Social Shaming Works Faster Than Legal Recourse

from the uh-oh-lawyers dept

In the right hands, social media is a powerful tool. It can send canine-themed rappers to Palin-land, for instance. Some governments have even taken to the internet to publically shame tax evaders. But now we have a story of a couple of authors who found that imploring their well-connected customers to shame plagirists on their behalf may be a better route than legal recourse.

Reader drew writes in about the story of two fiction authors, John Scalzi (whom you may recognize from when we wrote about his free ebook experiment) and CJ Cherryh, who found that there were people selling the authors' works under a different name on Amazon's site. They sent their DMCA notices and waited in frustration as their publishers worked with the site to get all of the infringing works taken down. This admittedly has to be frustrating for victims, but fortunately the authors weren't content to sit on their hands and be pissed off.

“Both writers also posted a request for their Facebook fans to write scathing one-star reviews of Mr. Farabi's books, and warn others about the scan. By noon on Sunday, July 15th, all six of “Mr. Farabi's books” had been pulled, and were no longer for sale on Amazon.com. Score one for irate fans and copyright holders!”

The point here is that if you truly connect with your fans, they will be willing to fight on your behalf in situations such as this, and that is a far cry from the theory that everyone on the internet simply wants everything for free. But it takes work and a willingness to connect with your fan-base, so that the fans are willing to support you in this manner. Still, that work pays off in the passion those true fans will demonstrate.

And content creators, be they authors, musicians, or movie-makers, have no greater ally than a passionate fan-base. Those fans, as demonstrated here, are a more effective anti-piracy weapon than any legislation you can dream up, because while some companies on the internet may or may not be interested in acting as the “copyright police,” they will sure as hell listen to their customers.

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Companies: amazon

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Comments on “Social Shaming Works Faster Than Legal Recourse”

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48 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Public shaming works so long as the accused is truly guilty. The rule of law is superior to mob rule.”

I’ll say this, the difference between this case and the case of Lendink is very, very thin, but also very, very meaningful and important.

1. In this case the authors were correct
2. They didn’t whip up a frenzy amongst other authors, but rather implored their fans to take action

I think this serves as an example of how it can work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I agree that in this case it’s worked out well, but with the “victim” acting as judge and jury, the potential for actual fact-finding is low, and abuse very high. Like the LendInk instance you mentioned.

This instance may have been good, but I’m still not a fan of any methodology that involves riling up a group of people (fans or other authors) and setting them on someone for a perceived offense.

I think if they’d said “Hey, fans, just as a warning, somebody else is trying to pass my stuff off as theirs. Don’t be confused.” it would have been a lot better than saying “Hey, this guy is stealing my stuff, go ratebomb him into oblivion.”

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I think if they’d said “Hey, fans, just as a warning, somebody else is trying to pass my stuff off as theirs. Don’t be confused.” it would have been a lot better than saying “Hey, this guy is stealing my stuff, go ratebomb him into oblivion.””

I’d say that’s absolutely fair. On the other hand, revenge once the author has CONFIRMED a bad action doesn’t exactly rate high on my list of “Things That Suck”, either….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I think there’s a lot of alternatives better than rallying the troops, so to speak. Like what Inman did with Funnyjunk and Chuck. A fundraising campaign, and a hilarious picture of a bear. A couple of “WTF is wrong with you” status updates. Not an incitement to harass. Sure, some fans went out and did things that maybe they shouldn’t, but at least the author wasn’t telling them to round up and crash down on somebody.

Not saying I don’t sympathize with the authors here. Desire for revenge is an absolutely understandable state, but I’m not sure I want to condone organizing a revenge squad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

See: the twisted concept that is ‘social justice’, which is as close to a lynch mob as you can get online. For a moment, I actually thought this was an article praising social justice, since publicly ‘shaming’ individuals is a core concept of the movement. You have no idea how glad I am to see it wasn’t.

