Perhaps The Sequel Can Be 'Don't F**king Worry About Piracy'

from the just-a-suggestion dept

As I'm still a relatively new parent, way too many people have forwarded me copies or links to the PDF of the suddenly viral "children's" book Go the F**k to Sleep in the last few weeks. If you haven't seen it yet (and you're a parent), it's worth checking out, as it'll probably give you a chuckle for putting into words what you've thought many times, delightfully packaged in a near-perfect replica of so many children's books. Honestly, upon seeing it, I went searching to see where I could buy a physical copy (which, don't worry, I'll keep far away from the actual stack of baby books), and was disappointed to see that it wasn't coming out until the fall.
Except... the viral nature of the whole thing has turned a silly faux-children's book, with absolutely no marketing behind it, and which hasn't been released yet, into a bestseller:
Because of all of this attention, the publisher, Akashic, has moved up the publication date to June, and has planned a much bigger print run. It also resulted in the movie rights (yes, the movie rights) already being sold. And it's all because of what could technically be called piracy.

And here's the really ridiculous part. Despite all of this, Akashic appears to believe that it's still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics, and have them take it down.
And Akashic [has] been doing what they can to control distribution of the document by asking people to take down any posted PDFs. This may not be much. "As the publisher of this book, our responsibility is to tackle instances of piracy when we become aware of them," Ahmad said, "That's just doing a service to our authors, ourselves, book sellers, distributors, to everyone involved in the successful making and promotion of a book."
But, um, how is that "a service" to the author or the publisher? There appears to be a ton of evidence that the very lack of their ability to stop that is a huge part of the reason why the book is a massive success story. It seems like yet another case where people focus on the "but we must stop piracy!" without considering what that means for the bottom line.

Plenty of authors (and musicians and filmmakers) have already made this leap into recognizing that just because it's available for free, doesn't mean you can't make a ton of money with it. It just seems weird that Akashic seems to recognize the value it got from all this "piracy" on one hand, while at the very same time, talking about how it needs to stop it "as a service" to itself and its authors.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Wait, so what's the ton of evidence that the PDF hosting is contributing to the sales?

    I've received a ton of links, etc. for this book as well, but I don't think I saw any with PDFs hosted, as opposed to what appeared to be approved excerpts.

    What's the basis for equating the viral success with the PDF hosting?

     

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  2.  
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    Jon B. (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    That picture is freaking hilarious.

    No, I probably won't buy it, primarily because I don't even want to explain to people why I have it.

    I just want the PDF. Awesome.

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    Re:

    People have to see it somehow.

    The pdf has increased the demand so much that the publisher moved up the book date, tells people that the pursuit to stop the free pdfs is at least misguided.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    What's the basis for equating the viral success with the PDF hosting?


    The part where it had no marketing, and yet an explosion of interest and endorsements.

    Regardless, you'll agree that the PDFs haven't exactly hurt (pre-)sales, surely.

     

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  5.  
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    Steven (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Google found the pdf for me. Man that was funny.

     

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  6.  
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    Mary R (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    From the wtf department

    "as it'll probably give you a chuckle for putting into words what you've thought many times..."

    chuckle? perhaps. But I never had such thoughts.

    As for pseudo-children's books "It's A Book" by Lane Smith was well worth the $. What this article brings to mind is the old truism that the "you get what you pay for". This particular item is not worth the paper it's printed on, imo.

    So is copying a pdf really stealing if people are only downloading it because of curiosity and have no interest whatsoever in displaying the thing on their coffee table? Does piracy take place if "no harm" was in fact done, and the volume of sales will be the same regardless of the availability of a preview copy?

    Case in point: I can go to the bookstore and read the entire book without buying it. Does that make me a criminal? This isn't freaking Harry Potter. Releasing content before its actual release date... is it really going to matter?

    *Shrug* Whatevah.

