Monday, July 27, 2009

Pirate Humor, and a Challenge

The funny first. I was checking hits on my blog and I saw that someone was querying Google for "chasing fire by angela benedetti torrent" recently. Yay, someone else looking to steal one of my stories.

Except I've never published a story called "Chasing Fire." :) Nor even written one. And when I checked, it doesn't seem there's anyone else named "Angela Benedetti" who's written a story by that name either. (Although there are a couple others of us; one's a meteorologist who publishes a lot of scholarly papers, and the other is a lady who works with children in Bogotá. So far as I know, neither one writes fiction.)

So it looks like this is one confused pirate. :D Not that I'm complaining or anything -- confused pirates are the best kind. Hey, dude? If you can find a torrent copy of a story by me called "Chasing Fire," go for it, with my blessing. [wave]

Moving on to the subject of slightly more competent pirates, someone finally did find a copy of "Learning to Love Yourself" and got it up on a torrent site back around the end of June. I sent a takedown note and, credit where it's due, the site took it down. It was up for however many days, though, and a bunch of people got free copies.

It's been argued at many times and in many places that piracy of this sort actually benefits the creative producer. That people who'd never have tried my work if they'd had to pay for it right off will instead download a pirated copy, and some significant number will like it and, being essentially good people, will then go and buy a legitimate copy. They might even buy more of my work, once they've tried my fiction and become fans. I'm pretty sure this isn't the case with the person who made the original request for a free copy of "Learning," judging by his/her comments in the request thread, but supposedly most of the people who use these sites are not actually selfish, entitled thieves, contrary to all appearances.

All right, fine -- let's test that.

Since the pirate copy was made available in late June, that's too late for any Pirate Bonus Sales to show up in my upcoming royalty statement, but about three months from now I'll be getting another one, covering sales in July through September. Surely that length of time is enough for most people to read a short story (about 3300 words), decide to buy a copy, and scrape together $1.29.

If my third quarter royalty statement shows a significant spike in purchases of "Learning to Love Yourself" -- not necessarily a huge flood of sales, but a clearly noticeable increase over prior sales trends -- then fine, I'll assume that there is some significant number of ethical people who prefer to try before they buy, but who do buy, and that the net result of the torrent upload was a gain for me. "Learning" hasn't been reviewed recently or anything like that, so there's no obvious other source of sales stimulus right now; I'm willing to credit it to torrent people, if it occurs.

[Caveat: if "Learning" is reviewed within the next couple of months, or if irony strikes and this challenge is publicized all over the web, that would clearly taint the experiment with multiple sources of attention for the story, and it'll be impossible to sort out what caused any given number of sales. If the situation remains as it is now, though, then I'll assume extra sales are to people who downloaded the torrent copy.]

So there you go. To BUGCHICKLV and associates: if you've read a stolen copy of my story, this is your chance to prove to the world (or at least to me) that you're not just a bunch of thieves. If I see that spike in the sales numbers, then I'll admit that all the pirate apologists who make the "But letting people read for free results in more sales!" argument are right, and I'll shut up about the issue. I'll let my publisher go after pirates and torrent copies if they want, but I'll personally leave it alone. Fair enough?

I think it's more than fair, myself.

So, let's see what happens. I'll check back in on this subject when my third quarter royalty statement comes in, in late October or early November, and then we'll find out whether piracy is actually "to the writer's benefit" in the long run, or whether that claim is just a bunch of thieves whining and making excuses.



Charles Gramlich said...

And so now we wait till the data roll in. You've got me curious about the results.

Angie said...

Charles -- I am too. It's going to be a long three months. :)


Travis Erwin said...

Confused Pirate. I fit that description.

But for the record I'm a pirate only in the fact I like rum and salty women.

Angie said...

Travis -- as far as I'm concerned, you can have all the rum and salty women your wife will allow you. :D


laughingwolf said...

you are too kind, angie... i'd keelhaul the mofos! GRRRRRRRRRR

Angie said...

LW -- I'd kind of like to. :/ I'm willing to be patient, though, and give them a chance. Which is easy to do when you don't have a choice in the matter, but anyway....


laughingwolf said...


Steve Malley said...

It's a strange wee world we live in, with constantly mutating, copyright-beating technologies locked in endless battle with the glistening hordes of Lobbybots and Lawyerdrones at DisneyMGMGlobalMegaCorp.

I tend to think of the number of times I've given or been given a book, that first, free taste that did more to spread the royalites than hinder them.

I hope you see that spike in sales... :)

Angie said...

Steve -- if people were passing around paper books, I'd be delighted. E-books are different, though, and at this point I don't have any paper books out for the pirated e-books to drive sales of. :/

Thanks, though; we'll see what happens. I'm hoping that the free "sharing" of my e-book will result in more sales, but I'm not holding my breath.


Unknown said...

Won't the true test be when your story Chasing Fire becomes the most dl'd file from the site? (after you write it, of course!)

My younger (she's 20) co-worker seems genuinely surprised when I "lecture" her about a certain book with sparkly undead beings that someone sent her (with a personalised cover - and then she printed and bound it at work ... *sigh*) and when I groan when she says that she saw a film where robots are in camo at the theatre ... and has it on her laptop at home. She doesn't understand the link between availability and payment. "It's on the internet" - as if this is explanation and waiver enough. It seems to be an echo (before it happened) like the failure of many nightclubs in the late 70's and early 80's, when they were no longer making a profit, 'cos the patrons were using drugs rather than booze, so the bar didn't make any money .. Whether this leads to a subscription service or some other financial model, I don't know ... but it certainly seems to me as if the younger generation/s feel a certain entitlement goes along with internet access. I know this is not true of all "young people", my own son learned to equate games dl'd from the internet for free as No Pay For Programmers (and therefore no games for children of programmers .. or internet access ... or food. And a later desire to be a musician underlined his understanding of the notion that art being free needs to come from the artist, not a random consumer), but unless they were indoc...taught things like that when very young, how do the rest of us hope to change their adult/nearly-adult mindset? and I don't think that all of it is down to younger people either. There is, I think, a spread of the Entitlement Virus worldwide.

p.s. I think that rec's from "friendlies" may boost your sales, but can't really see someone saying, spontaneously, "I got the first one free, but I'm going to pay for the rest.". Membership and active dl'ing from these sites seems to indicate a certain willingness to suspend use of their own paypal/cc/money order ability.

Angie said...

H -- massive apologies, I somehow missed your comment. :/

I agree with you, though, that it's an ever-more-common attitude among certain people (not all of them young, unfortunately) that anything available anywhere for free is free and only an idiot would spend money on something you can get for free. I also agree that this is something which can only be combatted at the grassroots level. I and other content providers can rant and headdesk all we want, but so long as kids are raised to believe that anything they can get their hands on is theirs, and hang out with other kids who believe the same thing, and grow up to raise more kids who also think they're entitled to any freebies they can scrounge from whatever source, the problem is going to continue.

I don't know, I can see e-books eventually becoming only promo items driving sales of paper books, rather than replacements for paper books. There's no way to prevent wholesale re-copying of e-books, and attempts to prevent it are inevitably both frustrating only to the honest customers and futile anyway. It'll be interesting to see where we are in another ten years.