Copyright infringement: Response to a comment

posted in: Books, Creativity, Knitting, Publishing | 2

I was writing a response to a comment a reader left on one of my posts about the copyright infringement and my remarks seemed to get pretty long, so I’m turning them into a post.

Here’s the comment:

Hi, I was watching the debate from the other side of the fence – I’m
from Poland and have seen the Picasa galleries with scans, as they are
plentiful and from all around the world. I enjoyed them. Why? First and
foremost, because the stuff scanned is not available in Poland. There
are no libraries where I can borrow an English knitting book, there are
no bookshops selling the knitting magazines from all over the world, so
I can’t even spend some time among the shelves, leafing through the
pages. Believe me – if I could, I’d gladly pay for my own copy, to hold
and cherish, and make notes on the margins when I convert inches into
centimetres. And I’m not the only one. The books are the lesser
problem, with amazon.com – if you want something, you can buy it,
especially now. But the magazines? Can you find a solution to this
conundrum? There are beautiful pictures of patterns published online,
you want to buy a copy of a magazine, you are a holder of a valid Visa
card, and then… it turns out you can’t, because they don’t ship
outside US and Canada. That’s the Vogue Knitting case. I can’t
subscribe, no matter how much I want to. Then some of the US online
shops don’t accept credit cards issued in Poland.
Yes, publishing scans is piracy and stealing and I don’t ask you to
turn the blind eye and pretend the problem does not exist. Just try to
understand that sometimes there is simply no other way to even see a
design. And I guess that 99% of those who have visited the Picasa
galleries would go out and buy the books and mags – if they could.
Please, don’t rip me apart for this comment. Just try to put yourselves
in our humble Polish shoes for a while, with three or four Polish
knitting magazines available, an ocassional copy of VK available in the
biggest bookshops in the country and publishing houses reluctant to
publish anything that won’t generate instant, enourmous profits. I
personally can’t see any easy solution, although I do understand and
respect the action taken. I’d love to try and find at least a common
point for discussion.
All the best, Jo.

And here’s my response:

Hi, Jo:

I certainly wouldn’t rip you apart for your comments! And I welcome your observations. We’ve got a similar problem in the other direction. While reviewing the sites with the books posted, I noticed two Russian books that I would love to have copies of. I tried to order them through several online channels as well as through the publishers’ sites (in Russian . . . I read several languages, but Russian is not one of them!) and did not succeed.

I can’t speak for the magazines. And Vogue, which you mentioned, is a very large publishing company. I can’t speak for them, either.

I am one person who publishes a few books, one or two a year which is as fast as I can work, with graphics processing help from my daughter. We both work other jobs to pull this off, and we do without some things that other people take for granted in exchange for doing work we believe in.

It is possible to order the books that my small press publishes through Amazon. The books can also be ordered directly from my press’s web site. Payment is via PayPal, which will accept international credit cards and currency, and I’ll package the books myself and drive to the post office to ship them! I sure wish the postage costs were less . . . although our books can go in flat-rate envelopes by global priority mail. Amazon is probably more reasonable in terms of shipping and the current exchange rates. European yarn shops can, and some do, obtain our books through a wholesaler.

I’d love to have you be able to leaf through the books to see if you want to buy them before you get them, but at present the contracts with various easy-to-access providers who allow that are not okay for small publishers to sign, in my opinion. I keep trying to figure out a way around that one, but have not succeeded yet (in part because I don’t have time to devote to hunting down a solution, or I can’t afford the ones I have located). I buy knitting books sight-unseen myself, because the ones I am most interested in are also not in local bookstores or yarn shops (although there is one yarn shop about an hour from my house that does have a good supply of all sorts of things; I do get there a couple of times a year).

I’d love to come up with a different way to fix this: a way that perhaps publishers, large and small, could deliver their content digitally *and legally,* so the designers and editors and others could earn a bit of money for their efforts.

I’m delighted to try to put myself in your humble Polish shoes for a while, and appreciate your efforts to put yourself in our humble U.S. shoes, too! Some U.S. residents aren’t humble (I’m sure some Polish ones aren’t, either), but the knitting designers and at least the independent publishers (and the editors at the big houses) are doing this because we love it, not because it’s the most effective way we could find to earn a living. We do have to make enough money to pay our bills at least minimally or we can’t continue. And to keep doing our work, every cent (or grosz—do I have the smallest increment of currency right?) matters.

The articles, magazines, and books posted publicly are available to EVERYONE who has access to the internet. If everyone else gave their work away for free—doctors, grocers, house-builders, and the like—we could, too. But they don’t.

One thought my daughter had was that if knitters in Poland wanted magazines or books on a regular basis that they could not obtain otherwise, they could perhaps arrange for knitters in countries that can obtain them to send them copies. Money could be transferred through PayPal. Maybe this could be set up through Ravelry or another network. Or maybe there’s an opportunity for someone to set up a business importing these magazines and books. They could be pre-ordered and prepaid, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a gamble. It’s a thought. . . .

All best, Deb

P.S. We work to put metric conversions in our books whenever possible. There has only been one item so far that I haven’t been able to convert; it was a concept based on yards per pound, and just didn’t work out neatly in the metric system.

P.P.S. My press’s web site is www.nomad-press.com . It is not quite up-to-date, because we haven’t had time to work on it lately. We’re working on the next book. . . .

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2 Responses

  1. Angie

    Nice response that provided some potential avenues for the commenter to obtain the desired books and magazines.

  2. Susan

    Some of the magazine publishers are starting to sell individual patterns off their website. Interweave Knits is doing this. They also put online photos of all the projects in the magazine. I don’t know if they accept Polish credit cards, but worth a look.

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