You can hear his thoughts in regards to online piracy of his work. Back in October 2006 John interviewed Gaiman on his Cranky Geeks show.

  1. jamiepullman says:

    Yes, but…when I lend someone a book, I don’t have the book anymore. If I don’t get it back, I have to go and buy another copy. That’s happened a few times with Gaiman’s books for me. In other words, he would have lost those sales if I had given a bootleg copy to my friend.
    The Kindle way of lending ebooks is great. The sale is made and both people have read the book, but it only exists in one place at a time, just like real books do.

  2. bobbo, the law is what happens whether you like it or not says:


    The societal issue is not whether particular or all artists in general get more or less money.

    The societal issue is what makes for a “better society” as it may be defined: one with or one without the copyright laws/piracy laws we have now. The affect/money consequences to artists is only part of that relevant analysis, not the whole analysis.

    As in all things: pro’s and con’s to all we do, to every option.

    Its “common sense” that if bit torrent piracy were allowed some artists would benefit while most would not and the private pirate/consumer would benefit greatly.

    As always: who’s ox get gored? Very specific organized business entities or a more diverse group?

    The law on copyright is not changing soon, except for the worse==from the point of view of the general diverse group of “all” of us.

  3. Patrick says:

    “Its “common sense” that if bit torrent piracy were allowed some artists would benefit while most would not”

    It’s not common sense, if it were we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Your position probably has more to do with your feelings on copyright than any evidence. For example, those in favor of strong copyright tend to think few people will benefit.

  4. John E. Quantum says:

    When the big media companies (Sony)viciously defend their copyrights and then begin using extra-legal means to enforce those rights (such as the root kit they placed on CD’s a couple of years ago) while at the same time pursing their legal avenues of protection, they do more to encourage piracy than they can imagine. The marketing people get overruled by the corporate lawyers whose only tool is a hammer and who see every problem as a nail. There will always be thieves, but the vast majority of the consuming public will pay for content when given a reasonable and affordable way to do so. Many publishers realize this and now offer first chapters of books free online as an enticement.

  5. bobbo, deep down, what drives us says:

    Patrick–yes common sense tells me that when you can buy a product or get it for free, the free will over time predominate. If your common sense says that people will pay for something after they have gotten it for free, then your common sense is not mine—we don’t share it in common. ((honk! Honk!!))

    Hard numbers are hard to come by as either side is suspect. Still, I’m happy to assume my common sense is more widely shared than your common sense. I’m that self centered.

  6. Slatts says:

    Many years ago before there was an internet the big argument was about recording music off the radio. The same old claims as for downloading were made about artists loosing sales. I did a survey back in the ‘60s; I asked everyone “Do you record music off the radio and how many records do you own?” The answer most often was that those who did record off the radio had a far larger collection of records than those who didn’t often by a factor of ten.
    Incidentally an old fella back in the ‘60s when I mention this said he remembered that was what they said when sheet music was replaced by records in the ‘20s, that the composers and live musicians would loose out to these new fangled records!
    Same old, same old!

  7. chuck says:

    The fact that most writers have to come to terms with is that, 95% (more?) of all books written and published will sell a few 1000 copies. J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Tom Clancy (and others) are the exception. Outside the books on the NYT best-sellers list, most authors sell barely enough to get by.

    But, it also means that virtually anything they can do to get their book noticed will generate a relatively large uptick in sales. Gaiman said he got a 300% increase in one month. I’d guess that means instead of selling 100 books, he sold 300 books. So the cheque from his publiser was probably $300 instead of $100 (assuming he’s sold enough to cover his advance).

    If J.K Rowling had put the Harry Potter books online for free, she would still be rich — but not from book sales — it would be from the movies and other merchandising. And if the movies had been available for free before they got released to theaters, it’s likely they’d stop making the movies.

    Giving away some thing to gain sales is a standard marketing practice — it’s called a loss leader. But you can’t make money if you give everything away.

  8. TheMAXX says:

    2 things:

    1. The point Gaiman is making is that a download does not equal a lost sale. Those who can and want to pay for the book still will and those who can’t or won’t do not represent a lost sale, they wouldn’t have paid for it anyway.

    2. There have been big studies made by the UK government, the Canadian government, the Australian Government, etc. that all show that the people who download the most also buy the most and the works that are downloaded the most are also bought the most. The only studies that show that “piracy” costs copyright holders money are small studies paid for by RIAA type organizations.

    All media can be downloaded for free currently and yet all popular media continues to sell more each year… Sharing helps sales at any level.

  9. bobbo, deep down, what drives us says:

    #8–Maxx==even if true, the studies you mention don’t resolve the issue one way or the other. You need an alternate universe to “prove” one with downloads, the other without to see the net effect. There are a lot more variables than a simple survey will pick up, much less validate.

  10. deowll says:

    I’m not saying put everything out for free but putting some material out for free is very smart. I’m also saying that if you can sell it for a modest fee as a text file or on a Kendel do it because in most cases you will make up the difference in number of sells.

    This is the one thing I don’t think venders have figured out yet. Selling a $120 high end history book in print for $10 on a Kendel is going to make you a heck of lot more money in a lot of cases. Cost of printing is 0 and the number of buyers is many times as great.