Steve says:

Re: Re: Re:

The justice system is flawed, sure, but don’t fall into the logical fallacy of requiring absolute perfection from something or it’s totally worthless. He is right, this is just mob mentality. How many of those fans actually checked to see if what the author said was correct before joining the mob? Few, if any, I’d imagine. Just 4chan alone has shown that this sort of thing is as inherently flawed as the classic torch & pitchfork carrying mob.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“who knew that shaming people could actually work”

Apparently, this method does not work well on politicians.

That’s because shame is *supposed* to carry some sort of social consequences. But they know that no matter how much bad shit comes out on them, they’ll still get reelected anyway.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

This case seems like one of the rare cases that should involve Amazon making an automated system. It should not be hard to run all their incoming book submissions through a system that compares the books with already existing ones and flags any that seem a bit to close.

Piracy is one thing. Claiming someone else work as your own to try and profit off it is something I think we all agree should be prevented when possible. Of course the prevention methods need be reasonable, but spotting a fully ripped off book with the authors name swapped should be a simple thing.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m a little leery of such a system, due to the joys that youtube’s ContentID system has caused.

It might work, if they had someone to look over each flagged entry, but then of course the question arises of ‘who is going to pay for them to do so?’

On the whole I think they system they have is better than any automated one they could put in place to handle stuff like this.

bob (profile) says:

Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

This is such horse manure. The RIAA and the MPAA have tried social shaming. They put out so many anti-piracy trailers for the front of DVDs that it drives viewers nuts. They’ve tried to persuade the world to pay their share and how far has that worked?

So they also sued them and everyone is going, “Gosh, if only they would shame them.” That’s bogus. I’ve been trying to shame the cheap leeches around here into paying for years and has it worked at all?

I personally like to look at it with realpolitik. A bunch of people are cheap and a bunch of people want to launch internet companies without paying for the content. So they get together and knit up some philosophy about how we’ll have an explosion of innovation and creativity, if only we get rid of copyright and patents. They ignore the fact that this shangrila hasn’t emerged from the government-zones of the planet like the middle of the oceans or Somalia. It’s all about the Benjamins and getting something without paying the content creators.

So I say that sometimes realpolitik demands that legal force is the only weapon because social shaming only goes so far. Google blathered on and on about how they were helping the world by giving away books, but they straightened up once the lawyers showed up.

So dream on. If social shaming worked, you guys would have followed my scolding years ago.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

This is such horse manure. The RIAA and the MPAA have tried social shaming. They put out so many anti-piracy trailers for the front of DVDs that it drives viewers nuts. They’ve tried to persuade the world to pay their share and how far has that worked?

That’s not shaming, that’s guilt and intimidation. A subtle, but important difference. Especially when the only people who have to deal with it are the ones behaving themselves.

You shame a third party in the eyes of the masses. You can’t shame a nameless, faceless group. The people you are trying to persuade have nothing to fix those feelings on. So instead the trailers and warnings try to make you (the viewer) feel guilty for being a dirty pirate, and scared of the consequnces, except you know that you’re not, so it doesn’t stick there, either.

LDoBe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

Shame also requires that the one doing the shaming be credible to the one being shamed. If the shame-ee (new word?) doesn’t care what the shamer says, and feels that the shamer is just a blowhard douchebag, the shame-ee doesn’t feel shamed at all.

Guilt on the other hand doesn’t require anyone to tell the guilty to feel guilty at all. Guilt is intrinsic to the one who committed an act they feel is wrong, and therefore the VAST majority of millennials will NEVER feel guilty about illegal downloads, and they most likely will never feel shame, because they don’t feel that the MPAA or the RIAA are credible, or have any moral high ground whatsoever.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

They put out so many anti-piracy trailers for the front of DVDs that it drives viewers nuts.

That’s not social shaming.

I’ve been trying to shame the cheap leeches around here into paying for years and has it worked at all?

I’ve never seen you do this, actually. I’ve seen you accusing people of piracy with zero evidence that they are engaging in or supporting it, but you can’t shame someone out of doing something they’re not doing in the first place.

This is odd, actually, because some commenters here do admit to being pirates, and yet I’ve never seen you chastise them. I may have missed that, though.

JMT says:

Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

“The RIAA and the MPAA have tried social shaming. They put out so many anti-piracy trailers for the front of DVDs that it drives viewers nuts.”

