The following post appeared on my Facebook feed the other day, posted by an author who unabashedly leans left on the political spectrum… “Do you want to read The Room Where it Happened by John Bolton? Here it is in its entirety. Just don’t buy it and help to line Bolton’s pockets.” This post contained a PDF attachment of the digital version of the book in its entirety. In the spirit of enforcing copyright laws, Facebook quickly removed the PDF attachment, leaving anyone who clicked on her post, with a message that the contents had been removed.
While I understand the frustrations of this person, who feels that Bolton has no right to profit from his book due to his refusal to share this information during the Presidential Impeachment trial, I am perplexed with a writer championing the idea of giving away the intellectual property of an artist… even a politician.
The issue of the unpaid artist is not a problem only with writers. This conundrum involves musicians, graphic designers, painters, photographers, and anyone providing a service that can easily be shared digitally. How often have we shared a photo that we retrieved from the World Wide Web, with little thought of where the source originated, and with even less regard to how this artist is losing profit from each click of the Download button.
“I can’t afford to pay you, but you will receive so much publicity by donating your (Insert craft here),” is a phrase often echoed by well-meaning people who think they are providing an opportunity, when in fact, they are simply perpetuating the belief that artists should be sharing their craft for free, and that the next person is the one who should be paying for their services.
This challenge for all artists is only getting worse, with the Internet providing so many avenues for the pirating of digital copies of art. While we may justify our actions by telling ourselves that the person we are stealing from is rich and will never miss our lack of contribution for their product, the truth is, it is harder today for the writer/artist/musician to profit from their craft due to the pirating of property that is done without thought or consequences. Why do we think it is OK to download the Taylor Swift song we lifted off of a questionable website? Perhaps, because we can. And is Taylor Swift really going to hurt from the one swipe of a song?
The answer is, Yes. The pirating of property from writers/artists/musicians is theft. It’s time we acknowledge this, and time to step up and pay for their services. As I embark on the publication of my first novel, I hope that literary enthusiasts will not share my property just because they may think that, “It’s just one copy.”
Here’s a thought… Let’s think twice before hitting the Download button on the Internet when given the opportunity to receive the beauty of art for free. The writer/artist/musician deserves our respect, and just as importantly, our payment for their services.
Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Look for her debut novel, Chasing North Star September 29, 2020. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor