I’m feeling on a rant right about now, so forgive me, but ever since I became an author, I’ve been reading articles about digital publishing, including articles about piracy. Hate to say it, but I almost always come down on the side of the pirates.
I’m old enough to remember when the only options for visual media were (broadcast) TV and the movie theater. The first commercial DVD I ever wanted to buy was Dances With Wolves, and for some reason, my parents refused to drop $100 for it. Because this was pre-Internet, mostly we didn’t know what we were missing. When I first discovered Doctor Who, I thought Tom Baker was the only Doctor. Then I went to college and discovered there were four more! My first exposure to piracy was watching video-taped Doctor Who episodes that had been recorded by setting a video camera in front of a TV. Someone went to England a couple of times a year to video stuff for some friends in the U.S. I was lucky enough to be part of a club that received one of the 10 or so copies she made each year. Imagine my surprise when I finally saw a broadcast episode of a John Pertwee Doctor and saw the real color of his coat!
Anyway, my point is that mostly we didn’t pirate because we didn’t know what was available. Fast forward to today. There are two BBC series I’d love to watch. I discovered them by reading about them on the ‘Net (and seeing a few clips on YouTube.) I’d happily buy them, but I can’t. Oh, I can buy the DVDs on Amazon, but they are Region 2, and I can’t play them on my DVD player. It’s almost enough to drive me to the Torrent sites…
Take a moment to check out this cartoon from the Onion.
See my point? Now, I’ve read many author rants about “the entitlement of readers.” Well, why shouldn’t we want to read or watch stuff we’ve heard about? What’s wrong with that? Why are we bad for wanting to read a book we’ve heard about but can’t buy in our country or in our e-version of choice? Why are we bad people for wanting to pay money to get stuff legally?
If your business sells physical goods, you might not have to worry about this. But if you offer a digital product or any type of intellectual property, think long and hard before you put barriers in front of your customers. Don’t assume we won’t use other means to get what we want. Some of your customers are too honest to pirate, but they’ll be left with a bad taste in their mouth, and believe me, you don’t want that.