The same thing is happening to the book industry today. There are sites, a lot of them based overseas, where e-books are posted by folks who offer them for free to others to download. Some are e-books they bought then uploaded; some are print books they’ve scanned.
The Ethicist for the NY Times, Randy Cohen, addressed the issue as to whether this is illegal when a reader wrote in to say s/he bought Stephen King’s new book in hardcover form since the publisher held the e-book so that there would be higher hardcover sales. Then when the e-book came out s/he downloaded it from a pirate site. S/he wanted to know if that was okay since s/he had paid for the hardcover.
An illegal download is — to use an ugly word — illegal. But in this case, it is not unethical. Author and publisher are entitled to be paid for their work, and by purchasing the hardcover, you did so. Your subsequent downloading is akin to buying a CD, then copying it to your iPod.You might not be surprised to hear that publishing exec’s don’t necessarily agree with Cohen. According to The Consumerist, here’s what one exec said:
"Anyone who downloads a pirated e-book has, in effect, stolen the intellectual property of an author and publisher. To condone this is to condone theft."The Consumerist also noted that a reader commented over on TechDirt, where this was under discussion, and said:
…you have to pay to watch a movie at the theater or attend a concert, and then again to own that movie/concert on DVD or CD, so you should pay for both print and digital versions.Others disagreed.
What about you? If you bought the book in paperback or hardcover, is it then okay to pirate an e-copy?