with all the illegal downloading/sharing that takes place, the person who's at the top of the list for '#1 Bestselling Author' may perhaps be the wrong one, which is quite sad.

Also in the beginning of that artist's career, they were most likely struggling. We all start somewhere and I've read and seen enough success stories to know that most of the greats actually started their career from a very low position financially. While they may be quite wealthy now, they wouldn't be where they are today if it wasn't for the people that supported them and actually bought their book. If every one of their fans downloaded the books illegally the author wouldn't make enough money to pay the bills and would give up on writing. Leaving some very disappointed fans (who quite honestly brought it upon themselves) and a disappointed author.

The money you spend on books doesn't all go to the supposedly "rich" author, but to the people behind the making of the printed word. By purchasing a book you could be helping someone in a publishing house stay in their job. Some proceeds from books even go to charity...

It's not fair that people who download books illegally don't pay anything while other people do. This is why I refused to burn CD's for my friends in high school. I had paid for the CD. I wasn't about to make a copy for someone else so that they could listen  to it for free when I had paid for it. This is also why people shouldn't Torrent their Galleys or sell ARCs. Publishers trust book bloggers with free review copies and people who do the wrong thing make it harder for genuine book bloggers to get review copies.

There are plenty of places where you can buy cheap or receive free books legally:
-2nd hand stores
-The Kindle Store
-Buy a set or Volume (the price per individual book tends to be cheaper
-The Library
-Borrowing scheme on Kindle
-Borrow from a friend

- I probably seem like a hypocrite right now. Why should I be rousing on people for downloading free books when I do the same thing. The difference is  that the books I get are for review. I had to go through a process to get the free books I get and part of that process was the publisher giving me permission to read the book for free. My job is to review the book, which generates publicity for the author and their novel. If you want to do the same Here's How.

-I don't get all my books for free either. My ability to get free review copies can depend on which publishing house the books come from, how many review copies are available and how many followers I have. I may receive a lot of free books, but I also buy a lot of books. I think I buy more books than most people I know in real life (as in not on the Internet).

-I know that I have it. There's no pressure to read it right away, because I own it. I like knowing that the author, publisher and cover designer all got the money they deserve. I can read it again. I can look at it whenever I want to...

-This happens with a lot of things. Buying a new style of underwear or a different brand of cereal costs you money, but you don't know if you'll like it. If you want to read the book and own it, it's a chance you'll have to take. You can read excerpts on, just like you can preview songs on Itunes, which will make your decision easier. I prefer to buy books, because I'm more likely to give the book a fair go (as in, try to read it even if it gets difficult) if I actually paid for it.

-If you bought it and you didn't enjoy it you can get some of your money back by selling it or you could donate it to charity or a library. There are many buy-swap-sell sites on facebook where you could sell the book, as well as sites like that allow you to sell your book 2nd hand for a credit that can be put towards the purchase of new books.

-So. Wait. Why should you get to read it early. I see people do this with TV shows and it bothers me, because they tend to spoil it for everyone else. Especially when they go onto Facebook and whinge about what happened!

-I know that this also reeks of hypocrisy. I do get some of my review books earlier. The thing is though, that it's not very often that I even get around to reading them before the date of release and if I do it's normally only a couple of days. Reviewers get review copies earlier because the publishers want to create publicity for the book before it comes out. Also, I try to make my reviews spoiler free.

The Negative Side-effects of Illegal Downloads:
If there weren't enough already listed in this post, here are some more negatives.

-Spending hours searching for something on the computer, when you could have found it easily in a store or online shop.

-Internet usage. Downloading slows down your Internet, which means you don't get as much of the fun stuff like Tumblr.

-Opening your computer up to viruses.

I Think It Really Comes Down To Priorities:
My Mum often says that we could buy a ticket to see a movie at the cinema for $12 each (and watch the movie once) or we could wait until the DVD comes down to $15 (paid once) and watch the movie as many times as we want.  

-Artists don't owe you anything. They create art for your enjoyment. It's up to you to spend your money wisely.

In conclusion, I think the list of reasons why people shouldn't download/share pirated material is extensive enough to make my point. I don't approve of illegal downloads. It  may be illegal to download/share pirated material, but it isn't impossible.

Your Favourite Blogger,


Katja Weinert said...

Super points, and really it's not expensive to get your hands on book at all! Just last week I picked up a waaaaaaaaaay to many books and they cost me a grand total of £0. A library card sure is a good tool :), granted I've got to hand them back, but that's a good thing since I'm low on space!

Alice S M said...

*sigh*. Okay Nat, you've 3/4 convinced me...the library it'll have to be. and I should get a paypal account and surf the net to find cheap copies. TV...I'll try but I dunno how I can do this one...I'll have to come up with another distraction...

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

You could always try watch it when it comes on tv? and paypal is awesome :) I think you'll like it. There is so much stuff you can buy online these days!