In case you didn’t know, the DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For a good definition and in-depth look, you can read the Wikipedia page, but here is how they sum it up:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United Statescopyrightlaw that implements two 1996 treaties of theWorld Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.
I didn’t really give DRM and DMCA a lot of thought until Wednesday, the 30th of March, when I found someone giving away my short story, Exit 1042. Ouch.
There are a few reasons I’m fairly annoyed by this, and I hope you, as the reader, will indulge me a bit while I discuss why this is a huge issue for writers.
- Many of us authors are not raking in millions of dollars off our books. We write because we enjoy it, but we also depend on that sale to help feed ourselves and our families. I don’t make a fortune off my work, though I wish I did, but I need to be able to contribute to my family. When you download from a torrent from a not-so well known author, you may very well be taking away my ability to pay my bills or feed my adorable companion animals.
- Small-time authors don’t have the vast resources to fight each infringement, which means a person who is illegally downloading a book is fucking over the little guy. Small publishers and self-publishers are usually struggling to put out entertaining stories and good, if not great, literature. I know that many people who torrent are anti-establishment, and I’m cool with that because I’m pretty damn unusual myself, but think about it: you cannot simultaneously claim to be fighting exploitation of the little guy when you yourself are ripping off the little guy. I’m on my own to get this matter settled. Help me out by not downloading my book for free when it’s for sale by the author or a small publishing company. Yes, often places like Amazon get a cut, but that’s because they’re giving us a platform for our voices. Please don’t make it about them. It’s about the little guy.
- It’s ninety-nine cents, for fuck’s sake. Pony up the dollar if you want to read it. Most of my work is and will be offered at affordable prices. Print books will have to be more expensive because a lot goes into it and if I want to feed myself and my family, I have to put a higher margin on it. A lot of small-time publishers and people who self-publish set their own prices in order to make the right amount of money so they can support themselves and their small business.
- It is not a victimless crime. For the reasons I’ve stated above, you can see the pitfalls of downloading illegally. While I can understand the desire to stick it to The Man, I’m not The Man. I promise. I’m just a 5’2″ tall (short) little writer trying to make ends meet.
- It’s a crappy thing to do. Come on, you’ve read the reasons why it’s not cool. It hurts writers, and it keeps me from publishing more work if I have to keep diverting my attention to chasing down DMCA violations. I’m far more interested in providing people with entertainment at a low cost. In the long run, that’s going to lead to driving up the prices because I can’t afford to lose my electricity.
So for these reasons, I implore people to buy from small publishers and self-published authors legitimately. Give us a chance to entertain you on a full stomach. We’re much better that way.
If you’ve downloaded my work for free, you can redeem yourself in my eyes by going to my author page and purchasing a copy. I will love you forever and forgive you for your transgression.
Thanks for taking the time to listen and thanks even more for understanding.
Anne Hogue-Boucher is the author of Exit 1042 and eats onion sandwiches for fun. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook for funny and always fun posts. Want to read a free story? Here, read this one.