This is why trying to prevent book piracy is utterly futile

Paul Raven @ 16-02-2011

Remember last year, when Nancy Kress had a weird run-in with people who’d been pirating her books? Well, they got in touch again. Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

How about a nice science fiction story (or book) about how the Computer Virus Hackers come to your rescue in the 11th hour through the rise of automated Artilects, Artificial Intelligence that has a conscious awareness and want to save America from the Illuminati New World Order world domination.

[…]

We (VXers) are deadly serious about getting a positive message out about a solution to this NWO Illuminati, Masonic takeover of the USA and the rest of the world.

The rise of A-Life is upon us and we aim to steer it in the direction of saving humanity not destroying it for a handful of global elitists.

Regards – PZest (aka Paul Zest VX history and science philosopher)

[…]

No it’s not like Cory’s book, the difference between us (VXers) and hackers is that VX is about the machines not the individual hackers. Artificial Life is what rises from of the codes we think about. These machines will rise without the hand of man, but they come from the minds of men. This is the second genesis of life and the emergence of a conscious soul that will protect us ordinary humans in our desperate hour of need.

It could be the true rapture we have been waiting for, not the false rapture the Illuminati plan to inflict upon us with their Project Blue beam aircraft spraying the skies with radioactive Barium isotopes.

[…]

Real Artificial Life hasn’t come into existence yet by certain scientific *life* criteria but VXers will be amongst the early witness it when it does happen. A-Life will not come from an individual studiously coding his designs, A-Life will emerge from some complex system outside of our control (and probably our understanding). The one thing you can be sure of is that once things get going the emerging intelligence out of the second genesis of life will want to know what freedom and survival is, an not want to be bonded slaves under the control of evil industrial- military globalists.

The immediate question anyone’s going to come up with is “are these people serious, or are they just yanking Nancy’s (and everyone else’s) chain?” It’s an interesting question, but it misses the point… or rather, the real point is independent of the answer to that question. So I’m going to reiterate the important point again.

*clears throat*

Look at that. That is book piracy in action. That is what you’re up against. That is someone upon whom you’re attempting to use rational persuasion and logic in order to convince them that they shouldn’t copy your books and give them away for free.

Technological measures will only be seen by these people as an intellectual challenge..

Reasoned arguments will wither under the blowlamp of their own spurious logical framework.

You cannot defeat these people. Every attempt to do so will be seen as a validation of their efforts, not a discouragement.

Yes, this is the Robin Hood Complex in action. So stop playing Sheriff of Nottingham and focus on winning over the people who really matter: the people who might have bought your book if it were available to them conveniently at a price they consider reasonable.

Seriously, people, give it up; you’re tilting at windmills. No, it’s worse than that: you’re tilting at windmill tilters. You will never stop these people. Stop trying. Instead, spend the effort on connecting with your customers. That’s the only route out of this labyrinth, and listening to the dying croaks of the record labels will not help you at all, except as an indication of what not to do.

And cue complaints that I simply don’t understand the scale of the problem or that I’m “on the same side” as the pirates in 5… 4… 3…


A dialogue with a book pirate

Paul Raven @ 26-03-2010

Nancy Kress was tipped off about a website offering unlicensed ebook versions of her novels, and decided to get in touch with the person in charge. It’s an interesting insight into the mindset of the ideologically-motivated (but nonetheless confused) content pirate:

… permit me to point out a fundamental error in your thinking:A text is not a physical object, so it cannot be stolen. Ownership of such an agglomeration of symbols (since ‘unity’ here is inapplicable) is an impossibility. The best you can do is _claim_ ownership – but anyone else can do that too. There is no legislation that can successfully govern the ether, thank heavens.I make my living, partly, as a librarian, but I don’t claim ownership of my catalogue. It is there – it exists, but it is not my property. If anything, it is everyone’s property – as are your texts.

Somehow the guy (I’m guessing it’s a guy, but I suppose it could be a a girl) has reinterpreted the economics of abundant digital goods via some sort of pseudo-mystical pantheistic gibberish, confusing the ownership of intangible goods with the right to be recognised as the creator of an original work (two very different things, in both philosophical and economic terms).

It’s almost as frustrating as hearing Creationists twisting the language of science to suit their own agenda… and just as corrosive to informed discussion of the real issues.


Why Nancy Kress has gone to the Dogs

Paul Raven @ 03-07-2008

Nancy Kress - DogsWhile probably best known for her seminal sf story “Beggars In Spain” and the novel it grew into, Nancy Kress has authored twenty-three books (including thirteen sf novels), and won at least one of every short fiction award worth having in the science fiction field.

Her newest novel – a technothriller entitled Dogs – is about to hit bookstores everywhere in the middle of this month. Futurismic was proud to be offered the chance to ask Nancy some questions about Dogs, her writing in general, and – as it’s a subject that plays a strong part in much of her fictional output – genetic engineering and biotechnology.

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PGR: You’ve been writing about genetic engineering and its consequences in your novels for quite some time now. What was it about the field that initially sparked your interest?

Nancy Kress: What interests me is that this – unlike, say, FTL – is the future happening right now. Food crops are already being massively engineered (despite all the political problems with this); so are animals. Even humans have taken the first step by genescanning in vitro embryos in fertility clinics and choosing among them for implantation in the womb. Continue reading “Why Nancy Kress has gone to the Dogs”