I’ve written about my adventures with online piracy here, and in 2007, wrote this article on government’s impending crackdown on advertisers who support pirates. Call me Cassandra.
BTW, I will follow up on my research into the antics of html comics pirate Gregory Steven Hart, who has some interesting corporate connections. Corporate connections which owe AT&T millions of bucks, and are currently embroiled in a $20 million lawsuit (read comments thread here). Stay tuned!
(For added giggles, go here.)
I tracked the piracy of my work and my sales figures for years. At no time did I see any increase in my sales. If anything, increased piracy was in direct correlation to a decrease in my sales. Only after I set up the online comic and posted regularly for a year did I see my sales and income increase. (EDIT: Traffic began to increase in late 2009, and we saw a bump in sales in August 2010. There was a significant increase in sales in our third year, 2011. I’ll post detailed info as time permits.)
Online pundits enthusiastically cheer isolated incidents of sales blips after pirated works manage to move stock which, by any objective standard, would be considered low. The sales blip isn’t about piracy as awesome, it’s about a clever way to frame a modest sales figure into a media event.
In other words, it’s not a sustainable business model. An isolated incident is exploited for pirate propaganda purposes, when the market as a whole shows ever-decreasing sales. Any evidence to the contrary is just propaganda from the evil RIAA!
When sales go up, it must be about piracy! Piracy is great! When sales go down, blame it on the economy. Piracy is great!
While it is nice that a few artists are able to turn piracy into a positive, my experience with convicted criminal pirate Gregory Steven Hart was a threatening letter in response to a polite takedown notice.
A threatening letter from a guy who spent a considerable amount of time in the hoosegow. And who has a history of violence. Cheery. Followed by clueless fans upset that they could no longer get free comics. Why don’t those mean creators just go into business with him?
Because he’s a dangerous felon?
I’m just delicate.
For a considered perspective on piracy from a real journalist and filmmaker who has spent years studying the phenomenon, check out the blog of Ellen Seidler.
She began her broadcast career at ABC News in New York as an assignment editor, and then joined KRON-TV in San Francisco as a photojournalist and editor. Seidler is currently a professor of Media & Communication Arts at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, California. She has also been a lecturer in Digital Media at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and taught video production workshops for the Knight Digital Media Center at Berkeley.
Ellen has also produced/directed/ and worked as a cinematographer on a variety of independent film and documentary projects. Her directing credits include the award-winning documentary “Fighting for Our Lives-Facing AIDS in San Francisco” (narrated by Linda Hunt and appearing on PBS) and the experimental short “Et L’Amour” which screened in LGBT film festivals throughout the world. She has been a contributing writer for Logo’s AfterEllen.com and is the creator and editor for the the non-profit website, Breastcancernetwork.org.
Ms Seidler spent months tracking the pirated copies of her independent film And Then Came Lola.
Her blog isn’t manipulation of a sales blip to appease people who illegally download art into feeling like they are committing an act of goodness. This is careful study by a woman who has put a great deal of time and effort into a beautifully crafted film, only to see her efforts eaten away in baby duck bites.
She posts numerous examples, including her battles with the indifferent Google, which makes billions of dollars annually from online ads, many of which finance piracy. Google’s continued failure to stop supporting these ads is chronicled in all its frustrating glory.