     

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  7.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    Re: From the wtf department

    Piracy is an action, not an outcome; so yes, piracy did happen even if there was no harm. However, since there is no marketing campaign and you can't go to the book store and read it, I would say that piracy ether did no harm whatsoever, or more likely helped.

    And every parent has had those thoughts (It's the reason the book is funny and not child abuse). It's the actions you take in response to those thoughts that make you a good parent or not.

    I would so totally buy this for my sister (and she would display it), but if they're going after the people who helped them sell it, I don't know.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:50am

    Re: Re:

    Um, simply repeating the conclusion that "the pdf has increased the demand" isn't the same as supporting that conclusion.

    As I stated, I saw links to articles about the book that included excerpts and showed the cover, but did not host any PDFs. That is how I saw it.

    Where is the "ton of evidence" that the unauthorized PDF hosting is driving demand as opposed to the authorized excerpts?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:54am

    Re: Re:

    "The part where it had no marketing, and yet an explosion of interest and endorsements."

    As I clearly stated, there were articles and links to articles about this book that went viral without any PDF hosting. For example, I think Wire or BoingBoing or something had an article/post about it that didn't host any PDF without authorization. Rather, it had excerpts of the book and an image of the cover, without any further hosting of PDF pages or anything.

    I have no idea whether the unauthorized PDF hosting/distribution has had any effect, positive or negative, on book sales in comparision to a hypothetical world in which only the approved excerpts of the book were distributed. However, I can attest that I received numerous links to this book from friends that did not have anything to do with PDF hosting.

     

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  10.  
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    A non-mouse, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:00pm

    Re:

    Google found the pdf for me.

    When is someone going to do something about that filthy den of thieves calling themselves a "search engine"! Nothing but a bunch of freeloading felons if you ask me...

    /sarcasm

     

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  11.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, if the article is correct, the "authorized excerpts" were illegal too; and if piracy didn't help, it sure as hell didn't hurt.

    "Akashic appears to believe that it's still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics"

    If they could push the release date up and increase the run, why were they waiting until fall?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, which part of the article suggests authorized excerpts were illegal?

    Of course, I don't think assuming every bit of the article is 100% accurate is a good move.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    As I clearly stated, there were articles and links to articles about this book that went viral without any PDF hosting. For example, I think Wire or BoingBoing or something had an article/post about it...

    Again, the has been "no marketing" for this book. So where, exactly, do you suppose the BoingBoing submitter got ahold of the book to review it? They quoted a passage from the book, so clearly they have seen more than just the cover. Use your head McFly!!

     

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  14.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are you just mad that nobody sent you a link to the pdf, or what?

    Well, how 'bout this. Buzz was built up on the book through articles. People wanted to see the whole book out of curiosity. It won't be released for 6 months? In the age of information we have to wait 6 months for a dinosaur publishing company to print and deliver the material? Obviously somebody leaked the book in full, arguably bringing a lot more attention to the book since now people can look at all of it instead just a few excerpts. As some mentioned, they will now buy the book when it comes out. Others won't, and they probably wouldn't have anyways. So what does it matter if the book is out in full on pdf or jpeg on some website?

     

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  15.  
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    Jay (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    ""The copies have been proliferating since this craziness started," said Ibrahim Ahmad, senior editor at the Brooklyn-based press, "With a PDF, you can make so many duplicates and people have just been forwarding it.""

    Also:

    "This volume had a few key properties that enabled its electronic popularity: an undeniable title, a good-looking cover and a short length, making it easy to read, post and pass on. Also, the long lag time between the book's pre-sale (it was originally scheduled to go on sale in October) and the buzz made online sharing necessary."

    Hell, the main reason it went viral is because people spread it. There was NO advertising for it.

    "One benefit of the illegal action seems clear. "Up until this week," Ahmad said, "we have done nothing to promote this book.""

    So all signs point to piracy and the pdf, with its availability, allowing people to talk and discuss the book, deciding if they want to buy it when it comes out.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You seem to be equating all viral sharing with sharing of PDFs, which I don't think is supportable. There has been plenty of sharing links to articles about the book.

