Dec 10, 2007
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By Anne Holland, Content Director
While studying guidebooks about Nepal yesterday, I was appalled to see one of them blithely suggest shopping for cheap, pirated CDs and DVDs here.
I immediately turned on my laptop to dash off an email to the publisher.
I planned to say, “As a company *completely* financially dependent on the sanctity of your copyright, how can you recommend supporting breaking other people’s? Everyone who creates or publishes content -- every blogger, writer, video maker, etc. -- has an ethical obligation to defend copyright. That means not just your own copyright but the copyright of others.”
Many Americans, in particular, don’t realize the true damage of copyright pirating. What’s the big deal? Hollywood studios and music stars make gazillions anyway, don’t they?
The fact is, routine copyright pirating has devastated the local music and movie industries of many second- and third-world countries, including places such as Madagascar and Morocco where talented and beloved artists can’t make a living because they are ripped off so much.
Copyright pirating also strikes closer to home -- hundreds of millions of Google AdSense dollars are at risk in the legitimate blogging community. Nearly every single independent blogger I know who makes significant income from their content has had to fight at least one, more often many, plagiarizers who scrape their content for AdSense profit.
Sherpa has had its share of problems, most notably when one marketer, who shall remain nameless, posted illicit PDF copies of our Guides on a private website that he charged a $1,000 month subscription fee to. In the publishing world, this is not an unusual occurrence.
Anyhow, when I turned on my brand new laptop to register my righteous indignation to the publishers of that travel guide, I noticed something horrible. When the IT department back at the main office set up my new PC for me, they forgot to transition over my music files. My iTunes folder was empty.
I’m supposed to be writing a new 300-page Sherpa Handbook this winter. I can’t write a Handbook without my music playing! And, trust me, there’s no place I’ve found to purchase legit CDs here. Plus, at 128k max speeds, local “broadband” won’t support purchased iTunes downloads.
So I, the great defender of the American copyright, slunk into a local music store to buy some pirated CDs. At first, I pledged to buy only CDs that I already owned copies of. It’s sort of an ethically grayer area than buying content you didn’t already pay for legitimately.
But then Jack Johnson’s ‘In Between Dreams’ CD was playing on one of the shop’s sidewalk speakers ... and it sounded so good. I had meant to buy it in the past -- the real thing, I mean. I couldn’t help myself. I stepped up to the counter and said, ‘Give me that one” and, $5 later, owned it illegally.
Then I went straight to my local cybercafe and logged onto to my account at Amazon.com (one-click ordering is a godsend when you’re dealing with slow Internet speed) to buy a legit copy of Jack’s album. It’s en route to my home in the US right now, then my step-son will forward it to me here. I’ll throw out this copy as soon as I get the real thing in my hands. So, Jack and New Age Records, you have my money.
And, now, you have my apology as well.