[nycbug-talk] SOPA DOA

Michael W. Lucas mwlucas at blackhelicopters.org
Tue Jan 17 11:34:17 EST 2012

On Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 10:57:34AM -0500, Edward Capriolo wrote:
> I did not read into SOPA beyond a glance, so I am not saying I agree or
> disagree with it. But I recently spent 9 months of my life writing a book.
> I sold 400 copies up to Q3 this year.
> I checked some USENET stats for number of times my book was illegally
> downloaded just a couple weeks after it came out. It was over 300,000. I
> can find thousands of sites to illegally download it from.
> It would be nice if I could just get $1 ( about 0.025% the cover price)
> from each person that illegally downloaded my book.
> Not saying that I am super brilliant or deserve to be rich, but what is
> fair is fair. You download my book I should get SOMETHING for it.


I feel your pain. I really do.

At my best guess, unlicensed downloads have cut my writing income by
about %40 -- assuming that I haven't expanded my audience and that my
books have not gotten worse with time.  But SOPA and PIPA were lousy
tools for eliminating unlicensed downloads.

The real problem is more insidious.

At a conference several years ago, a young man made a point of telling
me that "Absolute BSD" helped him stand up several dozen servers and
he was now printing money as a result. He wanted to thank me.  That's
always nice to hear. I thanked him for buying my book.  He said that
he had downloaded it for free, but that he'd now go buy a copy. I was
stunned, and let him walk away, alive, with all his limbs and
everything. (I'll be more prepared next time.)

As long as people think that this stuff should be free, and as long as
people invest time in bypassing access controls, no technological
means will prevent unlicensed downloads.

The same tools that let people escape government censorship can be
applied directly to books.  I've forced myself to accept that helping
Tibetans escape tyrrany is more important than my income. But I don't
have to like it.

If current trends continue, I'll probably stop writing tech books at
some point in the next ten years. If I'm not going to get paid to
write, and I cannot cure this sick compulsion to write, I might as
well write what I find most easy and fun.


Michael W. Lucas 	
http://www.MichaelWLucas.com/, http://blather.MichaelWLucas.com/
Latest book: Network Flow Analysis http://www.networkflowanalysis.com/
mwlucas at BlackHelicopters.org, Twitter @mwlauthor

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