    I don't think the notion that nobody would share links to articles about the book if there were no PDF is supportable either.

    At any rate, it's certainly not a "ton of evidence."

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The excerpt in this boingboing article certainly looks like it came from a marketing writer:

    http://boingboing.net/2011/04/26/go-the-fuck-to-sleep.html

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The excerpt in this boingboing article certainly looks like it came from a marketing writer:

    http://boingboing.net/2011/04/26/go-the-fuck-to-sleep.html

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As I said before, I'm not sure what effect, if any, the availability of the PDF has had on sales of the book. Some people read it, are satisfied with the novelty, and don't buy a copy. Some people read it, write a good review, and that causes others to order a copy. I don't know the net result.

    I just thought, for someone who so often criticizes claims not based on empirical evidence, claiming a "ton of evidence" supports that notion that sales were driven by the PDF distribution, as opposed to the viral publicity having little or nothing to do with the PDF distribution, was suspect.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The excerpt in this boingboing article certainly looks like it came from a marketing writer

    There you go, just keep on ignoring the part where THERE WAS NO FUCKING MARKETING!

     

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  21.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Wait, which part of the article suggests authorized excerpts were illegal?"

    The one I quoted (The "or graphics" part in case you missed it)

    "Of course, I don't think assuming every bit of the article is 100% accurate is a good move."

    I don't assume shit, hence the "if" part of my sentence.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Um...what articles? They said they had done nothing to promote the book.

    Granted, "nothing" may be a hyperbole. But if they hadn't done in promotion, that means no articles (reviews are a major part of promotion).

    If there were articles written without any pre-review copies sent to anyone, that means the reviewers read the pirated copies.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ok, well the quote that that line is based on (and the article linked) doesn't support the notion that they would go after people hosting authorized graphics or the cover graphic.

    So I guess we can put that "if" to rest.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I linked to a boingboing article elsewhere in this thread. It contains a description that is also used by the publisher (thus, I believe written by the publisher or someone affiliated with the publisher).

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not ignoring it. I'm questioning it.

    Did you read the link I provided? It's not a review. It's the same description, word for word, that the publisher uses on its Amazon page for the book.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    .pdf = .crime

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    insightful

     

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  28.  
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    crispybacon, May 18th, 2011 @ 3:02pm

    Don't need the PDF

    The *story* of the PDF going viral was enough for my wife to order the book from Amazon.

     

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  29.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's because that's what it is. It's apparently the extent of their marketing before the thing went viral (not surprising since it wasn't due to be released until fall.)

    Try google and you'll find a bunch of other stories on the book and the role the PDFs played in popularizing it.

     

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  30.  
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    Ikarushka (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 4:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, you don't know how to google, my friend: "go the fuck to sleep pdf", second page.

     

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  31.  
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    Ikarushka (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    I was disappointed: poetry is very weak and not witty at all, a naked idea, that's it. The idea of translating children verses to adult language is good though not new: if you can read in Russian, look for Igor Guberman.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 4:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There's a button to the right of the comment that you can press; you don't really have to tell me.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But that approved, publisher-sourced description, excerpt, and cover page did go viral (that's what I got links to from numerous sources).

    So I'm wondering where the evidence is that the source of viral success was the unapproved PDF distribution?

    It seems plausible to me that it would have reached a similar viral success without the PDF distribution, based on what was put out by the publisher/author.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I don't understand what you're getting at.

     

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  35.  
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    RadialSkid (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The quote: "Akashic appears to believe that it's still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics."

    You: "Ok, well the quote that that line is based on...doesn't support the notion that they would go after people hosting authorized graphics..."

    Me: WHAT???

     

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  36.  
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    Jay (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Okay... Work with me here...

    People saw the content. They saw the pdfs and bought those. People being people, someone said "you gotta read this". Then, they sent the pdf to someone else. So it went viral from that. It was funny and out of 100 people, let's say 10 want the book. And some people, knowing more than one person, may have linked to the Amazon page, where people decided to buy the pdf for themselves. I would venture to guess that people want to see this first, then decided to buy.

