By J. DeVoy
In a stunning revelation sure to be devastating to freetards everywhere, not everyone who creates copyrightable work is Lars Ulrich or some ponytailed douchebag driving a BMW 7-series while demanding that the RIAA sue more people so his fat, dumb and entitled daughter can have a pony. The common plea from the anti-enforcement community can be summarized as: “How can you sue PEOPLE?!”
Well, it’s easy – people commit piracy. We don’t let thieves and rapists off the hook because they’re people. And while copying files is not analogous to either of those crimes, it is still an unlawful act, and one committed by individuals. In fact, there is no one better to sue, and more deserving of a lawsuit, than the individual infringer.
Here’s an example why. Athol Kay wrote a book about how to save and improve your marriage. He’s been writing a blog for at least a few years now, and consolidated all of his knowledge into an impressive tome about how to keep your wife thin, happy, and sexual. Pretty important stuff if you ask me, or even if you just don’t want to be one of the nearly half of married men who get financially pwned by divorce. He sold a PDF copy for a modest sum of money – $10 – that let him keep a decent chunk of change for himself.
Kay knew that piracy of his book was inevitable. He possibly even bought into the meme that free content generated sales. He thought it would balance out because people would pay the $10 in recognition of his work in compiling a sizable and massively important book. He was wrong.
40,000 illegal downloads later, Kay is out about $300,000 in royalties that he would have earned if people had purchased his book legally. He did everything the freetards told him to – he optimized his model for portability and low cost, efficient sales. He still got screwed by the basement dwelling turds who think everything should be free because the creator has not exhausted every last possible option in protecting his intellectual property.
To be fair, I would not have advised Kay to distribute a PDF copy of his book. But he made a business decision with his eyes open. He did not recognize, however, the extent of piracy for such a niche book. Kay also recognizes that not every one of those 40,000 downloads would have translated into a sale.
Now I know that if people actually had to pay for the book, 40,000 extra people wouldn’t have purchased it, but if even 10% of them did, that’s still a fair chunk of change and to be completely blunt… I deserve it. (source.)
Indeed he does, and the Constitution itself even says so, as it empowers congress:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries. U.S. Const., Art. I, Section 8, cl. 8
Not everyone who benefits from copyright laws is some fat cat raking in millions of dollars. In fact, few are. Most are just regular guys who had an idea, poured their heart and soul into creating it, and hope to get a return on investment for being smart and motivated enough to see their vision through to completion. I’m sure Kay is flattered that so many people want his book. But warm fuzzies don’t put food on the table – money does. If creators cannot get it on the front end with sales, they’ll recoup it on the back end with litigation.
UPDATE 10/21 – As Mike Masnick and others point out, including Kay, his initial figures were way off due to illusory downloads stated in order to generate interest in the files. His estimates were off, as were the stated lost profits. Sorry, I was busy.