Controversial Topic - Pirating Work


If this is a topic that you feel will upset you, feel free to share your opinion, but to do so in a respectful manner. If things seem to get out of hand this thread is going poof.

And in no way am I condoning the action of pirating. I just want to hear why people are for or against it, specifically when it comes to big corporations (let’s leave the smaller independent and niche writers be).

When it comes to big corporations or popular books people can find in stores like Barnes & Nobles, Indigo, Target, WalMart, etc., is it okay to pirate them (find a free PDF version online, listen to someone reading it on their YouTube channel as a bootleg audiobook, or so on)? If so, why? Is it just because the brand is big and can “afford to lose the money”? I’m not trying to bash or demean anyone’s perspective, I’m genuinely curious about the reasons.

And, of course, the thoughts expressed on this thread DO NOT have to represent YOUR exact feelings on the topic, they could just be the train of thought traveled to answer the above question.

Lastly, please don’t share websites with pirated work on this thread. Thanks!


It’s never okay to steal. If you can’t afford, you can’t have. Let’s say it’s one of my favorite authors like Donna Tartt, Emily St. John Mandel, Otessa Moshfegh, Susanna Clarke, etc. I’m sure those writers all have tons of money, but that’s not the point. They put literally YEARS of hard work into their books, and no one, regardless of income, has the right to steal their hard work. They’ve earned their paycheck, especially since they only get a fraction of the price of each book. Those authors aren’t responsible for your poverty. (By you I mean the general you of course. (>‿◠):v: There’s just no justification for stealing. ¯\_(ﭢ)_/¯


I’m in a weird place: strict standards, stealing is stealing. The absolutely moral stance is abide by the rules of owning digital copies of books.

That doesn’t mean I don’t understand that moral isn’t always merciful. Those are 2 wholly seperate subjects.

Thing is if I buy a hard copy, what I do with my copy is my business. An electronic copy? That’s where it gets to be more complex.

I could loan out my book, no one cares. I loan out my e-book and depending on how I do it, I’m technically pirating (because, hey, I’m not lending out my electronics).

The rights I have on a hard copy aren’t the same as the rights I have on digitally owned items.

Used copies being bought and sold doesn’t fund the writer. Me selling my digital copy is generally not an option.

Some parts of the world are running off stolen copies of books. There are people making choices about an education to get them out of being poor and eating.

But even when I own a physical copy of a book, the words therein are still the writer’s intellectual property. I can’t claim it as my own work just because I own it. So I expect them to be at odds with merciful because they are the lawful owner.

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That’s one train of thought I wondered about too. I was thinking (hypothetically, of course), if someone buys a book and then decides to read it out word for word on like YouTube or something and at the end says their interpretation of it is that then transformative, or is it still stealing because they pretty much just Mother Goosed the audience. But then you get into the sticky part of yes, you own the book, but now you’re putting it online (so bootleg e-book?).

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I’ve heard both of these arguments (and I’m not disagreeing with what you shared, just thinking out loud - well, through writing, but you get what I mean). I agree that a majority of authors don’t get paid their worth for coming up with whole universes, characters, captivating storylines, etc. that people come to love, hate, admire, and so on. I’ve seen some people argue that certain authors or stories wouldn’t be known if it weren’t for their story getting pirated, and they shared that such authors owe those who pirated the work their popularity or whatever. Do I agree with this latter statement, no, but I do like attempting the mental gymnastics to come to such a self-righteous high ground.

This topic first came to mind because I started out on the gaming side of Twitter and people were going at each other’s throats about pirating games from big companies and I remembered similar convos about books from a few years ago.

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anti-piracy is an accessibility issue. There are places in the world where access to information and literature is restricted by things like the government and I don’t think it’s justifiable to contribute to that restriction because you want more dollars in your pocket.

Also I’m pretty anti-capitalist when it comes to writing :face_in_clouds:. I think the rat race to make money off our stories is destructive and exhausting and i personally choose to run a more fun, rat leisurely walk :rofl:

there’s also some other problems with digital copies specifically. like even though you “own” a digital copy of a book, your ability to access it is dependent on the whims of a company that absolutely does not care about you. And i feel that if said companies deem it appropriate to deny my access to something i paid to own permanently (for example, what happened with the Nook app shut down), then maybe i will deem it appropriate to steal it back from them. joking… i don’t own an ereader


I’ve owned tablets for the purpose of e-reading in the past. I totally get it.


I genuinely need someone to explain to me the difference between a library (either of physical or e-books) and a pirating site. Scale, I guess?? Either way the book was obtained once and will be read by quite a few people. I do buy books when I can, or else borrow them from my school’s/the public library, (though I am currently on rather tense terms with my local library due to a dispute over volunteer hours), but I’ve also pirated books before.

I reread books all the time. If I like a book I’ve read I’ll buy it so I can read it again—when I was little I’d borrow hard copies of my friend’s books and if I liked the book I’d buy it for myself. I pirated a book I read before once because my friend who had lent it to me the first time was away. I read the first 2 books of a trilogy online and, when the third book in the trilogy came out, bought the box set. I’ve also pirated a few books I own—my parents are divorced; I go between houses—because I didn’t have access to my physical copy of the book. I’ve also pirated books plain because I wanted to read them. I could count the total number of books I’ve pirated on my hands—I don’t love pirating or anything, but I can definitely see why and how it happens. I’d never pirate from small authors. Those books are usually fairly affordable anyways, plus my school library is stocked with a lot of small author books. But when it comes to big books, when the number of readers is higher, my reading the book as a PDF online and not paying for it sort of matches up with the sort of non-paying readership that a library would provide, if that makes sense??

