Tension: Piracy v. Protecting the Right’s of Authors

By Charles Hwang

Reviewed by Jennifer Williams

Anti-piracy laws and the actions taken by companies to enforce them are not breaking news. Piracy has been around for as long as consumerism has and it’s not going anywhere. Despite this fact, when does protecting an author’s intellectual property rights outweigh the benefits of stopping piracy?

Everything from software to clothing has been the victim of piracy at some time or another, but a ‘children’s book’ was the last thing I would expect to see on that list. If you’re a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent or sibling, chances are you’ve come across “Go the F*ck to Sleep”. I was lucky enough to listen to a reading of the book by Samuel L. Jackson and thoroughly enjoyed it despite never having had extensive dealings with children and their inability to go to sleep.

Though the book’s publisher, Akashic, has spent little or no money advertising the book, the amount of viral buzz it’s received is astonishing. Most would say that this was a stroke of good luck and that Akashic should ride the wave of free advertising. Afraid not. Akashic isn’t completely denying the benefit of the viral advertising, but they still think it’s in the best interest of the author and the publisher to request that all websites and people hosting and sending the files cease and desist.

The best argument for Akashic’s action is that it should protect the intellectual property rights because that’s the purpose of the law and not protecting the rights would dilute the value of the author’s work. The counterargument is that if it weren’t for the viral buzz the book would not be on Amazon.com’s bestseller list, despite not having been released yet. The argument can go further to say that this will translate into stronger sales and that money that would have been spent on advertising can now be spent elsewhere.

The book is currently ranked 4th on Amazon.com’s bestsellers list, the author, Adam Mansbach, is set to go on a media tour and Fox 2000 has already purchased the movie rights. Regardless of what the sales end up being and how much revenue is generated for Akashic, it seems that the viral buzz did more good than harm for the author. We’ll see how much longer the book can stay on top, but perhaps Akashic will rethink its approach toward piracy in the future.

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