Publishing: Is Piracy Actually A Positive?

Author Neil Gaiman used to get angry when he saw his work being distributed online for free. But then he noticed something odd. In areas where he noticed piracy of his books, sales were actually increasing.

This is in line with the experiences of other writers, also.

If the idea of being a writer is to be read, isn’t it best to get your work into as many hands as possible? It’s a numbers thing – the more people who read you, the more likely you are to have more paid supporters.

However, if you’re writing in obscurity, obsessed over controlling every copy of your book, making sure nobody is messing with your DRM, or tracking down pirates, then you’re likely to attract very few fans.

Here’s what Neil had to say about his change of heart on the issue of piracy:

“You can’t look on that as a lost sale. It’s not a lost sale. Nobody who would’ve bought your book is not buying it because they can find it for free. What you’re actually doing is advertising. You’re reaching more people. You’re raising awareness.

And understanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and what the web was doing.

Because the biggest thing the web is doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might not of otherwise seen. And I think basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.”

Check out the entire video at the Open Rights Group’s youtube page.

Thanks to Brave New World for the link.

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