Arg, I be a Pirate, eh!

Travis McCrea came across my radar because someone shared a link on Facebook. When I clicked the link I thought this guy is an asshole. To my dismay I realized he was a Canadian asshole. Jeeze. But hey, he’s got some admirable skills. I like how he manipulates words to justify his actions. If I were stupid, I might buy what he’s selling…erm, or rather I’d take what he’s stealing and then giving away.

Travis runs two sites he calls “a book sharing website and a movie discovery website.” See how those words sound so harmless? The problem is that legitimate book sharing sites share books that are not pirated. Same with the movies. If you want to go the honest route, try this Travis, “I run a piracy site in which I copy books and give them away, thus stealing money from the writers’ pockets, because they want to continue to write and work their day jobs. They love working for free. I’m quite proud of myself because I like to be called a pirate. All morons love to be called pirates. It makes us feel important and sexy.”

He says his site works like a library, lending books to folks who have the hardcopy but want a digital copy or lending books to folks who want to check out a new author. You’re not lending the books. You’re copying them and then giving them away. Sorry, Travis, libraries don’t work that way.

If you’re a library, when a user ‘borrows’ an ebook, the file is then disabled on the server until one of two things happens: the reader is finished with it and returns it, or it expires. You, on the other hand, let hundreds of users download the book and keep it forever. Libraries buy each ebook they stock. If they stock five copies of one book, they pay for all five copies. Just as they do with paper books. Does Travis’s site work this way? Does Travis pay for every book he has on his site? No. He does not. Here’s the difference between Travis and a library: An author gets paid when his books are in a library. An author does not get paid when Travis gets his grubby hands on the book.

Although Travis calls his website the “Ultimate EBook Library,” it’s not. Permission is not obtained from the publisher or the author before posting books. We call that pirating. That’s okay though, Travis and his friends like to be called pirates. They are pretty clear about that on the blog linked to the site:
“Are you upset by the copyright monopolists destroying the websites you love, or do you run a website which you are debating taking offline because of the legal or financial pressure of running a website which could be seen as legally questionable? Patriots of the Digital Revolution, the organization which runs The Ultimate Ebook Library and is looking to expand it’s network to include another torrent or cyberlocker website and rescue it from being deleted by it’s admins.”

First, Patriots, can I offer you some tips? Read the fucking books you’re pirating and learn some grammar and punctuation, eh? I mean “it’s network?” Try “its network” and you might be right. Oy. Second, copyright monopolists? You mean the owners of the shit you’re stealing, right? The people whose hard work and imagination created what you enjoy? Oh them. Fucking bastards they are for wanting to be compensated for their work.

“We believe that sharing culture is a right and is a morally positive thing to do, and we are ready to take on the lawyers, the monopolists, and any other person who would like to stand in the way of sharing culture. We have created a censorship resistant array of servers all over the world; we have made friends with lawyers, accountants, political figures and some religious figures to help keep us safe; we have a line of succession as well, so if our leader is arrested, someone else will be able to take over management duties of the websites.”

Um…yeah. Religious friends? They’ll keep you safe? You have far more faith in religion than I do. Last I checked, they weren’t the ones handing out the handcuffs, but you never know. You have a line of succession? That’s fantastic! So they’ll have lots of people to haul away. Maybe you guys can be roomies when the shit hits the fan. How very typical of assholes to romanticize their illegal activities.

“The Pirate Bay might be the most resistant resistant website on the Internet, but Patriots of the Digital Revolution has the most censorship resistant server array that you have never heard of. We are ready to increase the size of our network and save sites from being taken offline. It’s time we make our stand against the abusive laws and powers from the United States and say “This is our Internet, this is our culture, and you will not take this away from us!”

“Resistant resistant website?” Interesting and confusing. Censorship resistant? What does that even mean? It is not censorship to demand that you pay for a product. It’s called commerce. Heard of that? It’s called I put in time, materials and energy to make a product to sell, you want it, so you pay me for my work and the time and materials used to make it. And I love that ebook thieves try to justify their actions by comparing book piracy to music piracy. You’re right. It is the same thing. And copying either one is illegal. You’re stealing someone’s work. You have no moral right to someone else’s hard work.