    Personally, I heard a snippet of this on the radio, when a DJ was talking about the stories he read after he puts his kid to sleep. So if you'll excuse me, now that I know the title...

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Another excellent reason to add a Moron button next to Insightful.

    "Where is the "ton of evidence" that the unauthorized PDF hosting is driving demand as opposed to the authorized excerpts?"

    Yeah it happens ALL the time genius. We often see books with absolutely no marketing jump to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. It couldn't possibly be all those eyes on the PDFs who actually liked it so much that they want a physical copy. No that couldn't possibly be it. It just magically happened.

    Excepts and cover shots with no marketing behind them have often produced bestselling results. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. (Do I need a (R) or TM with that?)

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 7:55pm

    Hardwired behavior

    "We made $30 million because of piracy? Great! Spend $29 million of it fighting piracy. We won't be able to make any money with those pirates around, y'know."

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I was referring to Masnick's quote of an article in support of his statement that "Akashic appears to believe that it's still in its best interests to go after those hosting copies of the PDF or graphics."

    Hope that clears it up.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure what you're asking me.

    Let's say their is "content" A and "content" B. A is the description, cover page, and excerpt that, apparently, was distributed by the publisher. B is the entire book as a PDF file.

    From what I've seen, there was viral publicity based on A. So where is the evidence that B contributed any more publicity than that generated (or that which would have been generated) by A alone?

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Got it. Faith-based conclusions are ok if you agree with them. Evidence is for people you disagree with.

     

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  42.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So I'm wondering where the evidence is that the source of viral success was the unapproved PDF distribution?

    The numerous stories that point to the unapproved PDF distribution. Sure, not many admit to reading it themselves, but they almost all mention the fact. You apparently think that there's no reason for that.

     

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  43.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The buttons aren't sarcastic, though.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, if there are numerous stories that point to piracy as the reason record companies are hurting financially, you would just accept that as a true cause and effect conclusion, right?

    Other people's conclusions aren't evidence. They certainly aren't a "ton of evidence."

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    indeed

     

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  46.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 12:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The difference is that the stories that point to piracy as harmful almost always point back to some PR on the **AA's part.

    This is the opposite. Everyone notes it has happened, but they don't want to get into detail about how they know (sound strategy, given Akashic's behavior.)

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, so how is "some people agree with me" evidence?

    Anyway, everyone notes that the PDF has gone viral. I'm not disputing that.

    I'm questioning whether there is any evidence (or a "ton of evidence") that viral publicity and/or success of the book orders is attributable to the PDF's viral distribution.

    There is actual evidence that stories about the book were being shared *apart from the PDF*. I have seen no evidence that it is the PDF, and *not* the other viral publicity, that drove sales/success.

    I'm also not saying that is untrue. I'm just saying I've seen no evidence of that, so it strikes me as a double standard to claim that there is a "ton of evidence" for that from someone who always asks for empirical evidence to back up claims he doesn't like or agree with.

     

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  48.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait, so how is "some people agree with me" evidence?

    It's not. But when everyone is pointing to the elephant in the room, you can assume that the fact that they're citing the cool elephant rides as the reason for the elephant's popularity is not just speculation.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I have no idea what that is supposed to mean.

     

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  50.  
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    IronM@sk, May 19th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Keep trying, troll harder.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
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    Robert Doyle (profile), Jun 29th, 2011 @ 1:20pm

    At least they are only asking

    From reading this, it seems like they are requesting people remove the hosted copies. You are required to do this to a certain extent to actually protect your IP - if people can show a lack of enforcement, the IP can be deemed abandoned. This doesn't feel in the same vein as much of the other stuff reported on here, and I don't think it is a great idea to do away with all IP rights - many people would lose the incentive to create if all they got for it was a feeling of satisfaction. (I said 'most' all of you flamers - I fully admit that there are many who create for the joy of it)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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