Copyright infringement and other threats to independent designing, writing, and publishing

The post that I was going to publish tonight will be released tomorrow morning, except for this section that I’ve pulled out. This was going to be just a small portion of one of my usual multi-topic posts, but it’s too important.

Item 1 under "minuses" is a matter of vital importance not only to me and to the authors whose fine work I publish but to a lot of other people as well. It is serious enough to threaten the creative survival of the good and visionary and hard-working people who
provide energy and ideas to so many other people through their designs
and publications.

I stay pretty mellow most of the time. Sometimes someone steps so far over the line that. . . . Well, read Minus #1. The rest is just business as usual. Minus #1 is not.

On the independent publishing (Nomad Press) front:

MINUSES:

1. Shortly after I woke up this morning, I learned that someone has gone
to the trouble of scanning every page of one of the books published by
Nomad Press (that’s me, working in my basement in a room that only has
a plug-in space heater) and posted the results on the internet. I’m all
for freedom of information, but the author and I also like to pay our
bills (maybe, some day, install a heating duct in the office, stuff
like that). I don’t know anyone who is doing creative work in textiles who is not hanging on by a thread and doing without stuff other people take for granted. The author invested a number of years in envisioning, researching, and writing the book. I invested several years and put my so-called retirement at risk to design, produce, and publish it.

It was a lot of work to scan the book—probably as much work as we put into doing the rough scans for the preliminary layout. It is also illegal
(and, worse, immoral) to post the scans.

Clueless? Cruel?

The author
and I have taken the appropriate steps with the hosting site to have
the scans removed, but wow, I shouldn’t have to do this! The material
has been up since last August. When I wrote an account of this discovery at the start of the day, I said I could only hope that it’s inspired
people to buy the book, at the same time that I was working to protect
the author’s and my ability to earn a bit of income for the years of
labor that went into developing this book.

This evening, near the end of a normal fifteen-hour work day, I learned that this person has also scanned and posted on the internet—also in their entirety—many other books and
magazines on knitting and crochet.

I can’t think of a more effective
way to cut off the trickle of lifeblood that returns to the designers
and writers and publishers in these crafts. Believe me, it’s not a river of support that they dip into, and creative people have to eat, require shelter, even occasionally need to visit a doctor or dentist.

This person’s activities in making our work available free on the web are definitely heartless, whether intentional or not.

[ADDED 2/16/08: Thanks to several friends, we have traced the person who is doing this. I suspect she is not aware that her behavior is causing great harm to other knitters who are doing their best to make a partial living by publishing their research and designs. She appears to be an excellent craftworker who appreciates the designs to which she has access because we are publishing them. If she chose to simply say that she likes our work and then suggest that other people purchase the books in question or borrow them from libraries—she obtained our book from a library; the classification label is visible on the cover of her scan—that would be extremely helpful to us. People throughout the world can buy our books through Amazon’s various channels. Libraries are often happy to purchase books when patrons request them. And then we would be able to continue creating more books that she, and others, could enjoy. But not scan and post on the web, please.]

2. All of the shipping companies have just raised their rates (due
to gas prices). Because cover prices on books have already been set and
distribution terms cannot be easily changed, this is extremely hard on
publishers, especially the independents who don’t have a lot of
flexibility to develop compensating income streams.

3. Almost all of the people we sell our books to are prompt and efficient about paying for the cartons we ship out. Some are late, but that’s because they forgot or were out of town or the cat ate the invoice. They pay. Right now I’m having to deal again, however, with a re-billing of someone who was a new account, for whom I made a special trip to Kinko’s to ship out a carton of books so it would arrive in time for an event, and whose payment is now four months overdue. I’ve mailed statements, e-mailed reminders, and left voice mail messages.

Blecch.

PLUSSES:

1.The fall title is coming along. It’s in one of its nit-picky phases, so things are going slowly, but they’ll get done.

2. I heard recently from an author of a much-anticipated future title that she may be completing the manuscript soon.

3. One of the wholesalers ordered four cartons of books yesterday. I packed them
up and my daughter helped me drop them off at the package service on
the way to a doctor’s appointment.

4. Spinning in the Old Way just went back on press for the fourth time. A new print run of Ethnic Knitting Discovery has just been delivered, shortly after a new print run of Knitting in the Old Way.

5. I have plenty of freelance work right now, the stuff that helps support me while I do all the publishing work. I just need three of me to stay on top of all the deadlines and schedules!

And I always do my best to end thinking of the plusses.

_____

To support that habit, I’m going to go read some more in the issue of PieceWork that will be the primary topic of the next post.

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7 Responses

  1. I thought of you immediately when I saw Donna’s post this morning. It is always good to end with pluses, but I can see how this day would be a big MINUS full of heartache. I was upset for you, friend, and with you.

  2. Clueless AND cruel. I think your best hope is this: you’re dealing with textile people, and surely–surely!–textile people prefer to look at the actual book, to feel it, to be able to carry it with them at all times.

    Oh, and a good lawyer.
    I wish that someone could just make that person read this–I wish that person could meet you and know how phenomenal it is that you’re pulling this off. I’d like to think they’d take it down and start proselytizing for you instead.

  3. Donna,
    I wonder how we can raise the awareness of the public to this cruel and thoughtless act? Wonder if newspaper(s) would pick up and carry the hue and cry?
    Thank you so much for your diligence in this matter.
    Ruth

  4. Thanks to everyone for your comments.

    Lawyers cost money, and because this person has not been *selling* access to these scanned publications, any suit would be hard to win. Copyright cases traditionally hinge on diversion of the income flow to another entity, not just evaporating it by making the copyrighted information available for free. This type of theft has reached serious levels because of internet technology–the net is a blessing and an incredible challenge as well.

    Deb

  5. …wow. I’m always astounded by people thinking something like this is okay.

  6. Ladies, as much as I understand your frustration I wish to respond in a way that is not as supportive as other entries on this page. I am sorry to say that technology is going to grow with or without you. Anyone who expects a business to be protected against website publishing is probably around retirement age. If properly blanketed by a solid, reputable publisher the chances of protection are closer to a guarantee. Perhaps you should invest more time in researching publishers rather than letting everyone know something they already do. We know you have to eat and we know how unfair people can be. Move with the times or retire gals.

  7. Wow, the whole book? Unbelievable! I’m continually amazed that people think they can do this, just because they’ve purchased the book.

    Copyright infringement is a big problem in book arts too, and I’ve been writing a bunch of posts about it, hoping to raise awareness. The Center for Book arts recently had a professional development seminar on the topic which I attended too. If you’re interested, you can find the post about it here:

    http://leekottner.typepad.com/blogorrhea_ii/2008/03/book-arts-copyr.html

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