Paulo Coelho destroys piracy myths

Paulo Coelho, hotography by Xavier González.

Writer Paulo Coelho has yet again expressed his positive opinions on file sharing, now more than ever before, in a recent blog post.

”As an author, I should be defending ‘intellectual property’, but I’m not. Pirates of the world, unite and pirate everything I’ve ever written!”

Coelho is right on every point he makes in the post. Let’s check off the list with common piracy myths, and see what Mr. Coelho has to say.

Piracy myth #1: Books would never be written if the authors couldn’t expect to make money.

”In the former Soviet Union, in the late 1950s and 60s, many books that questioned the political system began to be circulated privately in mimeographed form. Their authors never earned a penny in royalties. On the contrary, they were persecuted, denounced in the official press, and sent into exile in the notorious Siberian gulags. Yet they continued to write.

Why? Because they needed to share what they were feeling. From the Gospels to political manifestos, literature has allowed ideas to travel and even to change the world.

”[W]as it the desire to make money that drove me to write? No. My family and my teachers all said that there was no future in writing.”

Not Coelho's drawing, but it could as well have been.

Piracy myth #2: Piracy equals to stealing.

”When you’ve eaten an orange, you have to go back to the shop to buy another. In that case, it makes sense to pay on the spot. With an object of art, you’re not buying paper, ink, paintbrush, canvas or musical notes, but the idea born out of a combination of those products.”

Piracy myth #3: If people can download books or music for free, they won’t pay for them.

”The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It’s the same with literature.

The more people ‘pirate’ a book, the better. If they like the beginning, they’ll buy the whole book the next day, because there’s nothing more tiring than reading long screeds of text on a computer screen.”

”In 1999, when I was first published in Russia ( with a print- run of 3,000), the country was suffering a severe paper shortage. By chance, I discovered a ‘ pirate’ edition of The Alchemist and posted it on my web page.
A year later, when the crisis was resolved, I sold 10,000 copies of the print edition. By 2002, I had sold a million copies in Russia, and I have now sold 12 million.”

Bravo. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(my added bolding of the quotes)

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31 thoughts on “Paulo Coelho destroys piracy myths

  1. These are not piracy myths, they are myths about piracy myths

    ”Piracy myth #1: Books would never be written if the authors couldn’t expect to make money.”

    Who claims that? Books will still be written but many great books would never be written. In terms of music and movies – it’s the commercial music and movies that the pirates download, when this no longer can be produced on commercial grounds, there will obviously be only lower quality music and movies to download.

    ”Piracy myth #2: Piracy equals to stealing.”

    Who claims that? Piracy does not equal stealing but it is in many ways similar to stealing since the a copy is made and spread without the consent of the creator and without paying for the copy.

    ”Piracy myth #3: If people can download books or music for free, they won’t pay for them.”

    According to a recent swiss study, those who download music (illegally) buy slightly less music than those who don’t download. They consume a lot more but don’t pay for it.

    According to a study performed by Mediavision, based on interviews with downloaders, they would have bought the media if they had not been able to download it for free.

    Some would of course buy after downloading but on average downloading causes great loss of income for the creators.

    1. If you read Coelho’s post, you’ll see he makes the exact same argument for the music industry, as do I in several articles. ”The more often we hear a song on the radio, the keener we are to buy the CD. It’s the same with literature.” The reason this post concentrated on the book industry was because Coelho is a writer, not a musician. To discuss music specifically, there are plenty of other posts.

      Since online piracy has been around (and increasing) for about fifteen years, how come there still are plenty of movies and music in high quality, both legally and illegally? The film industry has been on an increase, and the biggest blockbuster ever, Avatar, is also one of the most downloaded movies.

      Many claim piracy is stealing. In a quick search on your blog, for example, I found this article from September, in which Aschberg calls it stealing and you agree: http://nejtillpirater.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/aschberg-talar-klarsprak-om-att-illegal-fildelning-ar-stold/

      I can’t discuss the studies you refer to unless I read them, so please provide a link or at least a reference. It’s possible I’ve read them since I read a lot of studies on the topic, but I can’t remember all of them infinitely.

      1. Yes I agreed when Aschberg called it stealing but this was done in a metaphorical way. I don’t agree to the claim that piracy EQALS stealing.

        Piracy has similar affect as stealing but it will never equal stealing.

        1. How is it it has a similar effect? When you steal something, you effectively do harm as the original owner loses his possession. If you copy it, he does not lose it. It’s fairly simple.

          Again, can you send over a link to the study?

          PS. I think you mean it has a similar effect, not affect. DS.

  2. Correction to the previous posting:

    ”According to a study performed by Mediavision, based on interviews with downloaders, they would have bought the media if they had not been able to download it for free.”

    Should be:

    According to a study performed by Mediavision, based on interviews with downloaders, they would have bought the media in 25% of the cases if they had not been able to download it for free.

  3. How would affect work in that context?

    And I don’t understand German, so quite honestly I don’t see what I can take from the German report you sent me. Secondly, is it peer reviewed? In what journal?

  4. The problem writers have in getting readers to pirate their work is maintaining the whiff of the daring and illicit. Make it too easy or too obviousl it’s something you want people to do and, after the buzz about the groundbreakers hits a diminishing returns spiral no one will be interested. It’s like teachers making it OK to pass round copies of Hustler in class – be too open about it and everyone will start slipping surreptitious copies of Jane Austen under the desk.
    http://9pillsonline.com/

  5. I don´t know these two studies mention. But I know more than a dozen impartial studies showing:

    1 – Actual piracy losses are ridiculous or nonexistent.

    2 – Such losses would only affect super-selling artists (commercial artists)

    3 – Sales increase by the effect of free advertising. Something that is pure logic. Because if you have two candies two flavors and suddenly you find
    yourself with more flavors, it is likely that some of those flavors you
    like and end up buying one.

    One of the biggest myths is the supposed quality of copyrighted works. When 80% of these works seem a quality that really have and are as bad as many works with copyleft or free licenses. Not to mention that the authors have created with free licenses tenth
    of the resources and money they have authors who create copyrighted.

    Thus we have in music to people who do not sing, but it seems they do. It is what I call the ”autotune generation.” Antares Autotune and Celemony Melodyne Cyclone (now Celemony Melodyne
    Editor), two programs that are used in studies of music record labels
    and even ”live”, to modulate the voices of many singers who really know
    not sing.

    Another myth is related to sales and quality of the work. A work that has many sales do not mean better. It just shows that advertising and marketing has worked.

    Greetings.

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