Book Piracy To Drive Authors to Extinction. Blog at 11.

In today's Times Online, Tracy Chevalier, of the UK's Society of Authors contends that the threat of Internet Piracy will ruin the book industry just as it has the music industry.

To a large extent I agree with this analogy, but its focus is wrong. The question should be what effect will it have on books, and how does that compare to the Internet's effect on music. To hell with the industry in both cases. The industry will evolve and change and look radically different in the end. The industry does not matter, what matters is will the creative works still exist?

To this the answer has to be absolutely yes. People will still create art of all kinds just as they have always done for many thousands of years. After all, copyright is such a recent concept in the grand scheme of things. And there will still be need for some incentive through copyright. Just not as much.

Ms. Chevalier does make a lot of the right suggestions as to how the industry will need to adapt, utilizing the Government, business, rich patrons and the public, to create new oportunities for authors; and what we can do to encourage creativity in a world with less copyright control "Government funding could take the form of an “academy” of salaried writers."

Notice no where does she ask for increased ISP liability or expanded copyright monopolies, as some groups position papers think is necessary.

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I agree and disagree in part.

I agree that the book publishing industry will eventually feel the same fate as the recording industry is and will continue to feel. New methods of production, distribution and funding will eventually largely replace the old ones.

I do not, however, agree with the suggestion that this means that composers/authors and performers won't be making money in a commercial industry. I believe it is as important to separate authors from publishers as it is to separate composers and performers from recording labels.

I do not think this means paper publication will go away. I also disagree with any suggestion that copyright infringement is, or will be, a significant factor any more than I believe it is the most significant factor for music. There is as little evidence that book authors are being harmed from unauthorized online distribution as there is that composers and performers are being harmed.

What is going away is the legacy need for companies to exist which pay the historically high costs of mechanical reproduction and distribution, and that act as specialized creativity-specific 'banks'. Self publication will become more the norm, and while people will still be able to hire promoters, editors and other important services, it will be the author rather than the legacy industry association members that will be in control.

I agree with the suggestion that this is 'just like' the music industry, which is being helped (not harmed!) by the Internet and its ability to enable people to get rid of some of the old-economy dead weight and return more of the rewards of creativity to the creator.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.