Sunday, August 30, 2009


I was driving in rush hour traffic on the DVP in Toronto the other day when a line from The Art of Racing in the Rain came to me. "The hands go where the eyes go." I couldn't remember if the quote was your hands/eyes or the hands/eyes so I looked for the book when I got home. Couldn't find it anywhere. I must have lent it to someone. I loved that book and shared it with everyone who expressed an interest. I work at a library. Lending books is something I do.

My nephew maintains that burning music is the same thing.I'm fairly rigid about copyright law. I don't want my stuff stolen so why would I steal? Karma pretty much rules my life. Burning music and movies is not the same as sharing a book. I've had many a debate with friends and family on the subject of pirating. The word "pirating" doesn't say it all?

In the case of books, either the library or I have bought and paid for those books,CDs and movies. In several cases, we've paid for a special license in order to share them. When you rip a file onto your computer, the artist/publisher/studio wasn't reimbursed for that property. And if everyone pirates and no one pays then the artist/publisher/studio will go bankrupt. In that scenario there are no more books/music/movies. It's a simplified black and white equation. There have been many arguments made for pirating. I just don't buy any of them.

I am constantly amazed at the number of artists/performers/writers who pirate other people's work. I don't understand it. If you really don't want to pay for that article, then go take it out of the library. Don't steal it off the Internet. If you want to share it with someone then tell them where to get it or buy it for them as a gift.

Is pirating different from taping/TiVoing/DVRing your favourite television show? Those shows aren't for sale. Revenue isn't being lost, unless you count the fact that people zip through the commercials. Is the primary difference borrowing versus keeping?

The sale of Intellectual Property, is hotly debated by people far smarter than I. Computers and the Internet make everything so accessible. That doesn't make it right to take. Educate yourself.

Jumping down off today's soapbox. Kinda high. Anyone want to sell a ladder?

After writing the above I went surfing and stumbled across this post that explained it all from an author's perspective. Piracy sunk a series.


  1. Well, I pretty much agree with you, so I guess I could climb up there with you. Keep you company. :)

  2. Oh, and there's a very interesting and informative opinion piece on this w.r.t. books on Patricia Briggs' website:

    He basically is providing the counterarguments for many of the arguments people make about why pirating is ok.

  3. Just had a conversation about this with my librarian sister last week. She says teachers at her school get really upset with her when she won't copy movies for them and explains why. She also said the kids don't understand that their parents are paying for them to download music on their IPODS.

  4. Pirating is all about sales. If you buy one copy, either for yourself or for someone else, it's all good.

    If you tape a movie playing on tv for your very own use, never to leave your home, it's okay.

    However, the rights to copy and/or distribute are owned by somebody else. If you tape it and then make copies to give out, even if you give them out for free, it's copyright infringement and it's illegal because you have interfered with somebody's revenue.

    It's not the copying itself that's the issue; it's the use you put it to. If you interfere with somebody's revenue, you are probably breaking the law.

    It's gotten particularly sticky in recent years because of digital media. Pirating existed before, of course, but the quality was usually so bad that the market was small and not really worth the effort. Digital media, however, is all too easy to copy, and the copies are as good as the original which makes pirating more tempting.

    Which is why my dad's library of VHS and DVDs that he taped himself is probably going to get thrown away. I really hate to think about doing it, but I don't see a choice.