Ebook piracy


There has been a lot of debate on the internet about the ethics of ebook piracy, a lot of which boiled down to “piracy is stealing”. I’m not saying I disagree with that, but…

Well, you should check out this links roundup from troisroyaumes over on dreamwidth, which is a little more measured. Specifically, it focuses on problematic issues with intellectual property rights seen the Western way. The part that especially resonates with me, book-wise (but there’s more here than that), was people discussing the availability of books (whether physical or electronic) in developing countries, and their price–which is a not-insignificant part of the problem. I’ve always thought that asking people to pay US prices for books or DVDs was ridiculous: take Vietnam, where the average salary is 50$. With that, if you’re lucky, you can buy maybe two English hardbacks? (and I’m being nice here, because I’m assuming said hardbacks aren’t subject to import duties). As qian points out, in Malaysia, an imported English book can cost 7-8 times the price of a meal, and getting it is a terrible hassle. I can see why it would give her the unpleasant feeling that “in almost every case, the author is not even contemplating that somebody like you will be reading it. You quite simply do not exist in their world.”

I’m already getting that impression of being ignored from all those ebook piracy posts–and I live in a developed country with high salaries, reasonable access to English-language books (amazon, book depository, few or no import taxes). I can imagine how much freaking worse it would be for people in developing countries.

ETA: fantasyecho has a further links roundup–some overlaps, but there are a few not in the original DW post. Like the earlier one–don’t agree with anything, but a lot of points are definitely worth taking into account.

Also, one of those linked posts has a very valid point, which is that “illegal” is not a synonym for “immoral”. A lot of those blog posts about piracy don’t make a clear distinction between those two words. “illegal” is what the state thinks is bad. “immoral” is what you think is bad according to personal ethics–and if it’s exactly the same as “illegal” for you, no more, no less, you’re demonstrating a scary amount of trust in your government…


Sorry. Comments are closed on this entry.