I feel like the reason digital piracy is so complicated is because the laws, ethics, and morals just haven’t moved at the rate technology does, especially with all the AI artist copywriter stuff going on. It’s still a… fairly new problem. It’s like J.L.O said about loaning out or selling the hard copy of her book vs selling a digital copy. We know there’s a difference, but the extent of that difference and what it means legally or morally hasn’t been fully defined yet. It’s all scale, I guess—I could loan a physical copy of a book to maybe 10 friends over the course of time, or I could post a PDF of a book online and dozens of people could read it at any given second, which would ultimately be way more catastrophic to an author in terms of non-paying readers. But if scale is the problem with digital piracy as a crime, would that not mean the scale of a book/author’s success also alters the ethics of pirating their book??

I don’t necessarily agree with the above statements—sort of just thinking out loud (or through writing, as Dolly said.) Just something to wonder about, I guess.


I’ve heard this before, too! There’s such nuances that it seems it’s a giant gray area of morals mixed with whatever else people could think of like laws and blah blah.


I was wondering what you were writing this whole time XD.

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Honestly, when I had money, I was able to afford things a bit more.

Since I don’t have any type of income and I have try and find other means of getting what I like, I’m pirating some things while other times I am not.

I get the whole “stealing is wrong regardless of your situation” and “think about the people you steal from”, I really do. It’s just not the easiest thing to do for some people.

Yeah, it hurts that people have to go with the whole “if you can’t afford the good stuff then get the really cheap similar thing.” type deal.

Yes, I know and understand people have to make a living. If I didn’t do some pirating a bit or anything, I would have never known about some things in the anime/manga world.

I can’t even afford to pay for Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, and Hulu, hell even the person I live with can’t afford that.

So, what do I do when I can’t afford to get to see the anime I like and when I am feeling up to it listen to the books I like? There’s plenty of options for me and right now, none of them are the easiest to reach besides the whole pirating thing.

Honestly, if the pirating thing stopped then, I’d probably be sorta screw.

Sure that doesn’t sound fair or makes sense, but yeah, things haven’t been easy for me money wise.

I can only hope that changes this year and sometime next year…
Just saying.


I didn’t even think about libraries, but that’s another interesting thought to me - where is the line exactly. I’ve borrowed books in college from friends that had bought the physical copy and remember hitting up their rooms like a library lol.

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I think it comes down to a numbers game?? That’s the only reason I can think people would get so pissed off by piracy vs libraries/loaning, but then yeah, it’s a matter of picking a number and drawing a line there, which we just plain haven’t done.

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This made me think of the big mess that happened a few years ago where people were buying digital copies (or sometimes even physical copies) of books (usually from smaller authors) and then returning them for their money back after they finished reading them. So many authors were rightfully upset and saying that people were then stealing from them. I remember wondering if there would be a difference at all if someone returned the book because they simply didn’t like it, but then the problem still remained that someone got the product (even if they didn’t like the book they still got to read it). Unfortunately, the human brain isn’t like an etch-a-sketch where we can just shake or heads and forget what happened.

I’ve also heard this argument from many perspectives like broke college kids, so on and so forth.

This made me think of Netflix and how they’re trying to crack down on password sharing because so many people don’t pay for their accounts, just go off one family members’ account. Is that wrong or right? It’s not for me to say.

Wishing you the best of luck! :purple_heart:

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I feel like there’s probably contracts involved with libraries, but I wouldn’t know unless I research. After a certain amount of years other works are fine to be shared, like Shakespeare, but that’s after hundreds of years.


(I’m most of the way through a library tech diploma) technically libraries pay for their copies. Or the person who donated the copy paid for it. If you’re a small author then individual sales like that matter… But if you’re a small author counting individual sales, you’re probably the one donating your book to the library ngl.

since there are millions of public libraries, it does add up when they buy copies. and it also acts as advertising. Lots of people go and buy books they see in the library, or books they borrowed and enjoyed.


Cool, we’ve got someone on the inside!

These were my thoughts. Like, I found so many good authors through the library. That’s how I first fell in love with manga as a teen and eventually down the Alice in Wonderland world that is anime, random library books. Advertisement there is definitely smart.


This one’s complicated.

One the one hand, you shouldn’t be stealing other peoples’ works. I mean, obviously. They’ve put a lot of work into it. If you don’t have permission, you shouldn’t be able to get it.

On the other hand, if you put any sort of work on the internet, it will be stolen and/or pirated and there’s not really anything that can be done to avoid this ;-;


That makes sense, thank you!! And I think the smaller authors scale thing lines up with what I was thinking in terms of scale yeah, because those individual sales even to libraries do matter when you’re counting book sales by singles or tens or hundreds but to bigger authors it would likely take up less of a portion. I feel like I could explain this better visually idk-


Yeah, the internet gets sticky. I’m now thinking of like school books and when it has again page in the front that says do not copy or distribute… And then it somehow ends up in a student’s packet from the teacher lol. It could be a magazine someone decided they liked something from and disregarded the message or something they found online, but people are going to people, and some people just decide hey I have free will, so I’m doing what I want.

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