What do the American laws have to do with anything? “Our” Internet? No one can really claim ownership of the Internet. But even if it were “ours”, explain how that makes theft okay? The laws aren’t taking your rights away, Travis. The laws are there to protect honest folks. And they’re not demanding a lot of you. They’re telling you to ask before you take something that belongs to someone else. Once you have their consent, share away. What’s so unfair about that?

Do these guys even know how much the average traditionally published author makes on a single book? Cents. Unless they’re Stephen King (and maybe even then) they make a royalty that works out to less than a dollar per book most of the time. So because that author was paid less than a dollar for the first copy, the rest of the copies of his book should be free? It takes an author months, sometimes years to write a single book. Countless hours are spent writing, plotting, and editing to put that book on the shelf. You expect to be paid for your hours at work, why should an author not want the same. Because it’s a book means it doesn’t have the same value as other work? The reason that some of your favorite authors aren’t writing anymore is because they can’t afford to. It costs too much for them to bother. Sad, isn’t it?
On the increasing price of books (both paper and digital), I’m sure I don’t have to explain the cost of doing business and how that reflects in pricing, do I? Oh, in that case, let’s put it as simply as we can. When people shoplift items from stores, the cost of that stolen merchandise is not absorbed by the seller; it trickles down to the consumer. You see, stores price their product with enough of a markup to account for stolen items. Each year they look at average sales, costs and losses (that’s the shoplifted stuff) and they adjust the prices accordingly to make up the lost profits. Same with books, folks. The more books you steal—ahem, I’m sorry—copy illegally, the higher the price goes. Authors have no say in pricing, unless of course they’re self-published. Keep it up and books will be too expensive for even the honest folks.

“Patriots of the Digital Revolution is proud to announce a new server has been added to it’s array of censorship resistant of servers. The server name for this box has been named: “Koontz” after the author.”

I’m sure Mr. Koontz is flattered, fucknut.

Embracing the digital age does not mean you should have everything online for free. Jesus, folks, you act like spoiled children thinking you’re entitled to someone else’s hard work. You’re not. The Internet and all it contains will not be free forever. Get that through your heads now. Eventually, thanks largely to idiots like you who think you can just take whatever you want because hey, the creator earned money once on it and I shouldn’t have to pay for what’s already been sold, everything online will come at a price. Everything. Including Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, Pinterest, and such. Because you think you should have what you want when you want it at no cost whatsoever, we will all pay in the end. It will happen. It’s already starting.

There’s a little cartoon on Travis’s Facebook page. It’s amusing, if you like nonsense and bullshit. What it boils down to is an attempt to defend his dishonest activity. Copying is not theft because it makes one more, not one less? What the hell is wrong with your head? What school did you go to, so I can avoid sending my kids there. Their math curriculum leaves something to be desired. When you copy my book, you do make one less. One less sale. One less royalty. One less book for which I’ll be paid for. You say copying my work should be fine because now you have a copy and I do too. Actually, I like that math. I’m going to go out tomorrow and copy all my favorite clothes and my favorite house and…wait, that’s ridiculous. Exactly.

So what about the legality? What about the risk of prosecution. Pfft. They’re not at all worried. No one’s prosecuted them yet. McCrea and his pals like to point out that they don’t have to follow US copyright laws because they’re based in Canada. Well guys, Canada has some laws too. We’re not that fucking backward.

Let’s look at Canada’s copyright law a bit, shall we? As to being exempt to American laws, take a close look at “e” okay?

“27. (1) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to do, without the consent of the owner of the copyright, anything that by this Act only the owner of the copyright has the right to do.

Secondary infringement

 (2) It is an infringement of copyright for any person to

 (a) sell or rent out,

 (b) distribute to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

 (c) by way of trade distribute, expose or offer for sale or rental, or exhibit in public,

 (d) possess for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c), or

 (e) import into Canada for the purpose of doing anything referred to in paragraphs (a) to (c), a copy of a work, sound recording or fixation of a performer’s performance or of a communication signal that the person knows or should have known infringes copyright or would infringe copyright if it had been made in Canada by the person who made it.

