Monday, 17 September 2012

You Tell Me | Embracing Piracy

Today is... a special day.

Today is the first international Cuddle a Pirate Day!

Every year from here, on the third Monday of the month of September, we will be be asked to put aside our differences to give momentary comfort to criminals: to rippers and scanners and hackers, who take the labours of love our artists spends years of their lives eating last night's leavings to create, then distribute them for free on the internet.

I do not approve of these doings. Nor should you, if you've any interest in keeping the writers you love in mouldy toast and so on and so forth.

But that doesn't mean we can't all have a hug. :)

In honour, then, of said strange occasion, I wanted to point you all towards this article on Giant Bomb, which breaks down the huge boost in sales brought about when the developer of a widely-pirated video game - a fast-paced, point-and-click puzzler called McPixel - took The Pirate Bay up on an unconventional offer: essentially, Sos Sosowski agreed to advertise the torrent containing his creation on The Pirate Bay's front page. He urged potential pirates to spend some time with McPixel, and if they enjoyed it, to consider donating a little something something via PayPal.

In short, Sosowski "gave piracy a high five and came out alive."

So I was wondering: could this shock drop in the ocean turn the tide on the pirates?

Well... it's unlikely, isn't it?

That said, I think it could make a real difference in the ongoing conflict between artists and those who seek to steal their ticket to a hot dinner.

With that in mind, could this ironic reversal be applied to publishing? Because of course novels are widely torrented too: thanks to enterprising scanners, free e-books can often be downloaded day and date with the release of official printed or electronic editions.

So authors, talk to me: how would you feel about doing something along these lines? Would you be prepared to pop in to The Pirate Bay or the Mobilism forums to basically shame potential pirates into paying their way, for once?

Meanwhile, readers: I have a question for you too. What effect do you think this would have? Smelly as I don't doubt they are, put yourselves in a pirate's shoes — and let's not pretend we haven't all been tempted at some stage. Would the pleas or remonstrations of an author immediately below the big Nick This! button put you off your mooted pursuit, or are pirates simply criminals, oblivious even to personal appeals?

For my part, I believe this could be a reasonably effective means of taking some of the anonymity out of piracy. I'm sure it isn't a fix, but then I don't know that any such thing exists, or ever will.

And better a band aid than an open wound, no?

But what do I know? You Tell Me, me hearties!


  1. Two things that need to be mentioned everytime there's pirate talk (from a gamers perspective, don't know too much about book piracy)
    1. Publishers never actually post any kind of numbers when talking about piracy (Unless it's something like Ubisofts "95%")
    2. More or less every study done on the subject shows pirates are (by far) the biggest spenders online. Even the study HADOPI did, showed that and that's the French governments anti-piracy agency we're talking about.

    It's ridiculous that we're now almost in 2013, and Valve still seems to be the only company that understands that the way to fight piracy is to offer a better service for paying customers (which is the exact opposite what everyother big publisher is doing).

  2. Well I'm with yah I don't like those yaarn pirates making a profit for themselves .. giving the fact that most of the things that were pirated this days are coming in from digital mediums like games and softwares ... I don't think books would be on top 3 I like comic books and there are tons of comic book to read to read ... we needed to stop the yarn pirates

  3. Here's a fact - people acquire books and art and games and music and whatever it may be in a manner of different ways. Most of the time, we're introduced to books (I'm going to shorten the list for the sake of this comment section) through other people. My favorite authors? Almost all of them were introduced to me through some form of lending, whether from a library, a school, or a friend. I didn't pay for the book. But then I liked it, and I decided I wanted to buy the book (and the author's others). I wanted to support the author.

    Piracy is a mass-media form of this sharing. This makes it scarier for publishers, but that shouldn't be the case. At the end of the day, people want to support artists and creators and authors that they like. People who upload books or music online are not doing so for their own benefit. They are doing so for the benefit of potential readers and fans worldwide. The method by which they are going about is illegal because of its scope, but on a fundamental level, I don't think any of us believe sharing a beloved book is necessarily wrong.

    What I'm trying to say... that idea that pirates aren't paying, that they're just cruelly stealing money from the noble creators? False. Pirates buy. They just don't necessarily buy before they consume. Publishers shouldn't encourage piracy, exactly, but they should encourage free eBook downloads. This is what gets people reading your book. Plowing on with these outmoded notions are silly at best, and longterm it's just going to be harmful.