The whole piracy of ebooks thing...yeah.vito_excalibur
wrote a good post
elucidating her position, a lot of which I agree with, and karenhealey
said some stuff in response in the LJ comments
that rang really wrong to me, but I couldn't really put my finger on why. I've come back after dinner to find some responses by deepad
(The politics of discussing illegal file-sharing
) and colorblue
(this is not a post about yoga!
) that are very good in pointing out just exactly what I hadn't quite processed: just how Western the concept of intellectual property rights is, as it exists now.
Additional posts on this topic can be found at troisroyaumes
So, before I start talking about my own POV, please consider that there are other important viewpoints on the topic...but those non-Western views dovetail with my own concept.
I find it really problematic to say that you shouldn't access books illegally at all, full stop.
Firstly, I was fortunate enough to grow up in an area with a really good public library system, then went to college in an area with a fairly good library system as well; both are in the US.* Therefore, I have been privileged enough to expect to read nearly anything I want for free, given time and patience. And frankly, while in the US, I never really had the money to buy as many new books as I read, considering the cost of hardcovers and trade paperbacks even before the advent of ebooks. (I read a LOT.)
This is generally true of me overall: I don't like to buy things I don't want to own and consume again. Period.
In comparison to my past experience, the UK library system has been lacking. Birmingham was quite bad, Glasgow is better but not as good as what I'd like. According to people I've spoken to--anecdotal, but a variety of people nonetheless--the system is not as good as it was decades ago. And now, government cuts are suspected to be ripping the remaining guts out sooner rather than later.
So yeah, go ahead, tell me to make a request at my library, so they can buy a copy of your book so I can read it. They won't laugh in my face, exactly.
Assuming they can even buy a copy of your book at all, which brings me to my second point.
I now live in Britain (still Western, still with a high standard of living), but many books, even on major publishers, do not always come out here, and vice versa. (There are, for example, loads of books by FSF author Gwyneth Jones that are on a major UK imprint but completely inaccessible in the US. There's also a Jones book on Aqueduct Press that doesn't have a UK publisher, but I don't blame Aqueduct for that, it being indie.) And I really can't afford the absolutely ridiculous cost of buying from the US and shipping. Most people I know don't have that kind of expendable income. And I'm not sure why Karen Healey didn't really address this very satisfactorily (imho) in her own post.
This is not the authors' fault, but the fault of the publishing industry. What needs to be done, in my mind, is what needs to be done with television: a revision and opening of international licensing, as well as a revision of ereader accessibility and restriction. (I mean, I'd like something better, like government-funded universal library access and Creative Commons reuse/remix stuff. But that ain't happening in the current socioeconomic model.)
So...I'm kinda descending into incoherency and must sum up: I don't want to whinge about how I can't get a bunch of books...though, frankly, it frustrates me on a regular basis.
Instead, there's a deeper issue here of which my life only skims the surface due to privilege: saying that piracy is universally terrible and what...it's not good, but there is often no other access option. (Now, you don't want to go wave that in an author's face, that's just fucking stupid. And, as I noted, most authors can do fuck-all about the situation anyway.) In a globalised society, seeing reviews and recs for things dangling out of the reach of people with limited funds or not in the US stings like hell. You have to globalise access, and not just to the Western world, either.
Kinda comes down to bread and roses, friends. Bread and roses.
ETA: I believe everyone
should have access to information if they want it. Less about entitlement, more about fulfilling the bullshit lip service towards this sort of thing that's been going on for ages.* I'm not fond of US government/bureaucracy overall; this is actually probably the biggest thing I miss from the US system. Except perhaps the US Postal Service.