A couple of days ago, I Tweeted a link to a sobering assessment of media coverage of the earthquake aftermath in Haiti. The post decried a tendency to use language that characterizes the actions of disaster victims as criminal.
I was thinking of this as I read an interview with an unnamed “book pirate”, posted by C. Max Magee on The Millions. This isn’t to suggest that there is anything happening to book publishing that would be a drop in the bucket in Haiti (those wringing their hands about the state of publishing might keep this in mind).
I thought of Rebecca Solnit’s essay because Magee, perhaps reflexively, writes in a way that is steeped in the prevailing order (starting with the title, “Confessions of a Book Pirate”).
After reading the interview, though, I didn’t perceive a piracy threat. In some comments, I heard a piracy opportunity. My examples:
DRM suppressed this consumer’s willingness to pay more for content.
The interviewee seemed to distinguish between books as objects (1,600 of them in his home!) and books as information (the digital realm). And he was interested, if not certain, in other models that would support digital content consumption.
The books uploaded to file-sharing sites are mostly scanned physical copies. It’s a lot of work to scan and upload useful files. The people doing this work may not be saying “we want this content free”. The message may instead be “we want this content digitally”.
I don’t claim that this means more or less than it does. One interview makes for a weak signal. But the answers don’t seem much like confessions, either.