  11. Skeptic says:

    One could also say that the radio has caused a lot of lost sales. When I was young, I bought hundreds of albums and 45’s. When they became available, and when I sold my $1000 turntable, I bought the CD’s for the best of the lot. Except for a few songs, by comparison to what was produced through the 60’s to 80’s, there wasn’t much that interested me.

    Songs have become similar, repetitive, ‘me too’, and annoying for the most part. I guess the younger crowd thinks a little differently, but even my own children 16-22 (I started a family late) see the difference in quality of the songs from my generation as compared to today. My son prefers Led Zeppelin to most of today’s diddlies.

    So although I’ve downloaded a few songs illegally becaus of a hit song that I particularly liked, I’ve listened to 99% of them only once or twice. Most artists manage to get out 1 or 2 songs of any worth, and the rest seems to be monotonous duplicates of the same theme. The radio is good enough for me. (I used to walk 5 miles to school through 4 feet of snow, and it was uphill both ways.)

    As for books, I still think most people prefer to read from a hard cover book of quality paper. Turning the pages by hand in a good suspense novel is more satisfying than pushing a button or rubbing a piece of glass. The term, “it was a real page turner” means something more than “it was a real button pusher” or “it was a real glass rubber”. That’s probably why Neil Gaiman saw an increase in sales. Until it becomes too costly to print books because of electronic erosion, I think authors like Neil Gaiman will benefit from ‘lending’.

    It would be an interesting social experiment, if for a period of 2 or 3 years, ‘they’ could cease the electronic pirating of any copyrighted material somehow. Then you might see the true effect of pirating significance.

  12. Floyd says:

    One can read a book in a lot of different ways these days. Besides buying a new book, a reader can for instance, borrow a book from a library or a friend, download the book, or buy that book from a used book store. Nowadays, there are of course Kindle books, EBooks and audiobooks as well.

    I will guess that it will be much harder in the future for publishers to figure out whether a particular book is new, used, or borrowed (I’m reading a paperback of Anansi Boys right now, incidentally).

  13. bobbo, deep down, what drives us says:

    In related news, it will soon be a felony to stream movies on line. Shoot–I was going to go commando as soon as my “contract” with Comcast was up. I have found everything I want to watch somewhere on the web.

    Pros and cons to all we do.

  14. sargasso_c says:


  15. Milo says:

    Same arguments were made about the cassette tape and the VCR too. Somehow the content providers have survived all of these dire threats to them!

    Too many people think of freedom of information in a purely legal sense. More important is how low cost it is to obtain the information.
    The law only comes AFTER the media makes that law inevitable.
    For example, ownership of printing presses was restricted in much of Europe when they first came out, it was only after the illegal printing overwhelmed the authorities that they stopped trying to restrict them.

  16. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    # 11 Skeptic said, “As for books, I still think most people prefer to read from a hard cover book of quality paper.”
    I disagree. Even before ereaders, most people preferred paperbacks for their convenient size and price. For the same reasons most people, in my opinion, will eventually embrace ereaders. I have a Nook and it has been mostly replaced with a Tab. I have a library with me at all times! I get more pleasure reading done now than ever before. Also, a benefit for me in my work life providing medical care in remote SE Asian villages, has been enhanced by my ability to carry a complete reference library of medical texts with me. A similar physical library would be simply too huge to transport!

    # 6 Slatts said, “when sheet music … composers and live musicians would loose out to these new fangled records! Same old, same old!”
    And Gutenberg’s invention finally put oral historians and storytellers and town criers out of business. Once today’s artists stop crying and start to work with the system, they’ll start to make more money than they thought possible. It happens with every paradigm shift.

    # 12 Floyd said, “Kindle books, EBooks”
    Just curious, Floyd. What’s the difference? Do you have one car and one Ford? Do you use a photocopier and a Xerox?

  17. foobar says:

    Animby, I’m with you. Ebooks are new and the technology is primitive but I love my Kindle. I think my reading has tripled since I bought it.

    The new Nooks look really nice. Can’t wait to see if Amazon responds. I”m expecting they’ll switch to an Android based device(s) too.

    Heres one for JCD. The first company to develop a virtual lending library (and of course do it right) will win.

  18. Grandpa says:

    Most software I have purchased, I purchased after trying it for free. My last purchase is a program called ImgBurn. I like it so much I sent some money. I never pay for crap software, books, music that I know sux. That’s the way it is.

  19. foobar says:

    That’s pretty insightful. On the net it’s up to the seller to garner your trust, not the other way around.

  20. retroman81 says:

    Books and movies are total different things.
    When u download movie and u see it ur done with it
    books r still physical thing even there is more and more ebooks online.

  21. Mr Fog says:

    retroman – u don’t read much do u

  22. Floyd says:

    “Kindle books, EBooks”
    “Just curious, Floyd. What’s the difference? Do you have one car and one Ford? Do you use a photocopier and a Xerox?”

    Kindle books are read with a Kindle reader. EBooks and other audiobooks are read with their reader software.

    At the moment I’m re-reading from The Fellowship of the Ring, which just happens to be a paperback copy of Volume I of the Lord of the Rings.

    I’ll buy E books and the like when I have reason to do so.

  23. GregAllen says:

    It depends on the products.

    For example, in Pakistan, you can get the full Adobe suite on a pirated disk for a couple of bucks. This is the same for all commercial products. This has totally killed off legitimate sales.


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