Are you that clueless that you don’t realise you just answered your own question?

“… shangrila…”

Yep, clueless…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

>The RIAA and the MPAA have tried social shaming. They put out so many anti-piracy trailers for the front of DVDs that it drives viewers nuts.

There you have it, you answered your own question. The people don’t feel shame, you dimwit, because they fucking paid for the damn DVD. They’re driven nuts because they’re not full of shame; they’re full of anger at something that alleges them as thieves, over a DVD they legitimately bought.

>So they also sued them and everyone is going, “Gosh, if only they would shame them.” That’s bogus.

You’re talking about America where people get sued for the most inane and ridiculous of things. Also, shaming doesn’t work if you demand pots of money that people can’t afford as compensation. It’s like the rich guy trying to evict the tramp living under the bridge that the rich guy doesn’t even own – who do you think people are going to be sympathetic towards?

>I’ve been trying to shame the cheap leeches around here into paying for years and has it worked at all?

I don’t know who the hell you are, and what the hell you do for a living (but given that you support John Steele I suppose I can guess). If I don’t know what your product is how the hell do I know if I’m paying for it or not? And why should I feel guilty about not paying for something I don’t want? But nooooo, I have to sit here and listen to you blather on about how I’m a thief.

No, bob, what you’re doing isn’t shaming. At best, you’re a liar. At worst, you’re a borderline sociopath.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Well why hasn't shaming worked for the RIAA and the MPAA?

It is so very hard to understand your scolding because your so very wrong most of the time.
I am enjoying Somalia being your new word of the day replacing paywall.

Social shaming works when someone who is innocent tries to shame a bad actor.

The cartels – not innocent, they are known to be liars.
They imagine they must be losing much money and move as such, when the only failure is to accept the old business model is actively hurting them.

Social shaming does not involve spending millions of dollars to buy laws to get your way, while claiming poverty.

Anonymous Coward says:

“”Both writers also posted a request for their Facebook fans to write scathing one-star reviews of Mr. Farabi’s books, and warn others about the scan.”

im sure he ment to say “SCAM”… (cant expect professional writers to get it right )..

social shamming, is THE most stupid thing you could possibly do !!!… it’s also illegal, goes directly against your much loved and leaned on constitution (is also bullying).. and can lead to results you really did not want to occur….

like murder, suicide, but right.. let a bunch of angry americans take justice into their own hands,, trust masnick to think this type of thing is OK.. !!!!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“….with the “victim” acting as judge and jury, the potential for actual fact-finding is low, and abuse very high.”

exactly, it’s not like Yanks dont often ‘lose it’ and go on some kind of rampage and kill a bunch of people.. that is why you have a legal and justise system..

because if is at all possible for you to take things way too far, there are about a million or so Americans willing to do that..

SO Masnick would you accept it as ok if one of your readers took the law into his own hands and got his gun and shot the leaders of the MPAA or the RIAA ?? or any other group you dont agree with ??

would you stand up and accept responsibility for their actions, after all you incited them to act !!!

Anonymous Coward says:

so these people wrote 1 star reviews on a book that their friend wrote..

so they are lying right…. or do they really believe the books only rated one star ??

thats not social shamming, that is lying to get your way..

huge difference,, it’s a shame Masnick and co cannot see the difference…

Score one for irate fans and copyright holders!”

oh right, so now you want to help the copyright holders ??? Masnick and co ??? I thought you hated copyright holders,, now you are supporting them.. ?????? Hmmmmm interesting..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Racist? “Australian” is a nationality, not a race. How about I rephrase myself – did you really think these sudden outbursts would change everyone’s opinion of your intellect? Namely, it not being in the range of positive numbers?

But hey, you proved it again by the racism accusation. You’ve all the intelligence of a shitstain.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re:

We could call this a case of Awareness Squad. I do agree that anything done in a mob fashion can go wrong. Techdirt had an example pretty recently where there was an update asking ppl not to harass the authors involved. It wasn’t on purpose but the article stirred the mob. So it’s interesting that maybe even if they only commented on that their fans would go and do their job.

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