Knowledge of importer

(3) In determining whether there is an infringement under subsection (2) in the case of an activity referred to in any of paragraphs (2)(a) to (d) in relation to a copy that was imported in the circumstances referred to in paragraph (2)(e), it is irrelevant whether the importer knew or should have known that the importation of the copy infringed copyright.”

That’s not the whole law in all its glorious detail. It’s just a section pertaining to general copyright infringement. But I think it’s rather clear. What they do is not legal in Canada either.

On his blog Travis writes:

“What I am doing is morally right. I am brining joy and happyness to people. If that breaks a law, then you can lock me up. The true beauty is that even locked up, you cannot stop TUEBL and you also cannot stop me from participating in culture. As long as I can write letters, blogs will go out and I will keep fighting for the freedom of individuals.”

 Last I checked, “bringing” has a “g” in it and “happiness” is NOT spelled with a “y,” even in Canadian English. But that’s being petty, isn’t it? If the man doesn’t read what he steals, who am I to judge?

The thing is, it’s not morally right, Travis. Perhaps to your own moral code it is, but not to mine, or the Canadian government’s, or most readers. The thing is, you speak for the minority when you say you’re fighting for the freedom of individuals. The majority of readers out there do not agree with you.

Perhaps our criminal justice system is more concerned with other types of criminals, but don’t worry Travis, I’m sure they’ll get around to you eventually. You’re not afraid of the law though. “Come and get me” you say. I am rather curious to see what happens if you have to actually do some jail time. You know, like in a real jail with folks who might not like your little “Arg, I’m a virtual pirate, don’t ya love me?” act. How much of that swagger will dissipate when Bubba Convict decides he likes the looks of your tight little pirate ass? But surely it’ll never come to that. You steal ebooks. It’s not like you’re a murderer. I’m sure there’s no worry of jail time.

Because I know some out there will regurgitate the free copies mean publicity argument, let’s address that too. File sharing and free copies do help authors build a reader base. It’s a good marketing tool when used properly. However, it is the artist’s decision whether or not she should use that tool. It is not Travis McCrea’s decision, and it’s not up to the many others like him who’ve decided it’s their right to just give away shit they’ve stolen. If the artist does not want to share her books for free, then that’s her right. It’s her property, her work. It’s the reader’s right to decide he doesn’t want to pay for her books. If he opts not to pay, then he just doesn’t read them. Period. He can go read the hundreds of authors who choose to list their books for free instead. See how that works in an agreeable and legal way for everyone?

Embracing the digital age does not mean you should have everything digital for free. Jesus, folks, you act like spoiled children thinking you’re entitled to someone else’s hard work. You’re not. The Internet and all it contains will not be free forever. Get that through your heads now. Eventually, because idiots like you think you can just take whatever you want because hey, the creator earned money once on it and I shouldn’t have to pay for what’s already been sold, everything online will come at a price. Everything including Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, WordPress, and such. Because you think you should have what you want when you want it at no cost whatsoever, we will all pay in the end. It will happen. It’s already starting.

Look, I’m not thinking I can stop piracy. I don’t believe I alone will stop the Travis McCrea’s of the world. I live in reality and I know that’s impossible. It sickens me that he hides behind the Canadian flag and attacks the American legal system to defend his crimes. Yes, crimes.

My goal isn’t to stop HIM or anyone like him. My goal is to make at least one reader say, “Hm, I didn’t think about it that way. I’d rather pay for the book, or find an author who offers her work free of charge. I’d like to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

2 thoughts on “Arg, I be a Pirate, eh!

  1. Why is it so easy for them to set up shop and so hard for legal owners of the work to shut them down?I'd like to take something of his and say I was morally right to take it. Fair is fair, right?

  2. I think that sounds totally fair, although I suspect he hasn't much worth taking, except maybe his Superman PJ's or his Spongebob nightlight. I hear those are popular on Ebay.

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